Whatever It Takes
This article is adapted from a message that Tony shared at the 30th anniversary celebration of Rhema Bible Church in Broken Arrow, OK on Sunday, October 11, 2015. You can watch the video of this message here.
Whatever It Takes by Tony CookeI recently had the privilege of preaching at Rhema Bible Church as the congregation celebrated their 30 year anniversary. It was a real shock to me that it had actually been 30 years—three full decades—since Pastor Hagin, Doug Jones, Fred Brothers, and I walked out on to the platform at Rhema and saw the launching of the very first service.
As soon as I responded affirmatively to the invitation to speak at this anniversary service, a phrase seemed to pop up in my heart: Whatever it takes. I knew immediately how that fit in and how that connected to this invitation. “Whatever it takes to get the job done” was one of the core values I learned from Pastor and Mrs. Hagin as Rhema Bible Church began.
If a staff member is to work well with a senior pastor, that assistant must learn and share the core values of the leader. The assistant may not have the same personality or the same gifts, but he or she needs to embrace the same values, goals, priorities, and philosophy of ministry. The words of Amos come to mind: “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3, NLT).
Their determination and resolve was found in other phrases as well. One would often hear Pastor Hagin say, “I cannot be defeated and I will not quit.” Mrs. Hagin was prone to quote the Apostle Paul frequently, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I knew that if I was going to be a part of the team—if I was going to work in partnership with them—it was important for me to understand their approach and mind-set. Learning and embracing these attitudes helped me develop personally, and allowed me to understand “the spirit of faith” that was to become part of the DNA—the very spiritual fabric—of the church.
A core value, of course, is not something that is merely spoken; it must be modeled. I remember Pastor Hagin talking about having served as an assistant pastor at Brother Tipton’s church and doing whatever it took to serve the church. I specifically remember him talking about having to repair the roof of the church building. Not everything can be put in a job description, but a “whatever it takes to get the job done” attitude will cause a person to be flexible, adaptable, and highly committed to the tasks at hand. If it means climbing down from the roof, changing clothes, making a hospital visit, changing clothes again, and climbing back up to continue working on the roof, so be it.
“Whatever it takes to get the job done” means that you are willing to roll up your sleeves, to get your hands dirty, to go the extra mile, and to go above-and-beyond the call of duty. It means that you are not a prima donna; that you are not too good to serve. It means that you are a person of resolve, determination, and conviction. “Whatever it takes” means first of all that you know what the job is. You know what God wants done, and you have determined that with His help, to see the task accomplished with excellence.
Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, knew what this attitude was all about. He said, “We know how rough the road will be, how heavy here the road will be, we know about the barricades that wait along the track, but we have set our soul upon a certain goal ahead, and nothing left from hell to sky shall ever turn us back.”
John F. Kennedy expressed the same type of resolve when he gave his speech in 1962 about the U.S. going to the moon, something which did not happen until 1969. He stated, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”
It is one thing when a coach, a president, or a pastor has a “whatever it takes to get the job done” attitude. But ultimately, for the articulated goals to be realized, many others need to embrace the same resolve. In a church setting, the staff, top leaders, and the workers must all take on the same sense of ownership, determination, and responsibility.
It is important to realize that this “whatever it takes” attitude did not start with any of the aforementioned individuals; it started with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was determined to obey the Father, whatever it took. He was determined to rely upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, whatever it took. The Savior was determined to give His life for us so that we could have eternal life, whatever it took. Hundreds of years before Jesus came to this earth, the Prophet Isaiah spoke of the “whatever it takes” attitude that would be seen in the Messiah.
6 I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. 7 “For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.”
Saying that Jesus would set His face like flint is another way of saying he had the “whatever it takes” attitude. When Peter tried to talk Jesus out of going to the cross, Jesus responded, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23). Later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus faced the agony of bearing the sin of humanity and dying on the cross, He prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). The cross was not something Jesus saw as a path of convenience or comfort, but it fell into the category of “whatever it takes” to redeem mankind.
Another aspect of Jesus resolve is seen in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said, “…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Jesus is still building His church today, and He possesses a “whatever it takes” attitude toward that goal. His resolve and determination remain absolute.
- Jesus builds His Church on the realization and confession of His Lordship—that He is the Son of God!
- Jesus builds His Church through the influence, the operation, and the impartations of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus builds His Church through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
- Jesus builds His Church through the leadership of pastors and other gifts that He places within the Church.
- And last but not least, Jesus builds the Church through the contributions of every member—through acts of love, acts of service, and acts of generosity.
Jesus is resolved and determined that He will build His church! When we embrace and act upon His resolve, we become laborers together with Him, and we partner with God in His work.
Another person who had a “whatever it takes” attitude was Nehemiah. Nehemiah had a very comfortable and prestigious position in the Persian Empire as the king’s cupbearer. And yet, as a Jew in the captivity, his heart longed for the welfare of Jerusalem, and he wept over its degraded condition. The burden on his heart to see the walls rebuilt was great. He communicated that vision to the residents of Jerusalem, and together, with God’s help, they began to rebuild the walls.
Nehemiah 4:6 gives us a progress report, a half-time update: “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” Notice that it wasn’t just Nehemiah that was dedicated, but the people were determined as well. The job was not easy. There were problems within, and there were problems without. They had to adjust to threats. They had to adapt to what was going on around them. Things became so dangerous that we read in Nehemiah 4:17, “…with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.”
When people possess a “whatever it takes” attitude, they are not quick to be discouraged or to quit. Sometime this involves making adjustments, finding new methods or new strategies, but we don’t just throw up our hands and throw in the towel. We may need divine wisdom to get the job done, but we will do “whatever it takes.” Later we read:
15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.
Isn’t that interesting, in Nehemiah 4:6, we had read that “the people had a mind to work,” but in Nehemiah 6:16, their enemies perceived that this work had been done by God. So was it done by the people or by God? The answer is a resounding “yes!” The people had done the work, but they had been infused by a God-given determination and resolve. God worked through them in the accomplishing of this assignment.
Remember the Amos 3:3 principle – in order for two people to walk together, they must be in agreement and they must be heading the same direction. God has a plan, and He is determined to do whatever it takes to see that plan fulfilled. When we share His attitude and resolve, we can fully participate with Him and partner with Him in the fulfilling of His dreams and objectives. Let us renew our commitment to do whatever it takes—to do our part—in the building of His church in the making of disciples throughout the entire world.