The 15-Second Challenge

15-second challenge

“Leave an extravagant tip.” 

“Offer to pray with him right now.”

“Buy her coffee.”

“Share the story of what I did for you.”

You’ve heard these whispers, felt these prompting to do good. Usually it’s something that costs you little more than a couple minutes of time and a bit of vulnerability. How consistently do you obey?

My teaching leader at Bible Study Fellowship said recently that we have about 15 seconds to respond to such promptings or our likelihood to act drops precipitously. Since hearing that factoid I’ve challenged myself to listen more closely and say yes more often.

So far the Lord has not asked me to “sell everything I have and give it to the poor” (Matthew 19:21). Rather, it’s a daily stream of little nudges. Of course, it’s obedience in such small matters that He uses to prepare and equip us for greater responsibility:

‘Well done,

good and faithful servant!

You have been faithful

with a few things;

I will put you in charge

of many things.

Matthew 25:21

Wouldn’t you just love to hear the Lord speak such words to you? I know I would. And thus the dilemma. Why don’t I act with consistency? What holds me back?

When it comes to speaking boldly and sharing my faith it’s simple: Fear. I fear what someone might think of me, fear being labeled a “Jesus freak” or a kook.

This selfish, self-absorbed objection is a great reminder that I am overlooking what is really at stake. If someone’s physical life was at risk I wouldn’t hesitate to alert her by any means necessary, without worrying at all about how my frantic yelling and arm waving might look at that moment. My only focus would be on her well-being. There would be time later to reflect on, and even laugh about, how far I was willing to go in that pursuit.

As someone who has said yes to a relationship with Jesus, I am called to be a fisher of men, inviting others to experience “life to the fullest” (John 10:10) as I do in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Why would a lukewarm or even skeptical reaction to such an abundant and life-saving offer deter me from continuing to extend the invitation? Good questions...and yet far too often I do.

Other times my reluctance is pure selfishness. I receive a $10 tab in a restaurant and I get a nudge to leave a big tip in Jesus’ name (@tipsforjesus). I can talk myself down from $50 to $5 faster than an auctioneer, rationalizing that $5 is a really good tip on that tab, ignoring the voice that reminds me $50 barely registers on my monthly grocery bill for my family of six.

Imagine giving your child $20 to treat him and his friends to snacks at the movies, and then finding out that he bought himself a giant drink, popcorn and candy, and gave his friends only a small popcorn to share. As the giver, wouldn’t you be astounded by such selfishness? Wouldn’t you have expected your child to honor your will for how that gift was to be used? He may have complied with what you asked, but he clearly missed the spirit behind the gift. That’s how I think God looks at my petty selfishness when it comes to financial gifts.

The good news is, while I as a parent am likely to respond with a lecture about selfishness and a threat to not be so generous in the future, God is a perfectly loving father.

God’s kindness leads

us to repentance.

Romans 2:4

When I whiff at such moments I am tempted to self-condemnation over my failure; it’s then that I encounter the God of second chances. I know I messed up, but God just smiles (and doubles down), putting endless opportunities before me to do better the next time, and the time after that.

Here are some of the questions I ask myself to help embolden me to step forward with increasing eagerness and less fear in His name:

  1. What if I am the only one who will bring Christ’s light into this person’s life today?
  2. What if my words are the last nudge this person needs to finally commit her life to Christ?
  3. What if this person is approaching a breaking point and needs assurance of God’s love for him?

Jesus couldn’t have been more clear in his parting words to those of us who profess to love Him:

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them

in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Matthew 26:20


This week I encourage you to join me in taking the 15-second challenge:

  1. Stop: Pray each morning (before you get out of bed) for God to put someone in your path whom you can serve that day.
  2. Look: Be more aware of those around you and open your heart to their needs.
  3. Listen: Know that if you ask God He will be faithful to put opportunities before you. Listen for those Spirit promptings…listen and obey.

Then share (ideally right in the comments section here) how your simple of act of obedience provided an opportunity for you to be a blessing to others and to be blessed by being His hands and feet to a brother or sister.

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