GLS18 Session Notes–Erwin McManus–The Last Arrow

Published August 16, 2018

I am convinced that the greatest battles we ever fight are the ones within us. And if we can figure out how to conquer the darkness inside, we can move forward into the light.

We are all desperately afraid that there is greatness inside of us that will never be actualized.

  • Story of Bill McManus: When my son Aaron was 15-years-old, he wanted to meet his step-grandfather. Bill McManus said, “I don’t know what your Dad has told you, but he was just average. His brother was exceptional. But your dad was just average.” Those words echoed in my soul.
    • I was never average. I was always below average.

You’ve been created by God who gives you intention and purpose and significance. I have known too many people with so much potential. But their lives never lived up to what everyone else saw in them.

We live our lives holding on to the status quo, and we are terrified of breaking away from the pack to become uniquely the person who God created us to be.

We need to ask the question, “How can I become the person I was created to be?”

  • Bible story of King Jehoash and Elisha (2 Kings). King Jehoash is about to be destroyed by an army and he knows the only way to win is if God is on his side. Elisha tells him to take arrows and to strike them on the ground and he will have victory. So the king strikes the ground three times and stops. Elisha asks him why he stopped. By stopping, he would only have partial victory.

And I wonder how many of us have confused those moments in our life—we thought we failed, but what we really did was quit. We’ve settled for much less than the life we are supposed to live.

  • Story of Erwin’s journey with cancer: A medical test revealed that Erwin had a very aggressive and advanced form of cancer. He thought The Last Arrow might be his final book. He opened up the manuscript and read a sentence he had written a year earlier: “I need to tell you before you hear it from somebody else that I’m dying…but so are you.”

Most of us live our lives as if we are going to live forever. We are all dying. We don’t get days back. We need to treat each day like they are sacred.

Some of you are living your life in fear. Freedom is on the other side of your fear! Too many people say they have faith, but they are paralyzed by fear.

When you put death behind you, life is the only thing in front of you.

If you don’t deal with the paralyzing power of fear in your life, you will never live the life you were created to live.

If you don’t deal with the paralyzing power of fear in your life, you will never live the life you were created to live.

Leadership is not about living in the confines of your fear but it’s about facing them and running through them. Greatness is on the other side of our pain.

  • Story of walking through pain. Six hours after the surgery, I decided I wanted to get up and walk. I reasoned, “If I can stand this pain, I can face whatever pain in ahead of me.” We need to learn how to walk in our pain. Three months after surgery, I played two hours of basketball at the gym.
  • An atheist friend said my cancer might be the one thing that drives him to prayer. I realized my recovery wasn’t for me. I’m not afraid of death because I’m already alive.

I live for this purpose: I want people who are so afraid to get up and live life again. I want them to know that their pain was not the limit of their life. You need to go through pain to step into greatness.

Jesus did not come to give us a way out of pain. He came to give us a way through pain. Trust that God has something extraordinary on the other side of your wounds and pain.

People want to define us by our worst moments. But God does not define you by your worst moments. He sees in you a greatness that you cannot see in yourself.

Failure is not the end of the story.

  • Story of Erwin’s company. When you are living in a story bigger than your own, failure just enhances the story. Erwin’s business partner embezzled millions of dollars and he lost everything. In the middle of the collapse, his son Aaron came back to Jesus. He challenged Erwin to live 100%.

I’m standing in front of you as a person who knows failure after failure after failure. Faith doesn’t make life easier. Faith makes you stronger.

Faith doesn’t make life easier. Faith makes you stronger.

Forty years ago, I had a life-changing encounter with the creator of the universe. I never thought it was possible. But I came to know that God had stepped into human history in the person of Jesus. I didn’t care about heaven. I didn’t care about hell. I was terrified that I would live and die and never do anything meaningful. I was terrified that my dad was right—that I was nothing but average.

A life is waiting for you. Your faith is the fuel you need to step into your pain and into your fear and into your failures.

Take the arrow and strike and strike and strike and strike and strike.

And when you take your last breath, let your quiver be empty. And let your last arrow be in your hand.


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About the Author(s)
Erwin McManus

Erwin McManus

Author, Futurist, Founder

Mosaic, Los Angeles

Erwin McManus is senior pastor of MOSAIC, a church in Los Angeles known for its innovation, creativity, diversity and social entrepreneurism. A thought-provoking communicator, McManus has spoken to more than a million people in 50 countries on leadership, creativity and culture. In his latest book, The Way of the Warrior: An Ancient Path to Inner Peace, McManus shows that encountering peace comes by artful intention.

Years at GLS 2003, 2011, 2018