TLC1: VIM Plan

Years ago God gave me a corrective word about my teaching and preaching ministry: “Less is more.”

I was inspired to begin learning to be more like Jesus in the way that I taught in seminars and groups. First I learned to speak slower, using more stories and pauses. I also practiced remembering to smile! (To relax and enjoy God in the moment.) Then I began facilitating spiritual formation experiences as part of my teaching. More recently, I started incorporating more of a conversational style.

Sometimes without realizing it, I revert back to more of a lecture mode because that’s the way my mentor teaches and I have confidence that I can communicate key points in that way. With God’s help I’m usually able to stretch people to remain interested and motivated to learn.

However, I don’t want to overwhelm people with my intensity to learn! “Don’t push — pull, gently.” Is another way of saying that sometimes, “Less is more.” In my teaching I want to woo people to the risen Christ in the room and within their own hearts. I know that the most effective teachers cultivate students’ desires to learn so that they ask questions and are helped to re-think their ideas and approach to life. This is how Jesus taught and I have found from experience that the more I’m able to teach in this way the more helpful it is for people.

For the six months until our next TLC Retreat/Training (or longer) I’m going to use this VIM Plan to help me become more like Jesus in my ministry of teaching on the soul-full life in God. (The use of a VIM Plan for spiritual formation in Christ is explained by Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart. For additional explanations and examples of how a VIM Plan can help you to be with Jesus and become more like him see our articles under the tag, “Transformation.”)

Vision (One God-Inspired Way to Be More Like Jesus)

As a teacher, assisting Jesus, the Teacher present in the room and in his followers, I want to learn to give more space for students to engage the Lord through guided spiritual formation experiences and asking questions.

Intention (Personal Resistance to Overcome)

When teaching I rely too much on my personal knowledge and energy and I need to become more willing to de-emphasize this. In order to realize my vision I need to accept not being as thorough as I want to be and not passing on as much material as seems important at the moment.

Means (Ways to Connect with God’s Grace)

I’m going to use these spiritual disciplines to learn how to become a more Spirit-led and conversational teacher.

  • Keep the Sabbath. Central to my Rhythm of Life with Jesus is resting from all my work for at least 24-hours each week (usually Sunday and/or Monday) to appreciate and rely upon what God is doing in my life. As needed, I will incorporate extended hours in solitude and silence as part of my Sabbath rest. Making space for others to connect with Christ comes out of my own personal abiding in the Lord.
  • Meditate on Philippians 3:7-14 (which I’ve memorized) and similar Bible passages. To “Take heart” from the Apostle Paul helps me to cultivate passionate indifference to all things except knowing Jesus Christ. I don’t want to live to be successful — even in ministry! Knowing and loving Jesus is the One Thing I want to live for and it is the source of my fruitfulness for God.
  • Accept Limitations. Before I teach I’ll go over my topic and material with Kristi, asking the Lord to speak to me through her, helping me to see if I have too much material and need to cut back.
  • Watch and Pray. In times of prayer I’ll imagine myself teaching and having more material than time to convey it all. Then I’ll pray to abandon to God the outcomes of not being as thorough as I want to be. To help me do this I’ll use the Breath Prayer: “In Jesus’ name… Not my strain.”
  • Give Thanks to Jesus. I anticipate there will be occasions in which after I’ve spoken to a group I will feel that I talked too long or overloaded people. Instead of going into self-condemnation and feeling bad about myself I’ll keep praying, “Thank you Lord for _____.” This helps me to keep my focus on Jesus and the wonderful things he’s just done and will continue to do for me and my friends/students.
  • Soul Friendship. Most every day, especially after I teach, I’ll process my experience and emotions with Kristi, relying on the compassion and wisdom of Christ through her.

Here’s a pdf template for you to develop a basic VIM Plan as a Rhythm of Life, picking disciplines  that fit your need.

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