Given the rather public nature of my life, it likely doesn’t surprise many of you that on a regular basis I am privileged to be asked by others if I can “meet” or “give them some time” so I can “process life” or “share some insight into a tough situation”. The request isn’t always worded the same but the idea is: Time alone with me (or any other perceived wise counselor) is going to be the best way to gain insight/understanding.
While I am always encouraged that there is something in my life, leadership, person, or position that makes the prospect of both getting with me and hearing from me seemingly beneficial, I have always been slow to say yes to such requests. This is not be because I don’t think I have something to offer, nor is it because I don’t genuinely enjoy the opportunity to love and help the person(s) making the request. Rather, it is because there is something more important that I am called to do than please myself or respond in a way that is pleasing to the person asking. I am called to make disciples. I am called to shepherd well the flock of God among me (1 Peter 5:2), and I learned a long time ago that the best way to do both of these, without both exasperating others and exhausting myself, is to make sure that others are involved from the beginning.
We talk a lot about community at Watermark (because the Scriptures talk A LOT about community). God has given us community to bear each others burdens, speak truth to one another, and care for one another. There are plenty of times we all feel inadequate when confronted with the breadth and/or depth of the problems, despair, and complex issues presented to us, and in our “expert culture” world we all want to get to the best and brightest ASAP. But this model can neither be supported with Scripture nor does it lend itself to either the best care or the best way to make disciples.
See the response below that I once sent to someone asking for my insight into a particular passage of Scripture and consider using something similar in your own life. I think you’ll find more people will be genuinely helped, more time will be wisely stewarded, and more of the saints around you will be powerfully equipped. Responding this way has always resulted in others seeing how sufficient Christ in community already is OR has always led to my time/counsel being multiplied, effective and useful in the lives of the person originally making the request. That’s a WIN WIN WIN WIN…
Date: April 18, 2007 10:17:28 AM CDT
To: Xxxxxx Xxxxx
Subject: RE: Hey Todd
Xxxxxx…I have sent my answer to my assistant Becky and asked her to hold it until you send me an email with the best answers that your community/shepherds/friends/partners in ministry have come up with as you wrestle with your questions with them. Then, if it is still necessary for me to chime in (because you are all still unsatisfied with what the Lord showed you all as you wrestled with the question/issue/problem together) I will (or whoever can best serve you) meet with all of you and everyone can benefit together.
Wrestling with issues/questions/problems this way is the best because:
1. It allows you to lead/sharpen/grow those you are in life with as you model humility, a thirst for God’s word, and leading in all things.
2. It keeps you (or whoever is seeking answers) from being exasperated because you are “waiting in line” for “Moses to speak”. (Exodus 18)
3. It keeps Moses from being exhausted while trying to answer everyone’s question (Exodus 18).
4. It creates a natural forum for community/discipleship and corporate growth.
So you owe me your the best response from your community/shepherds/friends/partners in ministry (and all the names of the people in your life/community/ministry) and I will then share with all of them my answer. It is done and waiting for you.
Thankful for Jethro,