In 1992, Kevin Costner starred with Whitney Houston in the romantic thriller The Bodyguard. Costner plays a former CIA agent who is hired to protect the entertainer.
Of course, Sweet doesn't argue for a Costner in your life, but someone very similar is important. Sweet's example is that of Deborah. Deborah watches the back of General Barak (See Judges 4-5).
Sweet points out that anyone "on mission for good and God, will be the first to be fired on by enemies and by friends. It doesn't matter how good you are; you're going to get criticism, and it usually comes via the back door. If you recall, it was the religious establishment that told Jesus his healing was the work of the Devil" (p 136-137).
How many people have become homebodies on corporate worship days claiming they're tired of being "stabbed in the back"? My experience: too many! If Satan can cause a division in what God is attempting to do through a local body of believers, he's won the battle. And sadly, because too many of us don't have Deborahs or Costners in our lives, the knife causes major damage.
When you consider the importance of a bodyguard for anyone, how much more important is it for those who shepherd a local church? Sweet argues, "In the Bible, Deborah covered Barak's back so he could fight (the enemies); unfortunately, Deborahs today often cover your back so you can fend off the armies of the churches" (p 139).
There are times where a bodyguard fights alongside you. There are other times where they're elsewhere in the battle. Costners and Deborahs have an uncanny ability to sense where the next agression will come.
Everyone of us needs a bodyguard - one who is not afraid of the battle and will fight to the death defending us. Who guards your back? Who's back are you watching? Is it time to find a Costner? time to be a Deborah?
Sweet's invitation for a Peter/Paul (mentor/coach) is number six in his book and our review. It's interesting that the next message at our church (a series scheduled months ago) just happens to be about community. In other words, try as we may to live our lives in an individualistic way, it's impossible to live up to our capabilities without someone mentoring us, coaching us, or as Sweet maintains "is our Yoda."
To be honest, this is one relationship in which I've really struggled throughout life. Finding a mentor/coach for spiritual things is tough - really tough! Again, it takes time, a tremendous effort, and sacrificial giving from both persons.
Just a few years prior to his death, my spiritual mentor would have been my Father. Although we didn't get along while I was growing up (too much alike I guess), I came to realize he possessed some great spiritual characteristics. Since his death, my Yoda has been uh...shall I say non-existent.
Please don't get me wrong, I've looked up to friends, profs, and people of faith. But to have a mentor, a coach, a yoda that could help me be that person God would want me to be, it just hasn't happened. You see, I think of a mentor as being one who knows your "ins and outs", your strengths and weaknesses, and still loves you. Much like your "Barnabas," your Peter/Paul encourages but is also willing to look you in the face and say, "You're wrong man! This is what I've learned. etc." I believe those relationships to be few and far between for many. It's even tougher for someone in ministry. Most laypersons are for some reason intimidated by spiritual disscussion with a minister.
I'm looking for a Yoda. I really need a Peter or a Paul. I sincerely want to be the person Christ has destined for me. That won't happen without this important relationship.
How about you? Are you a spiritual mentor for someone? Are you being mentored? Honestly?
John the Baptist states, "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30 NRSV).
John sounds extremely humble. I can't count how many times in my life I've prayed the same. "Lord take me out of the way...God remove me...Not my will, but yours"
I deeply want to be a person of humility. I want to have the same attitude of Christ (consider Phil. 2). But deep down in my flesh, I enjoy recognition. There are times that I like being seen. I can almost rationalize being known by others.
The Apostle Paul said, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1 NRSV). It's as if he's asking for the limelight with humility. Herein lies the "rub".
Believing that we were created to glorify God in every aspect of life, what's the balance between humility and recognition?
Everyone needs encouragement from time to time. When times get tough, when the challenges appear to be insurmountable, when everyone else has given up on you, that's when your Barnabas shines.
A Barnabas seems to show up at the right time, say the right things, and help in the right way. He or she is one of our biggest cheerleaders. Most people focus on our faults. But our Barnabas always sees our strengths, while knowing we're not perfect.
My recent move in ministry caused me to leave behind a dear lady - a Barnabas. She always had something encouraging to say. When times were challenging, she reminded me of those things being temporal. She took time out of her life to make a phone call, to write a note, to remember special anniversaries, to encourage. Although I've had many people in my life be a Barnabas, she takes the cake for encouragement.
It's interesting that her life wasn't trouble free. On the contrary, it was filled with challenges in losing loved ones, aches and pains, and other hurdles life sent. In spite of all the challenges, she was known for "Oh boy, oh boy, let's talk about joy!" Sure it was a little corny but the statement describes her life.
We all need a Barnabas in life. For me, that's Gladys Mott. Thanks Barnabas!
I struggled with whether to post this morning or not. Yesterday, the discussion was on the relationship of a protege or a Timothy. However, near the end of the chapter, Sweet speaks of creativity and left-brained activity more than an indispensible relationship. It's as if he's allowed his focus to become the emerging movement, rather than relationships. Here's the main reason I struggle.
I'm really enjoying the book. And several of you have said you'll read the book at a later time. That said, I think it's important that you understand this stuff is in there as well. I don't intend, nor am I qualified, to give an extensive book review (other than to say I've enjoyed it). I have nothing against the emerging movement. In fact, I appreciate many of their core beliefs. But to discuss the creativity of IKEA, the imagination of a Xbox 360, etc. is better left for another book. Let's get on with the indispensible relationships.
If you'd anticipated young Timothy among the relationships Sweet says is essential, you'd have been right. Relationship #4 is that of a protege. Sweet begins with a quote from one of his own mentors. "A healthy sycamore tree is a tree with heirs...a sycamore community with trees in various stages of growth and development...Always look for a trees successors before you judge its health and vitality." (p 79)
A Timothy is one who follows in the footsteps of those who have gone before. Jesus gives us a mission of making disciples. It's pretty clear that the church is to replicate itself. And leaders in the church should also replicate themseleves, their gifts, and their knowledge, for the common good of the Church. Sadly, this rarely happens. In fact, Sweet maintains "...most Timothys want to be clones, not heirs" (82). I would add that many churches want clones of their leaders, rather than heirs for future generations.
Timothys should be allowed to take a song that once worked and create a guitar riff, add a drum roll, or create space for a saxaphone solo. It's a song they learned from mentors. But because of the modifications, it becomes their song. How many times do we hear in the church, "But we've never done it THAT way"? I would say we've heard it much more than once or twice.
A Timothy knows how important it is to listen. Jesus says over and over again, "Let those with ears hear." Having an ear drum vibrate doesn't always equate to hearing. Not everyone can be a Timothy. A Timothy has healthy ears.
It's important to note that to have a Timothy - to leave your legacy to another - is to recognize you've been a Timothy yourself.
What are your thoughts on the Protege relationship? Is their someone you've taken the baton from? Someone you're influencing so that eventually you'll be able to pass the baton to them?
"If you want a life of peace and quiet, then don't follow Jesus." Sweet, 62
Jethro kicked Moses out of his comfort zone and got him on track to follow God's mission. A vital relationship in my life is a Jethro. My Jethro sees the potential in me and is unwilling to allow me to just "coast" through life. As Sweet would say, "He's my spiritual butt-kicker."
Recently, our local church has been challenged about being intentional in excellence. If Christ gave all, why should we be satisfied with mediocrity, with half-hearted spirituality, with "just going through the motions"?
In our individual lives, we face the same temptations. A Jethro observes potential and then pushes, prods, encourages, or even kicks, for the purpose of helping me be the person God intended. A Jethro knows my spiritual goals, and wants to help me get there. Jethro is not so concerned about flattery as he/she is about growth.
Who is your Jethro? Sadly, many of us aren't so intentional about our spiritual growth that we have a Jethro. Now may be the time for you to find someone who cares enough about you and your future to be your spiritual butt-kicker.
I don't think I'm so different than most. I'm hard-headed, at times prideful, and pretty comfortable with individuality - especially when it comes to something as important as spiritual growth. That's why being intentional about a Jethro is so important.
I'm a big believer in what I would call "restorative theology." There may be another or a better name for it, but let me explain just a bit. I believe that when mankind sinned in the Garden of Eden, causing chaos to reign, God began a plan to restore all of creation to the way it was intended (cf. Genesis 1 and 2). That "plays out" in the Old Testament Law, the incarnation, Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, and the opportunity we have for life. I also believe restoration has to happen between God and mankind, and man to man.
Here's the "fodder." When we speak of restoration between man and man, when does ministry (restorative ministry) end and socialism begin? I know what I believe. It's now your turn.
Philosopher Cicero is quoted as saying "A true friend is, so to speak, a second self."
You and I need a Nathan to confront sin in our life. We also need someone in our "corner" - someone who cares about helping us become better people. We need, as Cicero said, a second self. A second self is someone who sees me just the way I am. For King David, his second self was Jonathan.
Jonathan had lived with David through thick and thin, through good times and bad. Jonathan had seen David through depression (consider the laments through Psalms), helping him run for his life, and defending him before Saul. Without Jonathan sacrificing his own life, David would have never become king. He was a true friend.
True friends know your "ins" and "outs." They know your strengths and weaknesses. A true friend knows what makes you tick and what causes chaos in your life. And a true friend doesn't cringe when you do some of the things you do.
Sweet maintains that the reasons we don't have close relationships or Jonathans in our lives is one or more of the following: 1) our ego. In other words, we live in such a competitive society that we always have to be on top, or know the most, or have the most toys. And when our friends begin to do a little better, we get offended (ego) and we choose friendship elsewhere; 2) a lack of intimacy. For most of us (especially men), our relationships are superficial. We talk about weather, politics, or our favorite sports teams. Anything "deeper" is taboo. We've been burned in the past and remembering the pain causes us to live a "safe" life with no chance of being burned again; 3) sacrifice. True friendship (intimacy) takes time and effort. In our society where time = money, true friendship requires sacrifice.
So how about it? Got a Jonathan in your life? Got someone who will be your checks and balances, your second self? If so, consider your blessing. Jonathans are few and far between. If not, are you looking for a Jonathan? Will you pray God will provide that second self?
"And he (Jesus) appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him..." Mark 3:14 (NRSV)
For 3+ years Jesus lived with the boys. He walked with them, talked with them, ate with them, and cried with them. John records Jesus even washing the apostles feet (John 13). "For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you." (John 13:15 NRSV).
We hear many times about the servanthood in this verse. As well we should. But my question is this: Do we simply glance over the relationship Christ has with the 12?
"...be with him" - that's what I want! Happy Friday!
Leonard Sweet begins his "community/relationship" discussion by stating, "Life is a handicap event. We can't get to our destination without the help of others" (19). The premise of the book is based upon those two sentences. Sweet then takes 11 Biblical characters (the 12th being the Holy Spirit) and gives examples of why each of those character traits should be incorporated into our own lives.
The first Biblical example is that of Nathan. Many times we talk about the importance of accountability relationships(see previous posts). Sweet likes to think of Nathan as being an editor rather than an accountability partner. In other words, while one is looking for the wrong in another's life and correcting the wrong (accountability), the other is taking the good in another's life and editing it to be even better (editor).
You remember Nathan. Nathan had a special relationship with King David. He was allowed to say things that others wouldn't have been allowed to think. Nathan was a welcome intruder. "It's an editor's job to get you to ask the question: Is God's name glorified or smeared in my life?" (Sweet 39). The Nathan in your life must ask difficult questions for your own good. The Nathan in your life has the right motive (to help you be all you can be). Again, the difference between accountability and editing is motive. "Christianity quickly becomes Niceianity, and a Nathan doesn't live on Planet Nice, at least when we're around" (41).
Your Nathan may be a donkey (Balam), a fish (Jonah), or your spouse. Your Nathan cares about you. They've got your best interests at heart because you're loved. A Nathan has permission to proclaim "You are the man!" The problem is most of us are island Christians. Most of us are arrogant enough to think we can make it alone. Most of us refuse Nathan's in our lives.
How about you? Who's your Nathan? Who has permission to intrude in your life to edit the good? Who do you allow to tell you like it is? Have you found a Nathan?
When I was in Bible College, one of the books that I really appreciated was Stan Grenz's "Created For Community." Grenz argues theology is part of everyday life. In other words, our worldviews determine how we live our lives, including what we think of ourselves, what we believe about the world in which we live, and how we interact with those around us. If you get a chance, this is a great read.
As you've noticed, I've recently been reading Leonard Sweet's "11". Sweet maintains there are 11 relationships that each of us need in our lives. I'll post about each of the relationships and would be interested in your thoughts.
Perhaps we can learn a litle more about how we are created for relationships.
The third Thursday of November we celebrate the blessings in our lives. It's been a tradition since 1621 when the New England Puritans instituted the feast. Despite recent traditions (Turkey, Ham, Sweet Potatoes, Detroit and Dallas football), Thanksgiving was intended to remind participants of their bountiful blessings. Chances are pretty good that the old hymn "Count Your Blessings" will be sung the Sunday prior or the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
This past week, I've been reminded time and time again of God's blessings. Why is it that we wait until November to remember how good God is? When we truly understand God's love, grace, mercy etc., Thanksgiving happens in June, July, November and every day of our lives.
Man it's good to have family close. For those who don't know, we moved to find the house not ready (plumbing, painting, etc.). It wasn't to the point that we could move in. We've been staying at the in-laws the last few days. Praise God for their graciousness.
The work that's been done at the house is amazing. We've been so blessed to see what the church has done for us. God is good! I'll try to post pics in a few days.