I love to play golf with my son...and also My grandson now...he is just learning. Corey, my son, and I play at about the same level...bad. We might have a good day and we do not need mulligans to feel better about ourselves but other days...a few do overs help mightily. Most of you who are parents out there will get this next thing I am about to write. I really get more joy when I see Corey hit a great shot that when I hit one. (not that I do very often:) He can hit the ball further and I love to see him whack it a good one. I enjoy him sinking a long putt or pulling off a good chip...whatever he does it always more fun to watch him succeed. I still do not like to lose to him but I am getting better there. You really long to see your kids...grandkids do well.
As I continue to grow older, and I have not figured out how to stop that other than checking out and I am having too much fun to do that, I get the same sense as I see men and women God has placed around us do awesome things. In our 19 years of leading our church we have had men and women come through and go on that God has used and is using to do amazing things with them. One young man God gave the vision to bring the C back to the YMCA and God is using him nationally and internationally to encourage this very thing. Some other couples felt led to help start a local House of Prayer in Toledo...and they are doing that. Numerous couples and singles have adopted children...local and international. Another young man came to us from Nigeria and served us for quite a while in our college ministry. He has since moved on and is building a great ministry among students and travels nationally with some big name musical groups speaking and raising money for well in Africa. Incredibly gifted...out of our midst. We love every bit of it! They, and many more I cannot put here, are so much more gifted...doing such great things...making such a big splash in this world. So proud of them...so blessed by them.
As I look back I am not sure what part we would have played in all of this...maybe not much...but maybe quite a bit. I think the best thing we did was give them a place and space to go for it...do dream big...to take risks....I can remember the time Sammy was making a sermon point...can’t remember for sure what it was but it was good...and then to prove his point he ripped some pages out of the Bible. Oh yes he did! Got some feed back on that one...but I would rather lose a few Bibles than to stifle passion. Don’t think he will do it again...but your never know.
I am always concerned when I see leaders who have to be the one leading and looking successful. Using other peoples gifts and talents to promote themselves...to be always holding someone back because they are not quite ready yet. How do we get ready? Back in the day a church I was part of decided to have an elders in training program. To gather some leaders and train them to be elders...sounds good so far doesn’t it? But there was never a graduation date...no one ever finished...always in training...know release date. So when they closed the church doors I guess I was still in training...still am I suppose. It was nice to be noticed but it was a shame I could never graduate...or at least get kicked out. Leader was insecure...had a great idea...but not sure enough in himself to release others to lead.
For some being “the Pastor” is something to be grasped and protected...a title for reverence. They are the personality that drives the church and anyone else can be seen as a threat if they have some level of gifting too. I drive down the street and see the billboards with their names and faces out there for all to see and to be drawn to. I find it kind of strange myself. I have never been ables to grasp the idea that this is my ministry...I am pretty sure it is Jesus ministry and I get to walk along with Him. I am sure I am a bit backwards in many ways but it makes me feel safer about who I am. I never carry business cards with me...first of all in my wallet they would be all crunched up and dirty...and I don’t think they are necessary...for me.
I think my point in writing is that I am in a season where I am really enjoying watching others be fruitful that I have had some contact with. My friends In Zimbabwe are doing so well...I love to hear what God is doing with them...new small groups starting up...new life happening...baptisms. Training...equipping...evangelism...all cool things. Now I am not writing saying this is because of me, I am saying I was there. I have new friends and they are doing so well...leading like they were meant to lead.
Working with a couple of friends out west of me in a small community. Man they have been through a lot of stuff and they are still going on...change is happening...and we are just hanging out. I told them I do not have programs and schemes to pick up the pieces again but I can be a friend. I can listen...I can pray. Maybe sometimes you don’t lead by being out front but you lead by coming alongside...help carry some of the load...carry some stuff. Just a thought. Won’t sell many books to be sure...but might help a few continue the journey and isn’t that more important than book sales?
In Mexico we hung out with the guy who gets everything done for the ministry there...hard worker...tireless. Seems like when we first met all he did was work and build and it is important for what they are doing there. In the past few years I have watched as God has begun changing him though...to a pastor of a small colonia church...his wife is really running everything pretty much right now...but he is coming along. You can hear it when he talks...about God and about this church he is overseeing. How he wants them to be a people filled with His presence...how He wants to build a place of hope...how he longs to equip his people to succeed. I told him it is going to get harder and harder for him to be away from this church family...to build things.. It is going to get stronger and stronger on his heart to care, along with his wife, for the people God has put under his care. I love it...because it is like my story a bit...and my friends in Zim...we were just going along enjoying life and church...WHAM!...we are pastors. We fought it...denied it...prayed around it...then gave in to it.
Funny thing the church we are working with nearby are men and women that knew this is what they were going to do...trained for it...pursued it...got it. Kind of different for me to be interacting with them a little...but good for me...and them. It will work out...they have some real organized leaders working with them also...I am just there for the relationship part. To be the old guy in the room whose knees cracks when he stands up...who lost all his hair...and his beard is totally gray. My only desire is that they do well...better than me...they finish this race strong. It is Jesus Church...not mine...not theirs...His. I think He wants them to do well...don’t you?