As a little bit of a preface, the Capâ€™n and I are in Godâ€™s school of lifeâ€¦ have been for our whole marriage. We donâ€™t ever want to stop learning. God is opening our eyes and helping us understand everything we ask Him about. Â He is so gentle and faithful to use life situations, and people in our lives, to help illustrate so much. By His work in us through the Holy Spirit, we remain fully submitted to Him, and we are blessed.A key issue we have struggled with on this journey is understanding what true New Testament â€œleadershipâ€ is supposed to look like. Â The main point resounding through this still-ongoing process is: True New Testament â€œleadershipâ€ doesnâ€™t look anything like a person behind a podium standing in front of a crowd. Â That was a later added Greek influence â€“ leaven kneaded in by the early church.
We look at the life and teachings of Christ, the words of Paul and the apostles, and we dig down to the original languages and interpretations of their meanings. Â We are hungry and thirsty to know Godâ€™s heart in this regard. It is vital.Â We have consulted so many deeply beloved, cherished and respected elders in the faith, and God has shown us so much in and through those relationshipsâ€¦ delicious servings of truth, peppered by experience and plated on faith.We are constantly panning all of these nuggets of wisdom and washing them through the water of the Spirit. Â Show us, Lord, what of all this is traditionâ€¦ what is personal visionâ€¦ what is personalityâ€¦ what is personal preference. Â Wash those things away, Father, so all that remains is Your original vision for Your church. Â You have already revealed so muchâ€¦ please give us more.
Todayâ€™s nugget was big.
At a recent gathering of leaders, I felt like God was urging me to tell a specific minister there â€œYou know, youâ€™re eventually going to have to have real relationships with these people, right?â€ This person is always happy to get behind the podium, but is visibly uncomfortable relating to people individually. When in a group, this sibling in Christ almost always gravitates to a quiet corner, rather than interact with people in a real way. Â It can be very off-putting for those who donâ€™t know them personally.Sadly, I was diverted by other conversations, and the opportunity to share this info â€œin the momentâ€ passed me by. With Godâ€™s help, I will do better at obeying His urging next time. I have since passed this message along to them, and it led to a long and fruitful conversation.
I was thinking about this exchange tonight while cooking dinner. Mostly, asking God to forgive me for â€œdropping the ballâ€ when Iâ€™d clearly felt His nudging, but also wondering what that message also held for us. (Because we all know, every time God asks us to point something out in someone else, there are always 3 other fingers on our hand pointing back at usâ€¦ right?Â )
Then God spoke into my heart:
â€œRead my Love Chapterâ€¦ substitute the word â€œrelationshipâ€ wherever you seeÂ the word â€œloveâ€.Thatâ€™s the message.â€
Ok, so here goes:
1 Corinthians 13Â (NIV)
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have relationship, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have relationship, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have relationship, I gain nothing.
4 Relationship is patient, relationship is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 relationship does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Relationship never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and relationship. But the greatest of these is relationship.
In that moment, God showed me that the distance between the podium and the pews is a barrier erected by our enemy. It is an invisible reconstruction of the temple veil Jesus paid with His own blood to rip open from top to bottom.
Break free from the podium prison, â€œSpiritual Leadersâ€â€¦ break free.
Itâ€™s ALL about relationship.