Monday, June 21, 2010

Apostles and Prophets - A Story of Friendship

I’ve become friends with one of the most amazing men in the world. This letter is a tribute to him.

As I look around and see people adrift in their spiritual life, I’m fortunate to have found something that has kept my spiritual life more or less on track. I’d like to share with you the secret to this blessing.

A man I know who pastors a church I once attended resigned this week. Many church leaders have been in this spot. Eagerly taking the assignment, years later they’re floundering and frustrated in the adventure they once loved.

Some of us enter the church full of hope. But after suffering through painful experiences – we find ourselves looking at the church through eyes of pain and regret. What went wrong?

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus saying that the church was founded on the apostles and prophets, with Christ being the cornerstone.

I never gave much thought to this verse until recently. Today, I understand the necessity of living by this truth.

I have friends who are reluctant to trust any kind of church leaders. Having been burned by them in the past – they see leaders as people out to control others. The men I know who shun leaders call themselves free men. They have only the Lord as their authority; they answer to no man. What becomes of them? They go off on adventures they can’t share with others. They learn secrets so deep no one else could possibly understand them. They’re free from criticism and free from the authority that would try to make them ‘normal believers.’ Blown in whatever direction the spiritual winds blow, they are boats tossed on the sea, rudderless and directionless. I feel for these adventurers who drift and spin and never seem to settle down to the business of life in the church. Were it not for a friend who came alongside me, I would have become one of these men.

I met this friend a few years ago, when I was in a season of major adjustment in every part of my life. I felt an instant ‘attraction’ to this guy that I couldn’t explain. I spent time sending him e-mails, asking a lot of questions. He patiently answered what he could and referred me to resources to do my own investigating on the rest. He didn’t spoon - feed me anything. He never treated me as someone less spiritual or less knowledgeable. He seemed to believe I was a peer – on equal ground in most respects, even though I didn’t see it that way.

A few months into our friendship, he pointed me to an article he wrote about ministry flowing through relationships. The article profoundly changed my life. I began to realize that success in ministry must be established through healthy relationships. One day it dawned on me why so many people don’t trust church leaders. Church pastors are assigned their positions. The people who attend a church have no voice in who becomes their leader. There’s no requirement to develop friendship or trust before a pastor is allowed to speak to you about your life. Its no wonder so many people reject the counsel of church leaders, when it comes from a complete stranger. No wonder so many pastors leave their congregations.

As our friendship grew, we occasionally met face to face, but it was rare because we’re both busy. We began to send text messages when we needed prayer. God gave me some dreams in which I was doing ministry with him. Then I began to have visions about him. In the visions, I saw God equipping him for battle before he knew there was a battle coming. In some visions, I saw his eyes fixed on the king he served. When I told him about the visions – it gave him great joy to know that God saw him this way.

My friend has been a constant source of humor, insight, revelation, encouragement, instruction, prayer support and so many other things I desperately need. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

My friend has free reign to discuss with me any part of my life. That’s a choice I made freely. He doesn’t have the final say. But he has freedom to discuss things. I know that I need someone to be accountable to – not because I’m a rascal, but because I’m human. I have good days and bad days. I run into teaching and experiences that are ‘questionable’ at times. He has the same issues I have. We keep each other on track and moving in the right direction.

Christ is the cornerstone; everything in the church is to be in alignment with him. The church rests on a foundation provided by apostles and prophets. An apostle without a prophet is adrift on the sea. A prophet without an apostle is a loose cannon that will eventually hurt those around him. In tandem, they keep each other in proper alignment. Together they carry the train we call the church.

I am blessed to have such a friend. I'd like to encourage everyone who reads this to find a kindred spirit who can come along side you as this man has to me.



Don Deskins said...

Do you have a link to the article about "ministry flowing through relationships"?

Prayingmedic said...

Here's the link: