3 Tools That Help You Build Upon Lasting Foundations

August 8, 2023
tools for building

How to Combine Steadiness With Sturdiness

At Scatter, we’re equipping you with the tools and resources you need to thrive in the ways God has uniquely designed you to contribute. We want to see you leverage your personality and passion, your talents and training to bring real and lasting impact to the world around you.

The Scripture talks about how when a storm hits, the house built on stone will last while the house built on sand will get washed away. This parable is a visual reminder of the importance of a strong foundation and it forces us to ask the vital question: what am I building my life upon?

While Jesus was primarily describing a life of faith and following him as opposed to a life built on the world, this parable is also useful when looking at how we engage with significance and impact.

If after introspection you find that you’re positioned on more sand than stone, then you know where to start. You can’t build anything upward that’s sturdy without a stable foundation, so getting the bedrock in place becomes the top priority. How do you do that? You hone in on the types of skills you never graduate from, things like humility, empathy, or gratitude. You edit how you define impact in a way that includes both the now and the later opportunities for contribution. And you put your feet to the long road, committing to the work and the way of service and sacrifice.

But let’s say that after our original introspection, you feel confident that you have a strong foundation. Where do you go from there? How do you build upon a good base and how do you ensure that what you’re building is not only holy to God but helpful to people and honoring to you?

While there are a handful of tools that help you build on good foundations, I want to go deeper into these three: learning, leveraging, and leaning.

Said another way, if you’re wanting to build things that last on foundations that will be sustained for the long arc, then you’ll need to embrace the roles of being a student, a contributor, and a fan.


The Tool of Learning

Being a learner is not dependent on the season of life you find yourself in. I know men in their fifties who are ten times more of a learner than I was in my early twenties.

Learning is not monopolized by any particular profession, it is not beholden to any relational group or societal status, nor is it automatically connected to things like aptitude or intelligence.

Learning is a posture of humility and curiosity. It is a tool that clarifies, sharpens, and prioritizes.

Because learning is most often facilitated through good questions and active listening, learning requires a mindful and willing spirit. We must aim to be aware of our own limitations and eager to collaborate with other long-arc builders who can add value in our lives and communities.

Adam Grant once said that “The purpose of learning isn’t to affirm our beliefs. It’s to evolve our beliefs.” This tool of learning invites us to look at what is in front of us with a mix of wonder and examination so that we can both change and be changed by whatever it is we are studying.

If you want to build relationships that last, learn about your friends. Learn about your spouse. Learn about your co-workers or your neighbors. And not simply the information. You don’t want just the facts and figures, you want the things that are true and the things that go deeper than what they might share on a social media feed. Be a student of what makes them unique and celebrate what you see.

If you want to build work that matters, be a student of your craft. Don’t rush to be the smartest or the loudest, the most senior or the most recognized. Take a step back and consider looking at the work from a different angle. Find other perspectives. A good learner is far more valuable than a bad leader.

As you learn, focus on implementation. Learning without action is the accumulation of knowledge. But learning with action has transformative potential. This leads us to our second tool.


The Tool of Leveraging

Archimedes once said, “Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.” That’s the principle of leveraging: using the unique levers that God has wired into us and that we have cultivated through intentional learning as fulcrums to shift and lift things in the world around us.

Maybe you are talented with numbers and math makes sense to you. With skill and character, you can leverage that gifting in practically every sphere of your life.

Maybe math isn’t your thing, but instead, your levers are in the arts and entertainment industry. Or in healthcare, or in business relations. Perhaps your levers aren’t necessarily professional or hard skills but are more in tune with soft skills, like compassion or wisdom, or joy.

I don’t know what exactly you may be able to leverage to contribute towards building on lasting foundations, but I do know that you have things that are unique to you that the world needs.

The secret to effective leveraging is to safeguard against unnecessary comparison.

Writer and communicator Brene Brown describe comparison as “the crush of conformity from one side and competition from the other. It's trying to simultaneously fit in and stand out. Comparison says, ‘be just like everyone else, but better.’”

You will not leverage what is uniquely yours to contribute if you are consumed with trying to look like everyone else. We have different roles, different talents, and different wirings for a reason, and if we’re to build things that last, we need your unique levers to be pulled and added to the ongoing design.


The Tool of Leaning

The word “leaning” isn’t something you’d typically think would be associated with a strong and sturdy structure. But that’s because it's easy to spend more time focused on the outcome (or building) rather than the people who sacrificed and did the learning and leveraging to add significant contributions around them.

The tool of leaning is about the power of support and the intangibles that make that happen.

It’s about using your voice, your words and intentionality, to bless, celebrate, encourage, and raise up the people and work around you.

Leaning is an interesting tool because you can only really lean one of two ways: in or out. When you lean out, you resign. You wash your hands or dust off your boots and determine that whatever it was you were building wasn’t ultimately worth your best effort. Sometimes, leaning out is healthy, but more often than not, if you’re trying to build on lasting foundations, leaning out is a form of self-protection and preservation.

Leaning ‘in’ on the other hand is an acceptance of the sacrifice. It’s a deliberate drawing near. It is as if you are offering up the things you’ve learned and the skills you can leverage for the greater mission.

Maybe it’s time for you to lean ‘in’ to your marriage. Or your work and colleagues. Or your family. Your neighborhood. Your church. Your talents. Anyone can lean, but it takes a special commitment to lean ‘in’ with consistency.


Counting the Cost

My friend and fellow writer, Luke Baker, once told me, “To be loved by Jesus will cost you nothing. To be like Jesus will cost you everything.”

If you want to build on lasting foundations, if you want to contribute well and leave a legacy of significant impact, then you’re going to have to count the cost before you build. That’s what Jesus says in Luke 14:27-29, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.”

If finishing well is the goal, then we’ll need to be willing to count the cost and pay the price.

We’ll need to count the cost of being a learner, namely the laying down of our pride. We’ll need to count the cost of leveraging our lives, namely the laying down of our comparison. And we’ll need to count the cost of our leaning in towards the mission, namely our comfort and self-preservation.

If you are willing to lay aside your pride, your comfort, and your self-preservation, I am confident that you will be well-poised to make an undeniable impact in the most significant spheres of life around you.

To learn more about what it means to make a kingdom impact in the world, sign up for the Scatter Email!

Article by Jake Daghe, writer and director of discipleship at Passion City Church

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