Why I Love...and Need the Apostolic Ministry: It Provides WisdomSunday, January 09, 2011
Three: The Apostolic Ministry Provides a Lot of Wisdom
I'm always amazed by men who are younger than me, but somehow know more than I do. I'm even more amazed by men who have no children, but know how to parent mine better than I do. There's never a shortage of men who want to give their opinion on something...even though they probably have no idea what they're talking about. Proverbs 18:2 says, "Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions." Verse 13 says, "Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish." Those verses pretty much sum up many men. While there's no shortage of words, there is a great shortage of wisdom.
I've discipled many men and trained many of those for leadership. In the course of those relationships, most of the young men had not yet graduated from being a smart alec. That's the time in a young man's life when he thinks he knows more than his mom and dad. Some don't grow out of it at all. Many do, thankfully. I was one who almost didn't, because I didn't discover until I was around thirty that I actually knew far less than I thought I did. At that point, I was ready to be led.
I remember serving as a full-time youth pastor for a couple of years in an almost-mega church. The Sr. Pastor was my father. And even though he had years of ministry experience, as well as a doctorate, I knew better than him when it came to members of the masonic lodge in our church. "We just need to go and confront 'em and tell 'em that they need to leave the lodge or leave the church! Dadgummit!" "Son, I don't think that's a wise way to handle something like this." "Of course it is, dad!" I was so filled with wisdom in those early days of ministry. And I'm so dumb now.
Then there's the time I was on my biblical counseling high, after having concluded that all psychology is bankrupt and stupid. So I proceeded to set an appointment with the president of my bible college to help him understand why I not only needed to be exempt from the required core psychology class, but that we also did not need to offer that course anymore as a school. So filled with real wisdom, the president kindly listened to me and said he's take it under advisement. I'm glad he didn't. I was such a dork.
I have more stories like this than I can recount here. Suffice it to say I was a bonafide jackass. Thankfully, age has matured me into just a "jack" now. Most of the other is pretty much gone, though I tend to show mine from time to time. And that's because I need someone smarter than me to help me, to guide and disciple me. I need someone who knows more than I do to help me grow more and lead better. That's where the apostolic ministry comes in.
For me, the biblical-apostolic ministry means that the apostolic man I'm relating to has himself been in a relationship of biblical discipleship. He has been mentored and shepherded. His desires to lead were taken, shaped, molded, formed, and released. Someone else invested in him. As his gifts developed and were manifested, it became evident that the fruit he was bearing resembled that of apostolic ministry. So he joined a team of other apostolic men to function in that way. And in that team there are men who are older than the others...men who've been doing apostolic work much longer than the others...men who've planted several more churches...basically, men with more experience in pretty much everything. Imagine a team where everyone was a peer and no one really had that much more experience. That's called a pooling of ignorance.
Now, this apostolic man is a friend of mine. And I am one of his friends. He disciples me. He knows more than me. A lot more. He's at least fifteen years older, has planted three more churches than I have, has been married twice as long as I have, and enjoys the fruits of his faithful parenting with his three believing children and their spouses and children. He has raised up and trained more men for ministry than I have, dealt in spiritual warfare far more times than I, and counseled countless more couples. He has operated in the prophetic, spoken in tongues, and laid hands on far more people than I have. (And this brother has been deer hunting longer than I've been alive...which is a huge help to a guy like me whose harvested one deer in six years.) In short, there is wisdom in this man. And I'm the fool if I neglect or reject it.
The fact that this man is an apostolic man mostly like means that, over a period of time, he has developed both a self-starter mindset about things that need to get done, as well as an accountability mindset with those in authority over him or with him. In other words, he's learned how to get stuff done and answer for it. Men who are self-starters are a dime a dozen, though it seems increasingly hard these days to find them. Men who desire accountability are a goldmine of potential. There is a balance that develops in a man like this, which makes him increasingly stable when it comes to leading and decision-making. I want a stable guy to lead me. Who doesn't? I want a guy who knows how to get stuff done, as well as a guy who knows what it is to be held accountable and to have to answer to others. That's called wisdom. And wisdom comes from a stable, apostolic leader.
Wisdom is knowing the difference between doing the right thing and doing it in the right way, between knowing what to say and knowing how and when to say it. Wisdom is knowing when to put pressure on someone and when to release it. Wisdom is knowing how fast or slow to move in helping someone to change and grow. It is always willing and ready to learn, never believing that it has gathered enough information to make an eternal, dogmatic conclusion. It always asks questions, and only assumes when experience has proven those assumptions valid...and there's almost always exceptions as any honest man will tell you.
The apostolic man I relate to evidences these things. And that's why I enjoy my relationship and friendship with him. He truly cares about me, and not just about telling me what to do. He loves Jesus more than he loves me, or anyone else for that matter. But he loves Jesus by loving me and everyone else. He loves me enough to tell me what I need to hear, and in a way that ensures I will want to hear it and actually do it. He speaks into my marriage as a church leader, and challenges where I need it, corrects as I need it, and affirms where I need it. He does the same thing for my parenting also. And I'm finding something strange but wonderful. The more I listen, the smarter I get! And that's really awesome for a guy like me whose mom referred to growing up as a "meat head" with peanut butter for brains! Thank God for apostolic leadership!