Be in the Room: Billy Graham and the Necessity of Mentors

My heart is torn in a beautiful way.

It’s the only way I know how to describe the state of my soul when someone passes from a limited/partial understanding of Jesus into the absolute fullness of that Hope.

Within me, there is a part of me that mourns the loss of a giant. The other side of my absolutely rejoices that he now experiences the Joy he has so often proclaimed.  I’ve never personally met Reverend Billy Graham nor have I been to one of his crusades. I have watched from afar, admired the beauty of his heart, and been astounded at the power of his message.

It was a few years ago when I saw a fellow minister’s interview with Billy Graham when I sat back and thought to myself: I just want to be in the room with him.

Have you ever thought that of someone? I do all the time. It’s not because I have lists of questions to ask (in which I do). But I want to be in the room with people with years under their belt and experience dripping from their lives. For someone like Billy, I don’t want to really say much other than “thank you.” Other than that, I want just want to be in the room to be “quick to listen and slow to speak.” I just want to catch the heart of who he is.

Sit with Giants
It’s taken me a few years to get some boldness, but as I’ve matured (ish), I’ve realized how much I need to “be in the room” with “giants.” These are people who have both years and experiences I do not possess. Younger, older, in my denomination (fellowship) or outside of the Assemblies of God, it doesn’t matter. Everything God has given me belongs to Him (including my life and calling), so allow myself to be in position to be imparted into is nothing short of stewardship. I am responsible for growing what God has given me in order to be faithful with what He has entrusted me with.

Chase Giants
If I were to be “naked and unashamed,” I have a natural intimidation that comes from insecurities that I’ve battled with my entire life. Early in ministry, I’ve forfeited opportunities with “giants” out of fear or wanting somebody to pursue me.  So, for that moments to happen, I needed to stop waiting for them to chase me. I needed to chase them.

A couple of years ago, I was at a small conference where a pastor was speaking. This guy (IMO) is a giant in pastoral ministry. I’ve heard him speak before at conferences. I remember seeing him on the cover to TIME Magazine. And walking out of the room, I saw him standing checking his messages on his phone. I introduced myself and thanked him for what he imparted into the room of pastors. Then he said it, “Next time you come through my city, let me know and we’ll do coffee.” I felt like the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart as if it say, “When you say that to others, you mean it. Why don’t you think he means it to?”

The old Dave would’ve just said , “Cool. Thanks for offering.” Then I’d go back to my room kicking myself for letting my insecurities get the best of me. But you don’t grow from fear.  My response was, “I’m actually driving through there in a month. Can we do it then?”

Don’t Be Robbed of a “Giant” Opportunity 
That “coffee” meeting fed more into my spirit than most conferences have provided. The bro provided food, coffee, access to staff and his building. I have his cell number to text or call. He invested in me (and others with me) more than I ever expected. And all of that would have been forfeited had I been too prideful of “needing help” or too fearful of asking for help. Pride and fear are keeping our pastors living in a state of having an “image” but no “power.” Competition and comparison has robbed our church leaders of their joy and has sapped them of their passion. The individualistic glory seeking, empire building mindset has distorted what the Kingdom of God stands for. We are His body. And we need each other.

We need mentors and giants. We need spiritual fathers and mothers pouring into us. But stop waiting for a “Paul” to chase a “Timothy” (you). Stop allowing pride and fear disrupt a holy opportunity. A “Paul” might choose a “Timothy” but “Timothy’s” chase “Pauls.” Go after a “giant,” be in the room with them, and whatever is poured into you, “go and do likewise.”

Who do you need to “be in the room” with? Who do you need to set up an appointment with to talk? Get out of your pride and over your insecurity to sit, glean, learn, and grow.

Billy Graham. You are one of these giants I have glean from a far. Much of our world has been touched and transformed directly or indirectly by you. Only heaven will be able to calculate the amount of churches birthed, mission’s fields pioneered, vocations impacted, families restored by the message you offered to all and the hope you planted in hearts.

Thank you for your investment into us and placing the baton in our hands. We will not allow fear and pride to prevent us from being faithful with it.

Blessings on your family.

 

…thanks for letting me ramble…

 

First Wednesday September 2016: 1 and 2 Timothy

Welcome to First Wednesday, September 7, 2016.

Below is a recap of our First Wednesday lesson. We’re challenging everyone to:first-wednesdays

  1. Make a connection with someone.
  2. Give attention to the monthly focus.
  3. Set some personal discipleship next steps.
    • i.e. Read a plan (below), set prayer times, connecting with someone to journey with for the month, journal, etc.

On First Wednesday, we covered the Paul’s three phases of mentoring Timothy. I believe this is the best way for discipleship to take on the communitynature described by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

In order to both mentor and be mentored effectively, it’s important to see how the relationship between Paul and Timothy developed over time. And it happened in THREE PHASES:

  1. Phase One: Parenthood (1 Timothy 1:2)
    • You’re not necessarily looking for someone older than you, but a good mentor is a few miles further down the road in their walk with Jesus than you are.
    • There is more experience seeking and listening to God’s voice in their lives.
  2. Phase Two: Pacesetting (2 Timothy 3:10-11)
    • A “Paul” uses his life to set the pace. He’s not perfect, but his life should be grounded in the Word and should show the character of Christ.
  3. Phase Three: Partnering (Romans 16:21)
    • Timothy has gone from being a son to a student and now to being a colleague and a co-laborer.
Do you have a story to share of what God has been doing in your life? Share it with us!
Do you have a story to share of what God has been doing in your life? CLICK THE IMAGE and share it with us!

Need a reading plan for First Wednesday? Check these out:  

1 and 2 Timothy (5 days)
This simple plan will take you through 1 & 2 Timothy and would be great for individual or group study.

1 & 2 Timothy: Priorities & Principles In Leadership (14 days)
These readings from Scripture Union Peninsular Malaysia are written from the thoughts and insights of Asian writers. Paul lays down the priorities and principles of leadership in the church, and for dealing with practical matters in church life. He emphasizes the personal life and example of the leader, not methods or techniques, with himself as the role-model.

Deeper Into Scripture: 1 Timothy (6 days)
Deeper Into Scripture is a methodology of scripture reading that instructs, encourages and equips people to read God’s Word daily and deeply. We have created a unique four-fold method of bible reading that directs the individual to read a short passage of scripture four times. Each reading is done with a different question, instruction or objective to be considered. This repetitive reading takes us deeply into the Word of God, increases our understanding and draws us closer to Him.

Deeper Into Scripture: 2 Timothy (4 days)
Deeper Into Scripture is a methodology of scripture reading that instructs, encourages and equips people to read God’s Word daily and deeply. We have created a unique four-fold method of bible reading that directs the individual to read a short passage of scripture four times. Each reading is done with a different question, instruction or objective to be considered. This repetitive reading takes us deeply into the Word of God, increases our understanding and draws us closer to Him.

 

Pastor to Pastor: 3 Key Connections and 3 Key Questions

I sincerely love my neighbors, the Chandlers. They are a retired ministry couple that have the sweetest demeanor about them. Whenever I can, I love to look for opportunities to help them. In the winter “try” to assist them with the snow removal on their sidewalk and driveway. I will say last winter, to God be the glory, I NOT ONCE sucked up and destroyed their newspaper with my snow-blower as I did every previous winter. I’m pretty proud of myself. They didn’t have to deal with the snow AND they got to read their local news.

Whenever I have conversations with Rev. Chandler (that’s what I call him), I feel that I continue to cheat myself of wisdom by not talking with him more. He is a fountain of wisdom, joy, and encouragement. There isn’t a time I walk away from him where my checks don’t hurt from smiling so much. I love my neighbors. But being ministers is about the only thing we have in common.

  • He grew up in the South; I grew up in the mid-West. That is to say, our context of our upbringing by location as well as time-frame of society is vastly different. 
  • Our ministry education came from colleges who were steeped in our perspective denominations. So our pastoral training was shaped differently. 
  • We are involved in a different denominations. The way our ministerial “coverings” operate are drastically different.
  • He is African-american and I am not. His perspective on the recent events of our nation have been absolutely fascinating. He has given me a context that is both invaluable and enlightening.
  • Lastly, he and I are in a vastly different season in life. He keeps saying he’s retired, but his schedule would prove that wrong. I’m 40, and I feel like I’ve just begun.

Coming out of my conversation with him, I’m given the simple reminder:

Never stop learning; Never stop growing.

I’m a pastor who loves talking with pastors. And, it seems, I can’t get enough of it. It doesn’t matter what someone’s age is or what church size they lead, I just want to learn and grow. In the presence of other ministers, I’m a sponge.  There are times I ask questions. There are moments I just shut up to watch and listen. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” And, perhaps the reason why there are ministers “dulled” in their passion and practices is because they’ve never (or rarely) positioned themselves to be in the presence of other pieces of iron.

I had ministered that way for a while. I thought ministry was, by nature, lonely. But I soon discovered: Ministry doesn’t have to be lonely. There was iron all around. I needed other pastors. They need me. But I needed to change some mindsets: 

  • I needed to open up my eyes to see the Kingdom is bigger than my denomination and generation.
  • I needed to lower my pride to see my preferences/style wasn’t the only way to reach people.
  • I needed to make an effort to reach out instead of excuses of why I shouldn’t.

My deep passion to be everything that Christ has called me to be has pushed me out of my comfort zone. The Holy Spirit has put such a conviction inside of me that pushes me to cultivate and develop the ministry God has allowed me to serve in. And I recognize that process doesn’t happen in isolation; God designed it to happen in community. 

My mind goes to Ezekiel 47. The prophet is shown a stream flowing from the Temple. And wherever water was able to flow, life was produced. Wherever the water became stagnant, life dissipated.

...Then he led me back along the riverbank. When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows….But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty. Ezekiel 47:7-9; 11 NLT

As a ministers, we have a responsibility to keep a “stream” flowing into our lives as to foster growth. From personal time in the presence of God (which is essential above all others) to reading and gathering information and wisdom, there are a plethora of opportunities to get out of the stagnate and into a “growth-flow.”  You need to keep learning. The people you lead need you to keep growing. And one of the ways I have found to be extremely valuable in doing that is through 3 very key connections each with key question to ask. I also feel, it’s a very biblical model of relationships.

1 – A minister more experienced than yourself. (a Paul)
Question to ask: What would you tell yourself if you were my age?
I never want to stop being a “Timothy” looking to hear from a “Paul.” And my question is to bring the pastor into my context but with through the filter of his/her perspective and experience. I was on a plane ride back from Africa when I asked this question to another minister. Summed up, he said, “I’d tell myself, ‘someone else could have taught that class, led that meeting, and met with that person.’ I’d tell myself, ‘Sunday’s can survive without me.’ David,  you need to be at your child’s ball game and recital. You need to help with homework. You need to date your wife. You need to be by her side.”

2 – A minister similar in age but not necessarily a similar ministry situation. (a Barnabas)
Question to ask: What are you learning right now?
The context of a generation can create a deep relational connection. And it’s from this frame of reference where we should be fantastic encourager (a Barnabas) to each other. And my favorite question to ask to those of my generation is both an inquiry and a challenge. You should be learning something because we never stop growing. The question doesn’t depend upon the size, location, or style of ministry. It’s to hear about what the Holy Spirit is doing in others. It challenges me. It encourages me. And I hope what I have to share does the same for them. 

3 – A minister who is new/newer to ministry. (a Timothy)
Question to ask: What have you discovered in ministry?
This is actually a question I ask newlyweds (those who’ve been married for 1-2 years) all the time. I feel the newer perspective is absolutely enlightening as well as refreshing. I think well-experienced ministers need this perspective. The fresh outlook, the passion and excitement, the willingness to risk, and the insatiable desire to win the world for Christ shouldn’t be something we look to dampen so that “they can get a dose of reality.” The fire they have should be what challenges our passion and reignites our heart for what propelled us into ministry. 

I’ll say it again: Never stop learning. Never stop growing. But the development of your life and your  ministry cannot happen in isolation. God designed the Kingdom to be worked through in community. 

This week, meet with a Paul. Call up a Barnabas. Sit down for coffee with a Timothy. Ask some questions; let iron sharpen iron.

And let the Kingdom be glorified as you continue to grow. 

Love you pastors. I believe in you because I believe in the One who calls and equips you. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…