I have lost everything for him (For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, for who I have suffered the loss of all things, it is because of him that I have suffered the loss of all things, For his sake I have discarded everything else, for whose sake I have lost all things) but what I lost I think of as sewer trash (but (indeed) I consider it, count them as rubbish, consider them rubbish, as useless rubbish, counting it all as garbage), so that I might (could) gain (win) Christ (in order to gain the Messiah) and be found in him (for now my place is in him, and become one with him). In Christ I have a (genuine) righteousness of God that is not my own and that does not come from the Law (not dependent on any of the self-achieved righteousness, I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law) (that comes from the law) but rather from the faithfulness of (in) Christ (the faithfulness of the Messiah). It is the righteousness of (that comes from) God (that comes from God) that is based on (on the basis of, and depends on) faith (for God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith).
-Philippians 3:8b-9 (CEB, PHILLIPS, NKJV, ISV, NLT, NIV)
Imagine you have a piece of paper. Imagine drawing a line down the middle. Write everything that you have, that you have done or accomplished, and everything that has been done to you; on one side of the paper. On the other side, write, "knowing Christ Jesus my Lord".
On the left hand side of that paper, you might have listed your job, your bank accounts, your significant relationships, and perhaps bad things that have happened to you. But when you look at Christ, it puts all those other things into perspective.
Knowing Christ is not just about intellectual knowledge. It is a working knowledge. You learn the knowledge by living it. It is heart knowledge. The goal of the commands of God is love (1 Tim. 1:5). We walk with and obey Jesus through our hearts and the world around us knows we are Christians by our love (John 13:34).
As God develops us as leaders, he is taking us to a place where we know the Lord Jesus as our life. We cease trying to work for Him, but begin allowing Him to be our All in all and do His work through us. Growth in being in Christ results in more effectively doing ministry for Christ. God wants us to minister from the place of being (John 15:5).
Mature saints or seasoned leaders take time to develop. People who have studied notable leaders of the past, estimate that it takes 15 years, on average, to get to the place where being and doing (John 15:5) begins to be lived out in the leader's life (Sandford, pp. 15-16).
A person gets converted or saved and begins a life in Christ. At some point, they up their commitment and begin a life-style of service. That's when the 15 year clock starts and the growth is gradual, and remember that the 15 year mark is an average that is gradually made way to.
When Paul wrote the words above, he had some time on his "clock". It had been about 24 years since he got saved and 15 to 16 years (or so) from his first missionary journey. Paul had a lot of time and experience in Christ, when he wrote about losing all things, but gaining Christ.
What Paul is saying, for himself, and it applies to us as well; is that making the decision for Christ, in the past, is not enough. We must choose or decide again daily, by continuing to not depend on our selves; on our accomplishments or possessions, to gain any favor with God. Nothing can compete in our lives for merit or allegiance, with Christ.
To become a mature Christian takes time. Maturity also comes from process. There is a saying, "gifts are given, but fruit is grown". Character takes time to form. That's why it's called character formation. A person with gifts, but without character will falter.
My grandmother told us the story of a school principle who was burned in a house fire, because he would not flee the house, without getting dressed first. He was ashamed to be seen in underwear or pajamas.
We have nothing to offer but Christ. The message and the ministry is Christ plus nothing. The Christian life is lived in Christ, plus nothing. We don't need any "hamburger helper".
The way in is the way on. The good news that got you saved keeps you saved. There are no fillers, binders, or MSG added to the meal.
In that place that you are at today, what are you standing on or depending on in it? What is holding you up or what are you holding on to?
The Christian life's goal or the Christian's life goal is union with Christ. Salvation is an event and a process. You step over and into Christ and you are saved. But maturity, character formation, and fruitfulness take time.
Miles J. Sandford, "The Green Letters: Principles of Spiritual Growth", 1975
J. Robert Clinton, "The Making of a Leader", 1988; (pp. 153-74)
Gerald F. Hawthorne, "Philippians" (Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 43), 1983; (pp. 129-44)