"Good to Great" by Guest Speaker Charles Vaughan
Who among us at milestones in our lives like this graduation weekend, do not stop for a moment and think about that next good job, good position, good salary.
What if I were able to give you a gift, say a graduation gift, or a friendly gift, or a thank you gift for inviting me to speak to you this evening. What if I could give everyone here a gift of insight ... to know how to move from good to great?
Author Jim Collins in 2001 wrote a very popular business book called Good to Great in which he examined over 1.000 companies to find what he named great companies and the qualities that made them great. He writes: Good is the enemy of Great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government principally be because we have good government. Few people attain great lives in large part because it is just too easy to settle for a good live. The vast majority of companies and churches, never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good and that is their main problem.
I call the first principle, "to get on the bus you have to be invited."
Mr. Collins had a large team of researches to look and study companies. In Mr. Collins's book, he states a company's greatest assets are not their people, but the right people. Great Companies first get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seat, the wrong people off the bus, and then figure out where the bus is going and get people excited about going.
We know that Jesus lived in the same secular world we do. He was surrounded by the same kind of folks that live in this world. He needed to find folks who would help him take his ministry to the next level. How does he do that?
We look at Luke chapter 5. Jesus is preaching a sermon at the Sea of Galea. Picture if you will, a wide lake, rolling hills sloping down to the lake side. Along the shore, boats beached with fishermen sitting, tired after a full night of fishing. As Jesus speaks the crowd grows larger and come nearer and nearer to the teacher. They grow so large that Jesus is backed up to the lake. Not the time for the miracle, he has a "multi-tasking problem: he needs to both solve his immediate problem of being able to continue preaching and not getting wet and finding someone to help him out.
I suspect that then just as now, you just don't get into someone's boat without being invited or asking. Jesus looks at Peter and Peter looks back.
The issue is: Does Peter see his problem, and does he step forward and do something about it?
Could Jesus have asked to borrow the boat and rowed it out? Sure, he was strong enough but that was not the issue The issue for Jesus was that he knew that he could not accomplish what he wanted to accomplish over the long term without the right people, in the right seats on his bus. For Peter to get on the Jesus bus, he has to see the problem, and take action to resolve the problem. He does. Peter agrees and out they go. That decision cemented Peter's place in the church and ministry. Now this may sound so elementary to you that you say there has to be something more to go to Great. There is, but this is the big first step. You can never get to where the bus is going if you don't get invited on the bus. You need a healthy dose of Isaiah: I'm ready Lord send me attitude.
Could it have been different? Peter could have said your problem is not my problem or I'm tired, ask someone else,or what's it worth to you or why don't you just end your sermon early and give us all a break.
Jesus was looking for the right person to be the rock on which he would build his church. The church, the world, businesses, hospitals, service organizations are desperately seeking bias toward action people. How does management recognize one – they look at not at what people say but what they accomplish. Let me relate a story. Recently, I was on a men's weekend retreat. You know 50 to 70 guys out at some wooded area with log cabins roughing it for a weekend and enjoying the opportunity for fellowship with Christ and each other. Yet in the mist of that, I think you would all recognize that there were the folks who got and stacked the firewood, and the ones who just watched the fire, the ones to repeatedly clean the dishes and the ones who were suddenly absent.
When the time comes to pick or ask members to be on a college endowment committee, church membership drive, be a project leader, take over a larger sales territory or to lead the team, it will not be the fire watching, cot-laying, TV-surfing sleepy person, it will be the ones that have shown a bias for action in the past. When you get them on the bus they can get $59.5M in pledges for Catawba college when the goal was $56.5M, it will be the ones that grow community churches from 5 folks in a classroom into churches that serve thousands of people a week, it will be the ones that saw a need for the College's Lilly Center for Vocation and Values and that it could offer an experience of grace and work in a secular world where little is sacred.
Management is looking for folks who want to join in, who start shoveling and not just leaning on the shovel. Paul in 1 Corinthians said it: When you run the race, Win the race, run hard, run fast, and win the thing. Where ever you are heading after graduation: remember Peter, you have to step forward to get on the bus next principle that can take you from good to great is what I call: the opportunity test, or getting the right seat on the bus... Seeing the opportunities and taking advantage of them. God helps us by giving us all lots of opportunities and then nudges us to take advantage of them.
Now back in Verse 5 Jesus gives Peter an opportunity. Now go out to where the water is deep and let out your nets and you will catch a lot of fish. Now the bible does not say what Peter was thinking but, he probably did not immediately jump at the chance. He weighed the options, tired, go home, drink some wine, and take a nap. Row further, work more, and maybe catch fish. Can you hear what Peter is thinking or maybe even saying, Master, master theologian, master speaker, master communicator, master speech giver, master in a lot of things other than fishing.
We have been working hard all night that means us not you. While we were busting our backs, straining our arms, you were ashore catching some zzzzs, whatever you were doing it was not fishing. WE the professionals caught no fish, but you the non professional somehow feel that in broad daylight, in the hottest part of the day that there are just loads of fish out there waiting to be caught, don't see any other boats out here right.... DEAL or NO DEAL...
He took the opportunity that Jesus offered. We know what happened; the nets were so full that they began to tear.
Opportunities come in many guises. As I stand in this chapel, it takes me back 38 years to a memory that is as clear to me today as it was back then. The campus pastor, Pastor Seiwell had freshman orientation in this chapel one bright shinning morning. He said that this chapel was a symbol of Catawba and the opportunity it presented to us. At this end, the sign of the cross representing the ethical, moral and Christian values a church affiliated school offered, the other end a rose window with the lamp of learning in the center, the opportunity to learn and grow. And he challenged us to take advantage of all the opportunities that Catawba would offer. That day was a milestone to me, an opportunity a nudge from the good pastor. You see when I arrived here in 1968; I came from a small farming community in southern Virginia. Except for the radio or TV, I had never heard a symphony orchestra, seen a professional play, and never listened to a magnificent choir. Yet Catawba offered me an opportunity to experience a full range of cultural events. Yep, each student got a culture card that had to have a minimum of 4 attended events each semester. Many of my fellow students laughed at the requirement, some ridiculed the practice for me it was a golden opportunity card… I attended and soaked up every event I could. I even borrowed others cards. Taking that opportunity made me a more rounded individual and help define my liberal arts education and opened my eyes to all the opportunities that Catawba could offer. I thank God and Pastor Seiwell, great nudge and opportunity. I have to believe that same orientation program long ago affected yet another student two years ahead of me, a young Ken Clapp. Is it any surprise that Dr. Kenneth W. Clapp, when the opportunity presented itself jumped at the chance to be the director of the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values? Pastor Siwell's beliefs of Christian values and knowledge are now a physical campus reality. God give lots of opportunities.
Row to the deeper water, let down your nets and catch a lot of fish.
The third and final principle for good to great is one of my favorites and one that when it works, is an amazing sight to see. It's hard to get good to great without it. It is the grand vision test or being excited about where the bus is going. Think back to the bursting nets, man are those folks happy, they have more fish that there have ever had. There are probably big ones, something a fisherman really loves. We went out and we caught one THIS BIG ... So they are all happy, singing, thinking about what the fish will be traded for and they row back to shore.
Now when they get back to shore, Jesus takes this moment, this opportunity to lay out his vision. Hay guys, you like catching fish. Heck yea, we are fishermen. Well how about this, how would you like to (say it with me) become fisher of men? HMMM, in one question, bigger fish, more fun, bigger deal, the opportunity to make a difference, save lives, see miracles or catch perch. Jesus painted a picture for Peter and James and John to see taste and feel — fishers of men. How in the world could they go back to catching minnows when they could join Him being fishers of men and changing lives? Visions are very powerful things when laid out. And the bible relates that all 3 "left everything and went with him.
Wow, does it happen today, you bet it does.
I can not help but be stirred every time I see a Billy Graham crusade. Billy Graham converted thousands of people with his compelling vision of salvation ... all you have to do is combine a physical step forward with the faith step forward, believe and come forward; Let me read to you the words of Billy Graham ... Arise reverently men and women.
young people, and say, " Tonight I want Christ as my Lord and savior." You may be a member of a church, you may not be a member of any church, I do not know who you are, what you are. But if you want to receive him tonight, if you want to go home with the peace and the joy that only Christ can give. I want you to get up out of your seat right now and come quickly.
Dr Martin Luther King, you all know the vision: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
Are you ready to walk with me.
If you do not have a vision to attach to, Good News … God has already prewired you with the power and ability to create a vision. Let me tell you about Wes Lockfaw, a Catawba graduate, music major. My home church, Virginia Beach United Methodist Church hired him as its Music director. When he came to VB, he probably didn't have or need a vision. What he came to find out was that if he was to succeed, he needed one. The old music director, beloved but tired had retired. The church service was good. It had all the good old favorites songs, the choir was good, it sang all the right notes and the 100 pipe organ was good, probably 32 of the pipes got wind in them in a service.
It was good going nowhere near great. Yet Wes, a man with a bias for action, hired to be the music director, saw an opportunity and then cast his vision of great ... A music program by Christmas that would have a full orchestra, 75 plus choir members, a pipe organ that all 100 pipes, 52 stops and twelve petals would be used, a 12 scene cantata with dancing, singing and acting church members that would so ignite the community that the church would bring in members, non members and the non churched to see and hear the glory of Christ. Say, could I interest you in a small part in our Christmas cantata. Let me tell you what it would mean to the community. That cantata went for three nights and two performances on Saturday. It played to a full house every performance.
So my question to you this evening is: Will you be satisfied with just good or are you willing to consider moving to Great. Billy Graham made the leap, Dr King did it, Pastor Seiwell did it and Wes did it, you can do it also. When Peter saw the enormity of the power of Christ, he fell to his knees and said "Oh lord leave me I am too much a sinner for you to have me around." Remember what Jesus said, do not be afraid. Do NOT BE AFRAID. Do not be afraid to have a vision — it is what makes life worth living, do not be afraid to be engaged—it is the adventure, do not be afraid to take advantages of opportunities—God gives lots of them to you and they are all around you.
Tonight you entered this chapel to worship, you leave to serve others among the assembly of leaned men and women... alumni from Catawba College. Don't be satisfied with good, be Great.
Thank you for the parents, loved ones, friends, neighbors, and family members, who have helped, supported, prayed for, and nourished the members of this graduating class. You alone know the absolute power and potential assembled with you here tonight. We pray unleash that potential for your good and the world's benefit. Give us opportunities to achieve great things and help us along the way. Give us the means to achieve great things. Open our eyes like you did Peter's and Paul's so that we can see your majesty, cast fear behind us and believe in a vision that will make a difference in our lives and others. In these college years you have seen these graduates mature from freshmen to Seniors, grow in Christian faith, gain an appreciation for knowledge and learn the power of having ethical and moral values with which to make good choices. You through this great institution have given them the tools to be salt and light ... to go out into a dark and tasteless world and make a difference. Bless these graduates, walk with them, and help them become great.