Dear Staff Friends,
The missions pastor of a supporting church of ours summarized his frustration with missionaries by telling me, “We want to partner with you, but we feel like an ATM.” Wow! This comment made me consider whether I view my interaction with ministry partners as a transaction rather than a relationship.
In this season of giving thanks to God for all His blessings and provision, I’ve been reminded again of the privilege of partnership Lynn and I feel for those who stand with us in our ministry. Paul’s relationship with the Philippians has touched me deeply as he describes his friends as both partners and partakers.
What did Paul receive from them? Paul doesn’t view the Philippians as simply a source of “venture capital” as he turns his attention to other places in the Roman Empire; they have a deep relationship. He states the genuine love he feels for them in chapter one verses three and following. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.”
Do I view my partners with anything close to Paul’s depth of feeling?
What did the Philippians receive from Paul? The Philippians have clearly blessed Paul, but they been blessed by him as well. Verse seven continues: “…for you are all partakers with me of grace” (emphasis added).
Do I see our partners as genuinely sharing in our ministry? When I communicate with them, do I convey that their “investment” in us is paying dividends?
Surely I’m reading too much into this passage, since it is clearly talking about their partnership in the gospel and doesn’t mention money, right? Not according to chapter four! “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit” (Phil. 4:15-17). Notice he mentions giving and receiving in verse 15. Their partnership is a two-way street.
God has continually challenged me to genuinely value our giving friends as true partners and partakers in our ministry. And with this view of partnership, two questions arise:
Why wouldn’t I want more people like this on our team?
Why wouldn’t someone want to join a team like this?
Let’s do all we can to love, honor, and value the people God has given us as partners and partakers in ministry.
Contact Roger via email at email@example.com.