Dignify and Deploy 18: Every Member a Player
‘I realized that I could either get a tent and have a great ministry or empower and equip and release the Body of Christ to do it themselves. I chose the latter as it was Jesus’ model.’ John Wimber
Stuck in cycles of sin and shame, Jim (a small group member) teetered on despair. We prayed but I had no lead. Another member with much to overcome voiced a picture he received. It conveyed the depth of his brother’s affliction but also a way to fight. He offered it. Breakthrough.
Wimber would have smiled. He insisted we reproduce ourselves in ministry. This he lived. Rather than control the work, he coordinated the Spirit’s action in a host of workers. This value of pouring into others then entrusting them to quench the thirsty became mine. He advocated for Desert Stream/Living Waters because he knew that we, like himself, lived to ‘equip the saints to do the work of the ministry so that the body of Christ might be built up’ (Eph. 4:12).
That’s why Desert Stream Ministries is not mostly about me: my book, my podium, my point-of-view, my leathery mug. I’m only doing my job if you are better prepared to dig a deep well of Living Water. Where you live and worship! All of us have a part to play in preparing a people for Jesus.
That’s why we love the Church. We don’t blame her for the gaps. We pray: ‘Lord, equip and release me to stand in that gap.’ This work is too delicate and profound for faraway superstars, legends in our childish minds. We must grow up into Christ ourselves. Wimber insisted on it. So do we at Desert Stream Ministries.
We repent. Most of us have tolerated and contributed to the cult of the ‘chosen one’ with the copyright on a spiritual gift. Starry-eyed, we stand in line and hope for a touch, a glance, a word from the holy one. Instead of unlocking our future, such idolatry binds us to a childish reliance on ‘Wizard of Oz’--like figures. Before them, we never grow up into our fullness. We remain sycophants who dodge the hard work of listening for ourselves and others.
We need leaders who lead us to discover our gifts, our place, to discern when and how we are best to give our offering and so grow into our Head (Eph. 4:15).
Karol Wojtyla was one such leader. That was evident in the communities he developed as a young priest and the laity he deployed to run them. It was evident during Vatican II in the early sixties, when all the Church’s bishops gathered ‘to open the Church’s windows to the modern world.’ For Karol, who attended every session, this window let in the Spirit who established His ‘seminary’ among those gathered to discern the way forward.
Central to that path for Wojtyla: Holy Spirit awakening every baptized Christian to take their places in the Church and from there to extend Jesus’ reign to the world. While not degrading the function of priest or religious, he upgraded the laity and insisted on mutual submission between sheep and shepherd as to grow together to fulfill the Great Commission.
‘The laity are responsible for the social realization and continuation of the mystery of the Incarnation.’ Karol Wojtyla (Witness to Hope, p. 111)
“Jesus, thank You for our leaders; forgive us for making them extensions of our childish needs and wishes. Grow us up into Your leadership so we can build Your Church, even as we are built up by the good imperfect gifts around us.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”