David Garrison, author of Church Planting Movements, introduced me to the idea of being a lizard. A lizard stays on the hunt looking for food, unlike a frog who sits around on a lily pad waiting for his food to come flying by.
Over the years, when I’ve done missionary training, I’ve given out little plastic lizards. On my birthday, I often hear from some of those I’ve trained and they all say they still have their lizards. In fact, I have three sitting on my computer as I write this. Something about being a lizard attracts us. And I’m not talking about that gecko on TV.
Missionary thinking demands identifying the resources needed to get the job done–time, talents, and treasures. These resources are in the harvest, but need to be discovered. Waiting around for someone to stumble upon your need is unnecessary and potentially harmful.
1. Lizards stay on the hunt. They are extremely quick and are very determined. They know food is out there waiting to be found. Jesus said that we must count the cost before starting (Luke 14:28). Missouri Baptists are not in competition. We are known for cooperation and we’re in a new day of powerful partnering. During Workers in the Harvest missionary training, a learning exercise challenges participants to share their resources. It has rarely happened. We tend to protect our own and share nothing. When Jesus sent out His followers on mission, He said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay” (Matthew 10:8 ESV).
2. Lizards can be almost anywhere. “The lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces” (Proverbs 30:28 ESV). Access to people is possible with a bit of courtesy, patience, and tenacity. At times, this means humbling yourself to seek resources among the haves, but also walking among the have-nots. There’s no excuse to impose limitations when God knows our needs. We trust that He is already at work among those with resources to carry out His will; the unfinished task of evangelization.
3. Lizards are cold-blooded and need warmth from the sun. Apart from the Son of God, “you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Lizards seek out the sun on a regular basis, and we must seek out the Son, too. During life’s cold snaps, we might need to spend more time with Him than in other seasons of life. The theme of the State Evangelism Conference is “Desperate for Jesus.” Register to attend at www.mobaptist.org/sec.
4. Lizards vary in size and shape. First, they’re reptiles, not amphibians. According to the Reptile Database, there are 6,145 species of lizards (Aug. 2015). There are 13 species in Missouri. Some lizards are chameleons that can shift their color to match their environment. Some are three inches long while others are ten or more feet long. Only two species are poisonous. God made us all unique. When the Holy Spirit entered us as a guarantee of our salvation, He also uniquely gifted us. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1 NASB). As we live for the Lord, we are invited to join Him in His mission.
5. Lizards live in communities. Networking and resourcing go hand-in-hand. They know where to get needed help. They are usually seen alone, but they have mates that give them responsibilities beyond their own needs. They develop a healthy appreciation for those around them, learn from them, and can be alerted to danger or alert others through body language. The point is that they are skilled communicators.
You can take an analogy only so far, so I’ll claim what Garrison liked to add, “When a lizard gets his tail chewed off, he can grow a new one.”
--Mark Snowden, Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnnati Area Baptist Association