Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Spiritual Empowerment

Its far more satisfying to see a though finishing in a major key, so thats where we'll be heading in this second installment on the thoughts of Spiritual Disempowerment and its remedy.

I make no claim to any thought of being the father of Spiritual Empowerment. I believe that this concept is in the very warp and woof of the New Testament, and the mission of the church. Christ's words and deeds drip of this empowerment and can be seen in the sending of the twelve and seventy, Breathing the Holy Spirit on his disciples, and in the Great Commission. The precedent of empowerment continues through the Acts of the Apostles and on through the Epistles. The burning question for now is... How can we who tend God's sheep practice Spiritual Empowerment?

First, we pray. Not in a simple or Pollyann-ish way but full-on intercession for those whom that Almighty has given us stewardship of. We pray that they would grow daily in the love and wisdom of God. We pray for their spiritual wellness that includes a life of prayer, study and meditation on the Godhead. We also pray that WE would be the leaders that God would be as WE live simultaneously Coram Deo and Coram Ecclesia.

We Lead and Model. In our stewardship to those souls charged to us, we must never rule from behind, but rather lead from the front. Saint Paul said it well when he encouraged the Corinthians to "Follow his example, as he followed the example of Christ". Someone else once said simply, "show me, don't tell me". Those being empowered should see a healthy and vibrant model of empowerment in motion. Though it might be an easy temptation to dismiss this as imitation, this very imitation is commended by Paul in his letters to the Ephesians and Thessalonians. This type of imitation is normative and will produce budding fruit in the lives of believers.

We Mentor. Spiritual Empowerment entails an investment of time in the lives of others. I requires us to sit, meet, talk, laugh, cry (sometimes), and pray with folk. This level of granularity gives us a view of their lives where we can discern through observation or listening, specific areas where they may be gifted or in the process of being gifted. With this, we can then begin to guide and direct them in the formation of these gifts.

We free them to both soar, and stink it up. I'll never forget my first sermon. It was on a Sunday morning at Dual Highway Church of God in Hagerstown Maryland. I had studied, prayed, studied and prayed some more leading up to that morning. I was going to preach the sermon that was going to launch the third "Great Awakening". It was going to have the same net effect as Edward's Sinners in the hand of an Angry God. It lasted sixteen minutes long, having the grace of a train wreck and the gravitas of a whoopee cushion. After morning worship, Pastor Al Pickerall said "you'll do better next time".
I've shared this particular story because we've all been there. Every saint has been there and those who follow after us will have been there at some stage of their lives. When this happens, we dust them off, debrief them in the spirit of charity, then point them back to the runway for another go in the pattern. If the saint is gifted in a particular area and faithfully pursuing their gift, they'll grow in that gift and will soar. We do them a horrible disservice with we tie them down under the guise of them "not being ready" to operate in their spiritual gifts.

We Empower because we've been Empowered. Saint Paul's Ephesian Letter paints a spectacular picture of Spiritual Empowerment in motion in its 4th chapter. The saints who have been prepared for spiritual works are set loose. The body grows in unity and spiritual maturity. Its no longer easy prey to the doctrines of devils. The process continues until the body on earth is joined to its head in the heavenlies.

No comments: