The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
“And David shepherded them with integrity of hear, with skilful hands he led them.”
It was one of those messages that you just don’t want to hear from God. No, anything but that. The message was about Moses. He had spent forty years in the desert. It seemed like a complete waste of time. But in the eyes of God who took him there, it was valuable. He had been trained by God through shepherding. The message struck home that God wanted me to learn by shepherding as well. There was only one problem. I really did not want to be a shepherd.
One of the emphases that we have had in the Navigators is the development of leadership. This is rightly taken from an examination of the ministries of both Jesus and Paul. They gave extensive time to developing the leaders who would succeed them. I had however a tendency to take this out of proportion. The development of leadership was my great aim. I saw in this a way of leaving a mark on the world. My life would mean something if I had helped others to take the reigns of leadership. This brought about a leadership style that was aimed primarily at those who could go on to leadership. It was in marked contrast to that of both Paul and Jesus who while devoting considerable time to the development of those who were with them, saw this in terms of their contribution to the mission as a whole, and with an ultimate focus on Jesus. So, Paul writes about Timothy, “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare, for everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” This was exactly my failing. I was looking to my interests, expressed in terms of developing leadership, not those of Jesus who was concerned for the sheep.
There was also in this new direction a challenge to my fears. The shepherd looks after the struggling sheep. I should be caring for the struggling students. Yet when someone slowly disappears from the ministry, I tend to wonder what I have done wrong, rather than, how are they struggling. Thus I feel awkward in hunting them down and helping them. It does not need a great deal of awkwardness and insecurity to keep me from doing what is necessary when I am busy. There are always enough other things to do.
With this message very clearly put to me by God, I began to go out. It was always a struggle, I would much prefer to stay at home and work in a cosy office than get out and see people. It was always much easier for people to come to me. Less time wasted and all that. I discovered as I got out that I began to see a much greater degree of reality in peoples lives as I saw them in their student homes – The type of friends they had, the state of their rooms, the pictures on their walls. Their struggles and their lives became much more a reality. It was really worth doing. There were too many to get around frequently. I aimed at seeing everyone twice a year.
The main discovery I made though was that even those who were drifting off, were encouraged to see me. Even those who had gone off to join other groups, and for whom I could affirm their choices were encouraged. There was not the sense of rejection that I dreaded. In one case I found a finalist who was feeling submerged by work pressure, but was still following God. After spending some time visiting and encouraging him, he turned up on our doorstep a few days later having led a girl to Christ. He wanted help as to how to help her further.