Daily D – 2 Corinthians 1:24
2 Cor. 1:24 But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm. (NLT). 2 CORINTHIANS 1:24 (NLT)
We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.
The last three days have been spent with a group of prospective church starters. These mostly young men and their wives are full of ideas and ideals. Some want to do new things few have done before them. Others want to have their hands held a little longer. One did not want to start a church, but to start a community service that incubates churches.
Getting to know these men and women was a delight. We enjoyed rich conversations, much laughter, and a few knowing tears.
It is a reality of the aging process and having been there and done that, that those of us serving as assessors could spot some growth areas and foresee some challenges. The temptation at such times is to default to prescriptive remedies. The necessity instead is to describe best practices and to invite the learners along the journey toward maturity and competence.
The Apostle Paul provides a good model. He did not dominate the church he started in Corinth. If you read 1 and 2 Corinthians, you see they were the Gifted and Talented church. Along with those gifts and talents came problems aplenty. Paul could have put on his bossy pants and forced them to do the right thing. Instead, he allowed them room to grow and develop under God’s leadership as they discovered the consequences of their tolerances.
The Message states this especially well. “We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical.” One young church starter has an idea he said, “No one has ever tried before.” We discussed the possibility that since he is the only one who has ever thought of it, it might be wrong. He laughingly admitted the possibility. He also wants to give it a try while staying open to necessary adjustments along the way. We offered our full support.
Paul said, “We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.” Each person will stand on his or her own decisions before God and not on my instructions to them. I may be right. I may be wrong. If a person is seeking God with all of his or her heart and following him the best he or she knows how to do, the best I can do is offer guidance. The worst I can do is force them to do what I would do or what some longstanding best practice is.
Hesitate to dominate. Expedite illumination. Sometimes, if not most times, the best lessons are learned looking back. This is why quarterly and annual goals and plans are so important. They give us something to lean into by faith and to step back from with experience. They help us adjust as we gain wisdom and knowledge born of real-world actions.
I will allow others to follow God at their pace, not mine.
Our Father, deliver me from the need to boss others around. Empower me to guide with wise silence and gentle nudges. I trust you have a path for others as surely as you have had a path for me. You are better at guiding them than I ever could be. Give me listening ears and supportive words. Give them fierce determination and gentle resolution. Make us partners in the great adventure of following you off the maps so that those who come behind us may have charts and courageous examples for where you lead even when we don’t know it all. Amen.
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Jeremiah 35:12-14 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.”
Psalm 78:70-72 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
Jeremiah 23:20-22 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.