A couple of years ago, Jerry Cook came and spoke at our church. Jerry is one of my ministry heroes. For the last 30-plus years he has been a mentoring presence in my life through his writing and teaching. He has also functioned in this mentoring role to many others throughout the Body of Christ.
When Jerry was with us he also ministered to the pastors and leaders in our region of Southern Oregon. This was a full and abundant time sitting under Jerry’s teaching gift. In between our meetings Jerry had lunch with Jan and me.
At some point in our lunch, I began to process leadership with Jerry. In our conversation, Jerry made a statement that caused me to stop and re-process how I lead and represent God’s Kingdom. Jerry said, “I never took a position that had me representing an organization to pastors. I always wanted to remain on the other side of that line so I could represent pastors to the organization.”
Our lunchtime conversation continued on to other subjects, but part of my mind set up camp around Jerry’s comment about the line. I wanted to personally process Jerry’s comment later so I could glean all the wisdom available from such profound insight.
As I began to think about what Jerry shared, I realized he was not saying that a religious organization is somehow wrong or that those who serve in any official capacity are suspect. What I came away with was the realization that whether we serve in some official capacity or serve in the deepest and distant trenches of ministry, we all serve a higher reality – we serve the King of a Kingdom and His purposes.
Personally, I am honored to serve in an official capacity in the Foursquare Church. I have always danced with the line Jerry described. As I brought Jerry’s comment into my own role, I began to realize this line must be moved beyond all of us and positioned at the feet of Jesus.
The moving of the representational line - beyond all our serving and leading roles - is critical, if trust is going to be experienced in our ranks. If pastors realize that those who serve in leadership positions over them will yield to the higher good of God’s Kingdom – even at the expense of organizational survival – they can begin to trust that leadership at a deeper level. If those who lead understand those in the ranks of ministry also want the higher good of God’s Kingdom, they will not have to be protective of organizational survival at the expense of Kingdom advancement.
The line Jerry talked about was a line about trust. Each of us must discover where that line of trust exists in our own lives and ministry and ask ourselves why it occupies that position. The position of the line of trust can move back and forth throughout the different seasons of Church life depending on the level of our corporate health at a given moment.
Our conversations and relationships can be inhibited based on where our line of trust exists. The farther the line of trust moves away from the feet of Jesus - toward us and between us - the more we will discover our relational dysfunction. As each of us desire to become more relationally healthy, the most noticeable evidence of that health will be the direction in which our line of trust is moving.