We have learned a lot about ourselves over the last days, weeks, and years as we fought cancer with mom and watched her brave battle. I have learned so much more about being a minister and the needs of families who are struggling. I didn’t learn it in a book or a seminar. I didn’t have to go to San Diego for a conference with Rick Warren or Rob Bell although La Jolla beach has been calling my name for a while now and I wish I could call back. In fact, the people who taught me didn’t go to a conference or a seminar. They were led by the Spirit of God to minister to our family and become partners with us.
I have watched young people come out of college and go to work for law firms or accounting firms with the goal of someday becoming “partner” in the company. A partner is one who is fully vested with the firm sharing equally in the benefits and the responsibilities. It is ownership and it is the pinnacle of success. The church that Paul wrote to in Philippians had become partners with Paul. They were responsible and accountable but most important they were dependable! As I thanked God for the way our congregation held us up I realized that our church has moved into the next phase of relationship as partners.
It is wonderful to have fellow travelers in the journey of life but there is nothing like a partner. It is fun to have encouragers on the road but this is a far cry from those who stop talking and begin to carry your load. The Apostle Paul had so many churches that stood behind him but there was one that would stand with him and he called them “partners.” I have a tremendous understanding of partnership from a legal perspective because I have watched The Good Wife. The joys and riches of becoming partner in the firm are balanced by the pressures of accountability. Many of us would love the title of partner but we don’t want our name on the sign when the bills are due.
The church in Philippi moved from encouragers to partners. We are in that process and it changes everything! I have always been thankful for those that would stand behind me but I’m learning about a new kind of relationship where we find new levels of riches and accountability.
Thank You Holy Spirit for fellow travelers on the journey of life and thank You for partners who see my struggles as their responsibilities.