This past weekend I had the privilege of being a presenter in a seminar on Biblical Counseling that my mentor in the ministry facilitated. I have always enjoyed listening to him teach as well as preach. I have preached in his absence as he was on vacation or at youth camp. Lisa and I led a marriage retreat for his church several years ago. But this was the first time that the two of us actually “shared” the podium. This experience was a high light for me in the ministry. Of course, I would love to have more experiences like this one. It felt good to be along side of him, even though I had one part of a seven part seminar and he had the other six. I felt like I belonged beside him as we ministered together. I have often wondered and prayed why God has not allowed us to be together in the ministry.
I am sure that I am not alone in my thoughts of why God hasn’t allowed me to be with my “teacher” in a more formal way. Maybe you have had those thoughts. Can you imagine with me what the discussion in the tent might look like as Moses was talking to Joshua? Joshua had the privilege of being Moses’ right hand for a while, but I am not sure he was ready to totally go out on his own. As Elisha watched Elijah being taken up by the fiery chariot, do you think he was asking God “couldn’t he just stay a little longer to teach me more?” Maybe as Paul appointed Timothy and Titus to their posts as pastors/elders in their respective cities they either asked Paul or asked God for more time with Paul before he left them by themselves. I am not trying to put myself on the same plain as these Biblical people. I am sharing my thoughts and what God is showing me about each of these situations.
Each man that is mentioned had a specific call from God to lead His people in a specific way. Each man was taught by a teacher, yet each man was different from his teacher. When God places a teacher/mentor in our lives, the purpose is to show us principles on how to serve God. It is not for us to mimic our teacher/mentor. Our gifting is different. Our personalities are different. Our ministry anointing is different. Yet, the principles of serving God are the same. God never expects us to look just like our teachers. He made each one of us unique, yet in His image. Each of us has a specific function in the body of Christ. Not all of us are mouth pieces or ears or eyes. Some of us are feet or hands, while some of us make up the arms and legs. One person might have a ministry of harvesting the crops while someone else has the ministry of watering or fertilizing the crops.
So as I have been contemplating the ideas of my relationship with Bro. Neal today, God has brought me to a couple of conclusions. First and foremost, my relationship with Bro. Neal is a gift from God and has the purposes of encouraging me and teaching me in the principles of serving God with my whole life. I am not supposed to focus on how Bro. Neal serves the Lord; I am supposed to focus on serving the Lord myself.
The second conclusion that God has brought to my mind today is I am to find my unique ministry. Yes, I have been in the ministry for 27 years. I still do not know exactly what my ministry is supposed to look like. Confession is good for the soul, so they say. I confess that I try to fit into where I am. I am not sure that is what God wants me to do. I am learning that God created me to be me. I am not supposed to look like anyone else. I am supposed to look like me.
As I move forward in my ministry, rather I ever get to share the podium again with Bro. Neal or anyone else for that matter, I need to reflect what God is doing in my life; not what He is doing in someone else’s life. Even while I taught Saturday, the differences between Bro. Neal and me were very evident. I am now realizing that I must have confidence in whom God is continually creating me to be. I thank God for the teachers He has placed in my life over the many years. I also thank Him for the new opportunities that He is giving me. Thank you God for Bro. Neal and thank you Bro. Neal for showing me God.