First Priority

Without transparent friendships, ministers are dangerously vulnerable

Our world values independence. "Making it on your own" is the "highest achievement," and depending on others is viewed as weakness. That's far from a kingdom mentality.

God, the consummate Being who could run the show alone, valued relationship so highly that apart from the Holy Spirit and Jesus, the Father does nothing—and vice versa. The original picture of ideal interdependence is modeled in the Godhead itself.

As a young believer, some of the earliest teachings I heard were about accountability and being "in covenant." Although some believers have shipwrecked on these concepts through wrongful control, these truths, in balance, are vital.

I wonder how the many leaders who have fallen from grace in the last 10 or 15 years would have fared if had they had a close, wise ear to talk to and a kind heart to glean from, or a small group of covenant peers to offer safe counsel.

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Christian leaders face closer scrutiny than the average person. The Bible warns that those who teach "shall receive a stricter judgment" (James 3:1). We see such judgment daily in the media. We are often open targets to anyone except a just Savior. That's why I believe those in ministry—perhaps more than any other field—desperately need transparent, effective friendships and means of accountability.

God designed us for relationship—first with Him, and then with each other. Our success is exponentiall when paired with each other: If one can put 1,000 to flight; then two can put 10,000 to flight (see Deut. 32:30).

In contrast, the Bible says that "he who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment" (Prov.18:1). We become dangerously vulnerable without healthy and insightful relationships.

Our busy schedules make it hard to maintain close contact with others. But such shared time is not a luxury; it is a necessity and a protection. Whatever time we spend deepening trusted friendships is an investment more precious than riches.

I encourage you to seek safe and open relationships on two levels. The first is for your personal growth, edification and safety. The second is for that of your ministry. Webster's dictionary defines safe as "free from damage or the risk of damage; giving protection, trustworthy, prudent." We can all use that kind of protection!

On a personal level, my close, covenant friendships are irreplaceable. We are charged to "submit ourselves to one another" (Eph. 5:21, NIV). Doing so provides both safeguards and insights we lack alone. I believe accountability is a part of that submission. It means we are open to being called into account, and we are willing to present or defer to others as appropriate for decisions and counsel in our lives.

On a corporate or ministry level, I believe God created the apostolic realm of the fivefold ministry to provide a safe place of corporate submission to best encourage the growth of His church. There is a very clear blueprint of this plan in the New Testament. I believe apostolic alignment is key to healthy growth, direction and provision. Just like the solo person, a "solo church" is dangerously poised.

If these areas need shoring up in your life, seek God and establish these foundations. I'm confident you'll treasure the results.

 


CHÉ AHN is senior pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif. He leads an apostolic network in 36 nations around the world and has written numerous books, including Close Encounters of the Divine Kind. For more information, visit cheahn.org.

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