Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me: Reflections on Co-pastoral Ministry

Here’s the link to a blog I recently wrote about co-pastoral ministry, power, and being a servant. The blog is posted on Shawna Gaines’ blog. Shawna and Tim Gaines serve as co-pastors in California. Their ministry has been helpful to observe and learn from as Becca and I began our ministry together. Grateful for others that are faithfully demonstrating what it looks like to live in community, sharing ministry together!

Link to article: Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me: Reflections on Co-pastoral Ministry

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Flash Fire: Communicating Care

I had arrived back at the church to make sure everything was being set up for the family to arrive.  The family had stayed at the graveside, while I went on ahead.  Shortly after I arrived, one of the ladies helping with the dinner notified me that she had just received a call from Pastor Darrik.  He said they were running behind because they were dealing with a “flash fire.”  It was a particularly windy day and we had had a very dry summer… perfect conditions for a fire.

After hearing the news, I mentioned the situation to a man that went to our church and was law enforcement.  He jumped up and told me to come along.  We hopped in his cruiser and sped through town.  We weren’t just cruising… we were flying!  I had never experienced adrenaline on this level before.  We made it to the scene in record time.  As we drew close, however, we noticed an absence of smoke… we noticed a total absence of anything resembling fire.

About that time my cell phone rang.  When I picked it up, the lady from the church that had notified me about the “flash fire” said, “Levi, you can turn around and come back.”  I was definitely puzzled.  I asked her what was going on.  She bashfully announced that it had not been a “flash fire” but a “flat tire.”  It seems the wind had made pastor’s words hard to understand!

Communicating clearly can be difficult, even in the best of circumstances.  There are plenty of hindrances and roadblocks that shut down clear communication.  It is true when we are communicating with friends, family, or God.  Not being able to clearly hear the messages we need to can dramatically impact where we end up.  It can be the difference between “flash fire” and “flat tire!”

There are many note-worthy situations that can hinder our ability to hear others.  We each have our own shortcomings that often render us unable to truly sit and listen.  It might be busyness.  Tasks, rather than relationships, can take top priority.  It might possibly be riches.  Our material possessions consume us to the point of neglecting others.  Or, it may even be something like fear.  We are wary of what God may call us to do.  So, rather than risk being uncomfortable in God’s presence, we settle for putting God on hold and not really listening.

Vibrant relationships are difficult, if not impossible, to maintain without the willingness to pay attention, to hear, and to acknowledge the message someone is trying to tell us.  Communication is not only a verbal process.  Listening involves “hearing” what others are telling us through their body language, actions, language, and attitude.  Sometimes we are so quick to tell others how to fix things; we neglect to listen to their stories and to understand who they are.

One of the greatest pieces of sage advice I have ever received states: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Communicating the Gospel is not merely conveying information; it is about caring for the needs of the broken and hopeless.  God sees, hears, and knows the suffering that people endure.  Christ entered into that very suffering with us.  As followers of Christ, we are called to suffer with others.  Let us be those that “hear” the cry of those that are destitute and serve them as Christ has served us!

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