Nothing Else Matters So Sweetly As Equipping!
THIS afternoon, the church board reported back to me that Dale had done it all. He told lies about me to kick me out. Lois Carma, one of those who worked with him in this filed an allegation against me that they had caught me in the act of adultery, redhanded. Photos of me beside a redhaired Filipino was presented to the board and they believed this for months but just few had the truth in them: Dale and Lois had computed all of these with any other picture due to jealousy or perhaps, I knew part of their secrets which even the other senior pastors hadn’t known. It was that way until I received a letter from them, inviting me to return as pastor. In one sense, it sounded good, and in another sense, I didn’t appreciate it: I really needed to solve the problem of my emptiness before anything about ministry. God had to prepare me first!
Now I was longing to make a choice, and such could change my circumstances forever, either to make it worse or better. So I drove to the coffee shop to have sometime to think what choice to make. That’s when I felt a hug around my neck. Closing my eyes with both hands so I wouldn’t recognize him. Who can this be? I thought. It can’t be Diane since she had taken the kids to school.
As fast as I could, I said, “Let me guess! Oliver. . . Am I right?”
And he had my eyes free from his hands. “Yeah, it’s me,” he replied. “I saw you walk through the shop doors and really had to check on you. You don’t seem so happy. Is all well at home?” He asked, sitting on the chair at the side of the diner. He began to figure out what it was.
“Yeah, all is well at home. Everyone’s doing great! How’re you today?” I was trying to prevent him from finding out anything about what the board had requested.
“That doesn’t sound good. . . What’re you trying to hide, Bob?” He didn’t answer my question. He had found out something and I wasn’t sure how he knew.
“A long story, Oliver,” I confessed. “The board had discovered the truth and apologized for what Dale and Lois had done. I’m in thoughts, Oliver. Don’t know what to do!”
“What really had they said?”
“Both had filed an allegation against me just to kick me out. Lies had spread that I had committed adultery with a Filipino. I bet, Oliver, I was amazed to see those photos myself.”
“Why should Dale engage himself in such?” Oliver asked, desperately.
“Well, you know Dale and me had been friends for years now and he knows most secrets about me and I know even more about him. However, I stopped being too open to him when I found out he wasn’t after anything else but my shame. He needed me off the stage. Today, thesame who kicked me out are asking me to be pastor of the institution. Certainly, I don’t see how possible that is. . .”
“Which means you aren’t going to return as pastor?”
“I don’t see how, Oliver. I don’t see how. . . I still have got much to learn; frustrating things to deal with inside of me and I guess without having those things handled carefully, things won’t be so easy,” I explained as he looked straight at me.
“What’s frustrating you, Bob?” He asked. “The pastoring job? Dale? Lois?”
“Certainly not,” I replied. “It’s not those at all. . . I just need to first deal with my emptiness. That’s all!”
“I ‘uld say that’s a wise choice, Bob,” he commented. “We need solid equipping before any talk of ministry.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “And I don’t know if I’m ever going to have that job done. Something doesn’t want me there. I need to first grow in Christ and experience some changes in this place,” I said, touching my chest, “before talking about ministry.”
“Absolutely, Bob,” he laughed. “Today, we’re more concerned about things he promised he would add to us: finance, job, and many more but these don’t tell how mature we’re. When we notice a dirt get stain our white dress, we need to quickly wash first, then we can freely help others.”
“Well, Oliver, would you say Dave and Lois are mature?”
“Sorry, what do I gain judging others?” He asked, without any answer to my question. “You just need to know that you know mature ones through the life they live in him. They live just the way he did while he walked the earth. Those who ain’t mature ‘ll always be those who’re caught in gossips, quarrels and even the struggle for religious power, just to satisfy their ego.”
“Really, Oliver, I’ll say I’ve met some milk believers who live just like Jesus lived. Does that tell they’re mature?”
“I won’t say it does, Bob,” he replied. “They aren’t milky ones at all. The reality about this journey is that those ready to grow ‘ll always be found following Jesus closely. They mayn’t be mature but they won’t depend on the teachings of men alone. The way a believer can grow is when he’s following Jesus closely no matter what he goes through.”
“Even if he isn’t an attendee? How then will he grow?” I asked, putting down the bag I had been carrying.
“He surely ‘ll, Bob,” he answered. “The religious collaborations which we term ‘church’ today isn’t the only place to equip people. We can admit that it’s rare before you find one that do, and if it tries to, it won’t last.”
“The reason is religious obligations oft get in, and the detonation process begins. That process can have them live mechanical, and even away from the life they are called to live.”
“Is that what I had been doing years back?” I was waiting to hear him say it’s not true.
“Measure it for once and see, Bob if those times you had yourself in the mechanical thing was satisfying. Sometimes, you get home frustrated. Other times, the happiness and joy you get doesn’t come from the life he’s called you to live but from those approvals you oft get to have you fit in.”
I paused a while. Oliver said nothing. He waited me out so I may go through what he had said again. He’s right! I’ve done that not just years ago but months back. I tried every way possible to make people love me. Those who refused to were oft avoided by me.
“You’re right,” I continued, “Then is there any other way, any place we can equip people, apart from these organized system?”
“In many ways, Bob,” he replied. “What’re we doing now? I’m helping you understand what it takes to be his church, living to face life as he opens ways for it. Equipping is that way! A mature servant-leader equips people in homes, attics and anywhere God opens for them. It’s not compulsory that these structures be constructed before you’re aware you’ve ministered.
“You don’t know how joyful I am to help you in this journey.”
Whew! I haven’t thought that through, I thought. I had been on this without knowing?
“I don’t see how I’m going to take that job, Oliver,” I sniggered. “Equipping is for a certain time depending on when God chooses. However, I’ve got a problem with that institution!” I confessed.
He pressed closer to see what I meant. . .
“That you don’t have the chance to freely equip others?” He asked with a raised brow.
“I don’t think that’s it,” I replied. “In these institutions, thesame people are taught forever. Most aren’t satisfied with what they find in one institution, and become church hoppers just to find the best principles like I wanted to.
“That’s what happened when Wyle, our senior staff arrived several institutions. He had told us the first wasn’t caring enough about their members. The next were trying to survive. Another was only concerned on repairing the structure and increase the size. Several others were demanding tithe more than he expected. To him it was like bribe. Now, he’s planning to leave our church.”
“Wyle said the people weren’t caring enough and the ministers seem to exploit the people who follow them. He finally said it can’t be the church Jesus is building.”
“Sounds like a tough story to me,” he commented. “Wyle discovered it, Bob. Such system is always very destructive. Institutional religion often breed more renegades who don’t have a passion for more of Father’s life. Once an unbeliever believes, he must be equipped to live that life, so he may go to also equip others. The servant leader equips him for some time depending on the growth of the one equipped. It’s that way, Bob. Such a person is growing to learn from Jesus directly in close fellowship, as he also equip others to live the life of Christ.”
“Should that mean servant leaders produce servant leaders?”
“What Jesus instructed his disciples to do was to disciple men of all nations. Look at most things they wrote. It was to encourage these believers to become Christians who live his life.”
“Do you mean what you just said?” I asked, not sure if he understood what I had said. “So being a believer is different from being a Christian?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “Not all believers are Christians, Bob. Many may believe that Jesus is God’s Son but they aren’t Christ-like. They claim to be but if they don’t obey him and follow him closely, they aren’t. They’re mere believers on the name of Christ. Even Satan believes that Jesus is God’s Son. Therefore, he believes too. We can only be christians if we live as Jesus did.”
“I never thought of that,” I confessed. “If Satan is a believer, why isn’t he saved?”
Hearing my question, he laughed as hard as I had ever thought. “Was that funny?”
“Yes it was,” he replied. “Salvation can only be made possible for anyone when they’re here on earth. Satan isn’t on earth in human body. Those who are dead and are in hell begin to believe Jesus is Father’s Son but the chance is no more.”
“Okay, I get. Oliver, how do you get them to know you’re an equipper?” I questioned. “Don’t we need billboards or posters?”
“None,” he said. “We don’t need any. Jesus didn’t call us to advertise. Remember, we met each other without a billboard or poster but through an already planned meeting which God had promised he will. What really drew people to Jesus, John the Baptist, and the apostles? Was it their props and devices? Was their preaching ability the reason? Or did they construct mansions for limiting the truth about Jesus? Of course not! Peter was a mere fisherman whom Christ equipped for his Father’s work. The other disciples were just ordinary men. It wasn’t anything else that drew people to hear them but the Anointing. Just as those institutions aren’t needed, so those modes of advertisements aren’t necessary.”
“But most people mistake that anointing for something else,” I said, spreading both arms.
“Just because people misunderstand the Anointing doesn’t mean the truth is no more. The Anointing is the spirit and he’s the one who draw people so we can help them. Try fixing billboards or posters, you’ll find yourself unknowingly setting-up an institution. It attracts crowds, and the life of the journey can’t be fully shared in large organized meetings.”
“Sounds great, Oliver!” I exclaimed. “How do you know that the equipping process is over for someone?”
“How do you mean?”
“I mean, how do you know when to stop equipping someone?”
“Bob, you can find that through the Lord’s guidance as you are sensitive to changes in the person’s life: some incredible growth that he’s getting mature spiritually.”
“Then you ‘abandon’ them?”
“I don’t think the word is ‘abandon’, Bob,” he said. “I’ve equipped hundreds of people in the last forty years and I still meet many of them. Since I’ve equipped them, I don’t need to keep teaching them again and again but keep encouraging them. I often go visit them just to spend time with them. However, that may be rare sometimes.”
“Isn’t that religion?”
“Religion? How? Where?” He asked these questions with several gestures.
“I was just pointing out what most people told me about religion. Meeting others to share the life with them, encouraging them on the journey is all about religion. . . I know it isn’t true.”
“How can it be true?” Oliver asked. “Religion isn’t what we think it is, Bob. It’s trying to serve God mechanically, trusting our abilities rather than his, to get us to him. It makes people think that the further they do, the more God stays with them and if they don’t, he won’t. It defies the very nature of God and fills people with dread in approaching him. It makes people depend on others rather than depending on Jesus. It’s based on man’s efforts. . . It survives through our religious obligations and thinkings. Meeting others on the journey isn’t religion. We meet to encourage each other. However, it gets twisted when we meet to depend on each other, instead of helping each other grow to trust in him.”
My mind began to repeat those words and I was much more aware that God was rearranging my views. Silence hung about the place for almost ten minutes. Then he raised his head, inquiring,
“How’s Diane? And the kids?”
“No much of ‘how’ to talk about. They’re doing great. They’re also feeling the pain of being looked upon as the ‘odd ones’.”
“Why is that?”
“You know it’s due to the fact that we aint attendees anymore.”
“And Dr. Fletcher? Have you gotten in touch with him lately?”
“I haven’t met Fletcher for a long time now. Hoping to see him again. Donna Woolf travelled to New Zealand after we met last Saturday evening. She’s got so many people to help on this journey.”
“Hm! She’s really mature to help others.”
“Yeah, and why do you say that?”
“Every reason, Bobby,” he replied. “Her honesty and love has won the hearts of many.”
“She said she had known you for over eighteen years, and that you’re the one who helped her on her journey. Is that true?”
“Uh-oh! Yeah, it’s true.”
“Should that be what you meant by meeting them once a while?”
“Yes, I meet them just to find out how they are doing and encourage them to keep following Jesus daily, no matter all they go through. Many I had met years before I met you have their attention away from what they might get from Father. They just want to know him better.”
“I wish to follow Jesus that way, irrespective of my circumstances,” I confessed, as I stood up with him, heading toward the coffee seller. “But I’m still sorting it out!”
“Just follow him as best as he leads you. We can’t sort these things in a single day. Learning process is continuous as long as we’ve got life as the classroom.”
As we headed for the doors, Oliver concluded playfully, “If you try return to your selfish, religious thinking, you may end up like that dog over there.” He pointed toward the animal at the far end.
“That’ll make me look like an idiot!” I said, laughing, as we walked out together.
I had given off the thought of the pastoring job, willing to find out God’s plans for me.
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