Friday 1 February 2013

Our heroes are also human

It is wrong to idolise, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater!

It is human nature to idolise - God knew that, and he told us not to do it! Yet there needs to be a balance between idolising the people we admire and showing them the respect they deserve. Though others are not above us (humans are all made equal), we can have a healthy respect for those who have gone before us and done many great things. Many have sacrificed their own wants and desires to serve God in amazing, life giving way. Yet we are not called to worship or idolise these people.

The reason I write this is because I am prone to idol worship in this way. As I stand in their presence, I find myself urging towards worshipping them. A colleague once teased me about this, suggesting that I admired our heroes a bit too much, going glassy eyed and tongue-tied in their presence! Many talk of Loren Cunningham in this way, though I have yet to meet him in person, so haven't had the opportunity to go all weak kneed! Yet not idolising our heroes doesn't mean that we don't hold them in respect and see what they have achieved in life and the anointing that such obedience (often sacrificially) carries. There is an anointing on those who serve Christ in the mission field and yet so often we focus on what they do not who they are. We idolise their obedience and sacrificial service, rather than the God who made them. This leads to an expectation that when they come to a natural turning point of handing over the work that they're doing, they become 'redundant' in the minds of the world. Yet, the anointing does not go from them, if they continue to walk in obedience with what they carry (i.e. by stopping 'works', they do not become passive in their walk with God).

Right now I'm sitting with members of the Africa leadership team for Youth With A Mission. If you look at what they have achieved in their time serving with YWAM (pioneering, maintaining, building, relating) there are many books that could be written. Just the longevity that they carry is so inspiring.

I hope and pray that these heroes of our faith will continue to be long after they complete the projects that they are doing. That way, the new, younger leaders and pioneers can have a stable foundation on which to build the next season of YWAM's work in Africa. The next generation, if they understand the anointing carried by the previous generation, will lean into them and look to see how they display Christ-likeness, giving stability and wisdom. Good leaders don't step down, they step aside, maintaining a presence and a love for what God has called them to do; they stand at the sidelines, cheering others on to achieve higher and better than they did. They coach, love and support; they bless and cherish.

But if they 'disappear' back to their home countries (like has happened many times before), without maintaining contact and good communication, the orphan spirit which exists across YWAM in Africa will be  perpetuated over and over again.

I admire these leaders and they have my vote to stay here, supported by us - the next generation - and being the stability for us to continue to press on towards the higher goal. (Phil. 3:14)

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