NOTHING IS REALLY OURS…
C.S. Lewis’ quote, “nothing is really ours... until we share it,” primarily talks about fellowship, relationship and partnership. It could also lay a solid foundation towards empowering leadership. We feel we have done our best and never seriously considered investing on others. No wonder, sufficient empowered second line leaders are found wanting, when it is time to change batons-successors who will wait on the Lord to ask “a double portion of the Lord.” The need of the hour is to step out, explore options, identify areas that will unite rather than break us, strengthen loopholes so that we could all arise as one body. While this in no way undermines the many strides that have been made, we still have ample room to scale up our activities.
Models Worth Emulating
In his book, Transforming children into Spiritual Champions, George Barna says, “…..the probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Saviour was 32% for those between the ages of 5 and 12: 4% for those in the 13-18 range; and 6% for people 19 or older. In other words, if people do not embrace Jesus Christ as their Saviour before they reach their teenage years, the chance of their doing so at all is slim.”
While this survey was USA-based, we can safely imply similar conclusions in our context. There are 540 million in the age group of 18-35 years. If they are going to be on the front, be it political, economical, social, churches, committed to making a difference and positively impact, we need to present them with models they will consider worth emulating. We want willing people to share their expertise, struggles, successes and to top it all, gracefully quit at the ripe time.
In my limited years in the Christian walk, I have learnt that there needs to be two pivotal elements of a true Christian heart: Input and Output-excellent jargons in the health and development world. For those who are exposed to those sectors, know international funding organisations are no more interested in lengthy proposals, but limit their reviews to the input and output ensuring that resources are well spent. I am indebted to (Late) Dr. Selwyn Hughes who helped me to see Input as Experience and Output as Expression.
Campbell Morgan says, “There are two ways to kill the ministry of a preacher. One is to kill his experience of God and his expression of God.” While this predominantly applies to preachers, it could also matter to us as individuals. When you and I do not have the experience, we will be at a loss of words when it comes to expressing them. If we have not experienced godly leadership while we were climbing up, chances are there is no way of expressing godly leadership to the next generation. Even if masked, sooner or later it is going to be torn.
Let us delve a bit deeper. John 4: 28 & 29 talks about two principles: GO - TELL and COME - SEE. I think we have all done very well with the former, with various modes for outreach evangelism, but surely struggling with the second one. Worse, many times we are not able to show case models for new believers who want to be nurtured. Being interwoven and interdependent they need to go hand in hand.
J.B. Philips translation of II Corinthians 9: 10 says He gives seed only to the one who uses it. If we don’t use it, we don’t get it. The story of the talents also points in the same direction. The following areas are worth considering:
a. Learning to Listen: Learning to listen to the still voice of God, our Pastors, mentors and other leaders who disciple us. A German Theologian said, “Whoever can no longer listen to their sister or brother will soon no longer be listening to God either.” In a lecture on development Journalism, the then Editor of Prajavani told how he ignored his teaboy who claimed to have the budget papers that were to be presented at the Vidhan Soudha the next day. The Editor thought, if he, with all his high connections, influence and networking, could not make it, how could an errand boy! But because the tea boy nudged him, he tucked those papers into his briefcase and forgot about it. Subsequent to the budget presentation the next day, out of curiosity when he compared, he could not believe his eyes. It was there word by word. Be it relationship, or leadership we need to learn to listen – listen to that inner voice, listen to colleague who shares without ulterior motive.
b. Oiling with love. Anybody used to a two wheeler knows how important it is to invest atleast Rs.100 for servicing regularly, ensuring uninterrupted service. Many of us oil our body, the machine, with resentment; hence many times it does not work, worse it stops. We are called to oil our relationships with love at regular intervals; more so, if we are in the mentoring process – investing on the second generation.
c. Sharing. Sharing God’s faithfulness, things He reveals during our Quiet Time needs to be shared with our family, colleagues and believers. It edifies the body of Christ and also builds the faith of people. It should not be haphazard, but shared with discipline. Often times those associations develop to become accountability partners, resulting as a sounding board. When we do not have such opportunities, we end up as spiritual orphans.
d. Relationships – Horizontal – with others, Vertical – with God. I am sure many of us have seen this quote that adorns many homes. “When you are comfortable with yourself, you will be comfortable with everyone.” We will be comfortable with ourselves only when we are comfortable with God. In the final analysis, one may scale great heights, but in the event of failed relationships one does not savour success. People are always remembered not for the positions held, but for the relationships that were built, nurtured and brought to fruition.
e. Efforts – Greater awareness and understanding of God. Positive thanksgiving together can make us more receptive to God’s power.
God has a two-fold plan for all of us – to be conformed to the image of His Son and to reproduce the life of Christ in others. I used to think, spiritual maturity was to preach without referring to notes, quoting Scriptures from memory, praying for hours and dialogue convincingly. These could be components, but measure of real spiritual maturity is summed up beautifully by Dr. Stanley Jones: “The measure of our spiritual maturity can be and is measured by the breadth and depth of our capacity and willingness for fellowship.”