13Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17These things I command you, that you love one another.
Once again we must run contrary to common leadership tradition. Once again, we must ago against the grain of characteristics so common to our culture. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read, witnessed or have personally been warned not to get too close to ‘my people.’ “Keep them out of your house,” they’ve said. “Make sure they stay out of your business.” “ Don’t ever let them get too close because then they won’t respect you.”
Surely, I’ve understood the intention of such admonitions. No doubt, there have been ugly incidents of ‘leadership gone wild’ in every camp in this country at some point. However, I’ve never been able to fully swallow the ‘fraternization’ concept taught by many contemporary, Christian leaders. It seems that many of us have leaned more toward strategies from corporate America and the United Stated Marines than taking our cues from scripture. Though there must always be order in every organization to include the church; the question to be raised is who’s order will we subscribe to? Where will we get our concept of ‘order’ from? From Christ; culture or even common experience? Of course, there is business to be handled in the church just like in the world. Of course, there is a huge need for respect of leadership in the body of Christ just as it is in secular society. The question, however, is how is it obtained! Is it forced? Is it coerced? Is it mandated? Is it verbally ordered? Is it manipulated? Is it begged for? Is it bought? Really!!!! How then is it earned? Ahhhh, once again Jesus gives us the key.
One of the keys we see in the ministry of Jesus, who ought to always be our ultimate model is the key of INTIMACY. Jesus, having all power and authority, very seldom had to flex his muscle! Though he could have placed much more emphasis and focus on his reputation and authority, he didn’t. Contrary to Jesus, it is becoming more common that most of us who don’t even come close to being able to tie the Lord’s shoes, tend to take our reputation and view of ourselves a bit over board! Let’s be honest, our mathematical equations seem to be at little off evidenced by the fact that we keep coming up with wrong answers!
Here’s a few questions to think about: What makes us so high and mighty that no one can get close to us? If we are in ministry for the glory of God how do we expect to be an untouchable? How is it that no one in many cases, regardless of who, hardly ever has any access to us at all? Why is it that we say “we don’t trust people” but we want people to think of us so trustworthily? We say we don’t make ‘friendship’ in ‘membership’ because of a violation of what? How right you are, especially since the only way to make friends is to first be one.
It’s interesting to me that the one whom we should all be striving to be like did not separate himself from his inner circle the way that we do. Yes, he had inner circles and a few outer circles too. In fact, we all should; we ought never treat everyone the same. Yet, some of us seem to have no circles at all! Our circles have been reduced to one dot on the board and that dot is us! How dangerous! How ridiculous! How self righteous! How arrogant! How fatal, to attempt to walk this journey out with no one in close proximity for fellowship, harmony , heart to heart relationships but yourself! We’ll never get too far in ministry without the key of intimacy! This is true in ministries of all sizes.
This thing we are in doesn’t work with strangers! It doesn’t work well with folk being kept at a distance. When we do ministry this way, we always lose something in the process. When the recipe changes so does the end result of what it tastes like. Ministry becomes a bitter experience when fellows find no real fellowship; when thirsty souls find no authentic intimacy; when everyone is just a number; just more meat in a seat.
Lord save us from ourselves. We have been hijacked. We have been misled. We’ve lost control of the vehicle. Maybe worst, we are the ones who have control. Help us give it back to you. Help us to take the key of intimacy and use it the way we ought. May we use it in integrity and for your glory. May we use it to build up your people in all of their broken and wounded places. May we no longer be content to think of the souls that you have entrusted to our care as strangers to lead but may we experience new levels of intimacy with those in our circles of influence. May our membership be filled with real friendship. Let there be i