“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” …. Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:13,15 (NLT)
Jesus was asking these questions to bring into focus of the Twelve what they believed about Him. He used questions to force them to reflect on their personal beliefs. He was not having an identity crisis!
How to insure that your investment in others will have a lasting impact? It’s a matter of focus – focusing on beliefs.
You can influence another my focusing on their outward actions or behavior. Accountability structures or ‘rules’ will insure that others conform to the expected performance standards. But, as soon as they step out of this environment, they will revert back to their ‘default’ behavior patterns or adopt new patterns that align with the new environment they are in.
A more lasting impact can be had by focusing on a person’s values. By helping shape values, we can impact behavior because values determine choices which result in behavior. Values can be encouraged and re-enforced by the environment we create. But, once again, when others leave this environment they will find themselves in a new one with different values that are influencing them to conform.
By focusing on beliefs / convictions and deeper matters of the heart, we can see true transformation in the lives of others that will last. Personal beliefs will deepen and mature over time, but need to be rooted in the Scriptures which do not change and God’s character which is immutable. Beliefs drive values which cause choices resulting in behavior.
These three levels of focus – beliefs, values, or actions (behavior) all will have impact. But, impact that lasts comes from influencing what one believes. Helping others answer “why,” not just “what” or “how” will plant seeds that grow to a fruitful maturity over time.
So, where’s your focus?