What if someone were replacing you at your job and it was your responsibility to train them, only to discover that they had a different personality and different skill sets - some of which were better than yours? In fact, they’ll probably do a better job than you, even though you have many years experience over them. On top of that, they are younger, more energetic, and better looking. (smile)
Well, that is exactly what is happening to me (except maybe for the "better looking" part... smile Pete!). And to think it was my idea (but really God’s) that this is taking place.
Go to school with me on this. We might learn a thing or two.
Peter Jankowski preaches his first sermon as co-pastor this week at Life Church Buffalo. You should come if you live anywhere nearby. It will be a great day. (Check out our website for times.)
Peter has been in staff meetings now for only two weeks. It’s become quite obvious that this man is loaded and ready to change the world. What I mean by this is:
1). He is loaded and ready in his heart. He carries the constraining burden of seeing people's lives changed by the power of Jesus Christ.
2). He is loaded and ready in his head. Even though he has only been on a church staff full-time for four years (Crossroads in Columbus, Ohio), Pete has been involved in ministry all of his life. Pete’s dad was a pastor. Pete worked in the business world for many years successfully leading a sales force. He was a key leader in our church at its very beginning ten years ago. And the fast growing church where he has been serving has done a lot of things right.
Pete has been a big part of that. He developed a small group ministry that grew from 13 to 85 groups under his leadership. There is no lack of knowledge when it comes to church life and what’s needed to make it successful.
3). He is loaded and ready to lead. He is a leader by nature, by calling, by schooling, and through ongoing study. Pete says a leader is a reader and a reader is a leader. He studies the subject constantly in books, pod casts, and seminars. I know of few men at 38-years-old who are as equipped and prepared to lead a church as Peter Jankowski. And at 38, he is not unseasoned. Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon at 38-years-old. Pete is shooting for a different moon, but he is equipped to get there.
However, what you will discover in time is, though Pete and I know each other quite deeply, and think alike in many ways, we are not the same person. We do not have the same personalities, gifts, talents, or abilities. We are different. Imagine that! We love each other. We respect one another. We have eachother's backs.
But we are different.
How we approach a need, attack a problem, or change something for the better is going to be done differently by each of us. How Pete relates to people, how he orders his day or week, and what gift motivates him to excel will be different than me. His love language is different. His personality traits are different. His spiritual gifts are different. His experience in life is different.
Some pastors might be intimidated by this, when passing the baton. For me it is exactly the opposite. I am thrilled we are not the same for two reasons.
1). Peter is beginning a new day, a fresh gift from God for His church. We have been praying for revival (a resurgence of life). We have been praying for a younger generation to catch the fire of God and pour it out on this current culture. For us, Peter Jankowski is a major answer to that prayer. For this generation to move in revival, we need leaders to lead them. God has given us a good one.
2). The future of Life Church Buffalo is in good hands. When I transition out of my current role completely next spring, I will have installed someone as pastor who will lead the church into a future of spiritual power and a reach into the community that will lead many to Christ. Peter will disciple a new generation of world changers. In effect, Peter will build on the foundation that I have built and make it stronger, more effective, and more successful. The apostle Paul said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." (1 Cor. 3:6). Hallelujah!
The fact that Peter will do things beyond my accomplishment is one of the greatest rewards of my life. It becomes a part of my legacy. Why would I be afraid of that or intimidated by it?
3). We have the opportunity this coming year to demonstrate something. The blending of our personalities, gifts, talents, and abilities, along with the rest of our leadership, will team up to accomplish far greater things than we ever have before.
God makes us all different with various slants on life for a reason.
I discovered this when Carol and I were first married. On the one hand, we experienced some "clash" as two different people were getting used to living together. But the up side is that our individual weaknesses were being strengthened by the positive characteristics of the spouse "opposite" of us. And our strengths were discovering their purpose and depth in ministering to our new partner's needs. This is why opposites attract. God actually planned it that way. He needed us to need others.
It is never His plan for anyone to be self-contained in their ability to function healthily, grow fully, or be successful in life. I'm not just talking about marriage. I'm talking about your ability to exist as a healthy person. Neither you nor I have all we need to make it. Every area of life requires teamwork.
But how does this happen?
How do people of different strokes paint a picture worth admiring? Often, when we try teamwork, we are greatly pained and disappointed. People are people, and people tend to give up and crawl back into the oblivion of self-preservation and alienation. We reject the hardship of working things out. Just look at the brokenness of relationships in our current culture.
The answer is in the "head" of the body and all of its different parts. Of course, if you are a believer in Christ, you know what I am talking about. There is joy in diversity when, under the Lordship of Christ, He causes that diversity to be unified through love and purpose. These two characteristics will forge the power of unified diversity.
Love accepts the diversity of another as a gift to give strength to my weakness and growth to my lack. Love is always the answer. However, love is not based on the feelings that the other person can or cannot give to me. Love is based on what I have to give to them. Love is hard work - well worth it, but hard work just the same. It will plow through the walls, the disappointments, the unlovely days, the negative responses and even unforgiveness. Love will give mercy and grace and allow for second, third, and fourth chances. Love never fails.
The other thing that unifies diversity is purpose.
Purpose moves diversity toward a common goal, forcing it to work toward something bigger than itself. When the purpose is big enough, there is room for everyone to participate and expend the energy each has to give. Rather than our differences getting in the way of one another, we find ourselves working together to reach the common goal. We appreciate our differences and long to embrace the usefulness of each person's gifts. Then, when we reach the goal or accomplishing the mission, the level of success is bigger, the celebration is bigger, and the rewards are far bigger than if we had done it alone.
Open your hearts to the fresh wind of diversity, the divine orchestration of God's multi-faceted body, and watch God increase the impact of our efforts to fulfill His purposes.
"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. for as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them..." Romans 12:3-6a.
Let's change the world together