By: Betty Lee Skinner
READ: Spring 2000
Summary: Skinner has done a great job capturing who Dawson Trotman was as a person and leader. It has pictures, excerpts from his journals, and accounts from those closest to him. The result is a biography that has some real balance. It's not a hagiography like other books about Dawson and those like him. This book is inspiring, challenging, and well-written.
Chapters: 1. The Making of a Man of God 1906-1933 2. "They That Go Down to the Ships" 1933-1937 3. Training Trainers of Men 1937-1942 4. Sharing the Other Man's Dream 1942-1944 5. Toward Producing Reproducers 1944-1948 6. "Let's Finish the Job" 1948-1956 7. The Legacy
Disciple men and women in the fundamentals of the Wheel and the Hand and in particular get them disciplined in Scripture Memory.
Ask God to change the world, trusting in His character and claiming His promises.
Witness for Christ to lost people at every opportunity.
Spiritually Reproduce to the third and fourth generation.
1. Disciple men and women in the fundamentals of the Wheel and the Hand and in particular get them disciplined in Scripture Memory.
Daws came to Christ through Scripture Memory. pg 30.32
Compare Scripture with Scripture to find truth and avoid tangents pg 36
The outstanding thing was the obvious first place Jesus Christ had in his life pg 39
Every verse was an arrow pointed at someone’s heart. pg 40
The memorized Word is a Christian’s vital source of power. pg 44
Persistent emphasis on the Word and Scripture Memory brought criticism. Pg 59
The fruitful servant of God must be a man of much prayer and must saturate his life with God’s Word. pg 61
He applied God’s Word to every phase of his life. pg 72
Three key questions: (1) What does the Bible say? (2) What does the Bible mean? (3) What am I going to do about it? pg 77
Dawson emphasized systematic Bible study, consistent prayer life, living witness to Christ’s power, and sensitive obedience in everyday life. But his main topic was Scripture Memory. pg 102
The Navigator name came as Daws and a group of sailors traveled across the country visiting churches. They searched for a name for their servicemen’s group and “they began to find parallels to spiritual navigation. All men were out on life’s sea, some adrift without rudder or compass, others with no captain or home port. A Navigator was under way with Jesus Christ aboard as Captain of his salvation, the Bible as his chart and nautical almanac, and the Holy Spirit as his compass. Once a man learned to navigate, demonstrating these principles in his daily life, he could steer another on a true course and teach him in turn to navigate with Christ as his Captain. The name Navigators sounded better all the time, and by the end of the trip it stuck.” pg 106
“There would not be any Navigators today if discipline had not been part of it.” pg 132
One man who Daws helped as a boy said “What squared me away more than anything was memorizing the verses.” pg 142
Daws required that the boys apply the Scripture they memorized to their lives. (James 1:22) pg 142
“So follow-up became Dawson’s message that year, along with the challenge to memorize and the continuing sermon on The Wheel.” pg 158
2. Ask God to change the world, trusting in His character and claiming His promises.
As he kept his prayer appointments, he looked for promises from God. pg40 “Lord, give me an idea” was his prayer for creative ideas to ministry needs. pg 41-43
“Prayer is God speaking into existence through human lips.” pg 62
The forty days of prayer – from Lomita, CA to the world. pg 62
“Why should Christians who claim God’s promise of peace from Isaiah 26:3 or forgiveness of sin from Isaiah 1:18 consider the promise in Isaiah 58:12 off limits?” pg 63
In his Bible he wrote next to the Isaiah promises “That God will soon bring us into touch with a mighty band of young men, strong rugged soldiers of the cross, with an eye singled to His glory.” pg 69
In his journal, “ Truly our most difficult work, as refreshing and as wonderful as it is ––– Prayer.” pg 75
“And Dawson, at twenty-seven, anticipated God’s God’s working with a confidence that bordered on presumption.” pg 84
“I’ll never forget pouring over that map there under the trees and praying for different people. Dawson was a very practical man and a pacesetter in prayer.” pg 92
“No matter which Bible I used it was Isaiah, along from chapter 40 to the end, especially 43, 44, 45, and over in 58. As time went on I knew beyond any doubt that God had given me these promises and would make them good if I’d only obey Him and believe Him.” pg 153
Key promises Daws prayed… Isaiah 43:1-7; Isaiah 43:18,19; Isaiah 58:12; Song of Solomon 3:8; Isaiah 54:2,3; Isaiah 50:4,7 pg 154, 155, 165
“Israel’s job was to get the Scriptures to all the nations, all the families of the earth, to the Gentiles,” he explained. “That’s why God chose them, to bless all the families of the earth, but they failed. Now God has put in the hands of Christ, and of us, the job He originally gave to Israel. Galatians 3:16 says, Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises given… With Christ, the seed of Abraham, God started all over, and if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, he is the image of Christ, and job God started through Abraham must be carried on through Christ, and through us, so that in us all the families of the earth will be blessed.” pg 214, 215
3. Witness for Christ to lost people at every opportunity.
Dawson determined he would not be caught twice without the Bible answer to a question. pg 33
Witness to your family by a change of life, before speaking directly about Christ. pg 35
“No matter how often Daws witnessed, it was never without fear. He once gave this analysis: “I realized that fear was a little flashing red light to remind me it was ‘not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.’” (Zech 4:6) pg 68
“The hit-and-run evangelism he and others had practiced for years, resulting in the “survival of the fittest,” he now condemned as dead wrong.” pg 70
In Dawson’s philosophy “a few, more carefully trained, could in the long run reach more in evangelism.” pg 179
At area conferences, “Greater emphasis on evangelism marked this summer’s sessions, with a veering away from notebook and hour-a-week training of men toward more training by influence of life and the “with him” principle. pg 314, 315
In Formosa, Daws found “the same lack of understanding of the individual’s responsibility before the Lord that so hindered the church in other lands. A simple awakening of the lay Christian to his role as a witness would be a great victory for the cause of Christ.” pg 318
4. Spiritually Reproduce to the third and fourth generation.
Through working with boys he discovered the power of speaking to them one to one. pg 41
Daws was a compulsive sharer – he decided to publish a course to get others memorizing Scripture. pg 44
His prime interest was individuals. pg 54
“If I can’t go to India, let me send men.” pg 56
Les Spencer was with Daws as he shared the gospel with a policeman. Les exclaimed “Boy, I’d give my right arm to know how to use the Word like that.” “No you wouldn’t,” Daws baited him. “I said, I would.” Les replied. It was the response Dawson wanted. “All right, you can. And it won’t cost your arm, but you’ll have to be willing to dig in and study and apply yourself. I’ll give you all the time you’ll take.” pg 76
He began to see his ministry as two-pronged, extensive and intensive. He would sow beside all waters… and he would spend countless hours with one man. pg 78
Les Spencer came to Daws about a Gurney Harris his shipmate. He asked Daws if Gurney could come to Daws’ home and learn what Daws was teaching him. Daws said he was welcome but he also encouraged Les to disciple Gurney himself. “I haven’t had the training,” Les objected. “Doesn’t matter.” Dawson looked him in the eye. “If you can’t teach him what I’ve taught you, I’ve failed.” pg 82,83
“This practice of man-to-man admonition among Navigators became a normal element of discipling, in obedience to their Lord’s command. Yet it was not common practice outside Navigator circles, nor has it been in large measure since. It remained a distinguishing mark among these men in whom obedience to God overcame fear of man and whose bonds of love in Christ would bear the risk of lost friendship. The practice has contributed much through the years to building stalwart soldiers of Christ.” pg 116
But one activity and least conspicuous and most significant at 4845 was man-to-man ministry. pg 131
“Ezekiel 22:30 was one verse he used often: ‘I sought for a man…’” pg 144
“We’ll have to help them with their little problems and teach them how to look to the Lord for wisdom and guidance and everything else they need.”
“We have to fight to keep small instead of fighting to grow. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But if you’re gonna have foundations of many generations, you’ve got to have foundations that don’t buckle under pressure, huh?” pg 156
1940 was a banner year and two reasons were evident. 1. Dawson’s move to major on training leaders who could carry a complete ministry on their own was beginning to pay off in results on ships and at ports. 2. A dozen or more men had reenlisted in the Navy for the purpose of ministry. pg 158, 159
In examining a work, Daws instructed the local leader to make it “more Navigator”. The leader was teaching the Word, but the training man-to-man was missing– instructing, assigning studies, and coaching them in their labors on base and shipboard mission fields. pg 164
Daws’ desire was to recruit men like Spurgeon’s quote “fully yielded, through whom God would show his power. There should be hundreds of such men and women, but they would have to be found and trained one by one.” pg. 180
“…the solidity of the work done in lives from man to man on down the line was essential if any of it was going to last.” pg 193
“He did not seem afraid we would know him so well that he might not command our respect,” Gus reflected. “He could let you know anything about him– and be so nonprofessional. And too, he seemed to suffer the same tests and temptations we did; he gave intensely practical advice about things like our attitude toward girls and so on.” pg 205
“Numbers don’t count so much. It’s man to man talks about God’s Word that really count.” pg 218
Rev. George Bostrom said “You can tell a Navigator as soon as he walks in…They know the word.” pg 243
“Somehow the tide must be turned from so many meetings toward committing things learned to faithful men, and many “things learned” were best imparted from life to life.” “That was it; producing reproducers. A man would reproduce after his kind, reproduce both man and method. Classes produced classes; faithful men produced faithful men.” “…man-to-man was not only the most effective but the fastest way to reach the greatest number of men.” “All key hands have been made to see that for the most part meetings, meetings, meetings have practically robbed all of them of time alone with men. Remedies are being made gladly.” “It was clear to Daws now that this was the principle he had searched for, to apply purposefully throughout the work. He would begin immediately to preach Produce Reproducers–which in terms of the Great Commission he and many others would come to regard as the golden key.” pg 263
In meeting with a group of discouraged missionaries in India he noted “that their training for foreign service had omitted two things most needed: the know-how and importance of discipling those won to Christ and of maintaining their own fellowship with the Lord.” pg 290
“The secret of fulfilling Mark 16:15 is in the last verses of Matthew–making disciples.” pg 296
“You have a New Testament tonight, gang, because the apostles believed in follow-up.” In Thessalonians, Daws found 24 places that indicated that Paul felt responsible to follow-up the Thessalonians. pg 301
“In the early days of The Navigators we spent lots of time with one man. Then the war brought hundreds of contacts in on us and everything was Bible classes; we lost sight of the necessity of man-to-man training in making disciples.” “Even if you do major in man-to-man, group work is tremendously important. You can have precious fellowship in a group that you can’t have just with one another.” “A group give balance to your life and keeps you from being just one man’s disciple.” pg 304
“so the 2:2 principle as we refer to it is the Christian reproducing after his kind, and man-to-man is more the idea of father and son, parental nurturing and training up in the faith. They are interwoven. Man-to-man is basic to the 2:2 ministry but won’t reach the uttermost part of the earth; 2:2 will. And I hope none of you fellows will be satisfied until you see your greatgrandchildren in the Lord. It’s a goal every one of you could aim at. I’m no longer concerned about accomplishing a lot for God. If I can see my great great-great-grandchildren strong, in the Word, reproducers, that’s all I want.” pg. 305
5. Life Lessons and Principles
“Never make the same mistake twice.” pg 33
“Human nature tends toward inertia in spiritual things it needs a prop, a stimulant– the stimulant of other persons to prod and encourage them to continue, and to convenience of methods which make it as easy as possible to follow through.” pg 38
The statement of D.L.Moody often quoted, that “God has yet to show what He can do through the life of a man who is wholly yielded to Him, drew from Dawson the inevitable response: ”O God let me be that man.” pg 38
“Never do anything that someone can or will do, when there is so much to be done that others cannot or will not do.” pg 61, 329
“God can do more through one man who is 100 percent dedicated to Him than through 100 men who are only 90 percent.” pg 69
“You can lead a man to Christ in twenty minutes to a couple of hours, but it takes twenty weeks to a couple of years to adequately follow him up.”
“Emotion is no substitute for action.” “Action is no substitute for production
“It is better to master a little than to be semi-clear on a lot.” pg 97
“The greatest waste of time is the waste of time in getting started.” pg 101
“Systems don’t work by themselves; they must be made to work by personal effort.” pg 103
FIVE KEY PRINCIPLES FOR MINISTRY
1. One certainty was the life principle of The Wheel.
2. Follow-up was also basic.
3. Scripture memory as an imperative in the Christian life.
4. The unique worth of the Navigator home as a base for ministry.
5. Obeying the Lord’s command to get the Gospel to all the world meant not only discipling of individuals, but training an army of leaders in-depth – men who could be trainers of others. pg 122, 123
“The more he worked with these men, the more he saw the necessity for providing tools to help carry out their decisions to follow Christ.” pg 138
“If I hafta meet a certain deadline, I’ll give it the old effort. But if I wait until a convenient season so as to accomplish a great amount, it’s too hard to find a season convenient enough and time slips by. Y’know, I think that’s just human nature. We all need that extra push and the challenge of something to aim for to get us to do what we ought to do but can’t on our own.” pg 152, 153
“Methods and materials could turn failure toward success in the real objective–knowing Christ and making Him known–and Dawson made no apology. He was merely packaging a product for which there was both need and demand.” pg 170
“Much as he deplored hurting a colaborer’s feelings, he still let nothing curb his genius for devising a better way to do it.” pg 229
“He concluded that the closer one pressed into the enemy’s territory the harder he fought.” pg 258
“In one of two cases the head of an organization made the Topical Memory System mandatory for his staff, something Daws did not favor; he preferred to give a strong challenge and let response be voluntary, having long since learned that excess pressure could sour a person on something even clearly in his best interest.” pg 278
“Telling is not teaching, listening is not learning.” pg 300
“Every time we are stirred to do a job and fail to follow through, we not only immediately fail, but lessen our drive and weaken our prayers of resolution.” pg. 334