If someone were to ask me to place a monetary value on the equipping I have received in my life it would be impossible to come up with a number. What value does one place on being grounded in Him? Coming up with a monetary value is impossible because the things of the Spirit are worth far more than those of the temporal. Yet the scriptures are clear these gifts I have received have economic value. This blog is the second of a four part series by Loren Rosser and is posted by permission.
When I was at the ripe age of nineteen, two men came into my life whose influence would prove to be invaluable. These two men laid the firm foundation of Christ in me. Their names were Jim and Rob. They were true equippers. Jim was a prophet who spoke a truly life changing word from God to me that sealed the reality of my heavenly Father in my heart for the rest of my life. He also birthed in me a genuine hunger to hear my Father’s voice. Through Jim I came to understand that hearing God is everything in our walk with Him. Man truly does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Rob was a married man who had a pastor’s heart. He took me under his wing as a younger brother and began teaching me through our one on one conversations how to hear Father and live in Him in the practical realities of life. He fine-tuned my ability to hear God and through the home fellowship to which we belonged, Rob helped me learn how to bring what God was currently speaking to a group of people. He actually trained me to teach prophetically. Then when Lilly and I started dating, Rob prepared me to be a good husband, not only through his example, but also by sitting down with me regularly to chat about my relationship with Lilly.
If someone were to ask me to place a monetary value on the equipping I have received in my life it would be impossible to come up with a number. What price do I place on hearing Father’s voice? What value does one place on being grounded in Him? How much should one pay for a marriage that has successfully weathered some of life’s most difficult storms and still remains strong? Coming up with a monetary value is impossible because the things of the Spirit are worth far more than those of the temporal. But when I look at the fruit that is in my life because of the labor of these two men, there is not a doubt in my mind that these men deserved “double honor” (monetary compensation) for their labors. How much did these men receive? Not a dime.
Jim was the associate pastor of the church we attended and later became the pastor. It was one of three congregations in the area that were headed by a board of elders. Jim never received a salary. He always had to support himself and his family by holding down a full time job. Rob was the worship leader who not only spent his time counseling, teaching, and pouring into the lives of others, he also spent his days mowing lawns for his landscape business to support his growing family. That may seem all well and good, but here is the real problem. The church we attended taught the necessity of tithing. Lilly and I were faithful tithers. But out of all of that money that went to the church, how much of what we gave actually went to Jim and Rob? Not a cent. Kind of strange being that they were the ones who actually did the work in my life that remains to this day.
Let me straight out say I am a firm believer that tithing is over. It’s just as much a part of the old covenant as sacrificing animals and not eating pork. But I don’t have the time or the energy to unpack that here. Let me just say that even though I don’t believe in tithing, I am a firm believer that if you choose to attend gatherings in a building and enjoy being served by a salaried staff it is only right that you contribute reasonable amounts to cover the cost of those things.
Tithing may be dead but giving to those who are true equippers is very much alive and well in the New Covenant. One only has to look at the life of Paul to see that. The problem is so many have been damaged by controlling religion and false equippers that they have closed their hearts and wallets to those who pour into others that which is invaluable. Just as I showed you from my past experience, we approached equipping from an institutional mindset instead of a relational reality.
The institutional church was viewed as being the storehouse. We gave to that because it gave us access to all the goods. I think of it like paying the monthly membership fee at an athletic club. You pay the fee because you gain access to all the, amenities, equipment, and classes the club has to offer. So it doesn’t matter if you’re actually being equipped by your friend the plumber or the pastor, your check still goes to the Christian organization you attend. Writing out those checks becomes as robotic as paying bills.
In a relational reality, we live aware of the needs of those around us and are actually mindful of giving financial support to those who are genuinely equipping the body. We are still giving to the storehouse, but we recognize the storehouse is not a man-made organization but the person in our lives who is laying the foundation of Christ in us. And we don’t only give to the equippers while we’re receiving from them. The fact of the matter is very few are in the place of maturity in Christ to be asked to give while they’re being equipped. Paul recognized this when he wrote to the immature Corinthians and stated that although he had the right to ask of them for support he refused to do it. Instead he received from others to support him while he equipped the Corinthians. It is crucial that those of us who have been equipped don’t just take the foundation we’ve received and go our merry way. Rather, as mature believers it is our turn to recognize what we have received and identify those who are equippers in the body and support their work in the lives of others so they don’t have to be a burden on the weak and immature. The world has a term for this, “Pay it forward.”
As I stated in my last article, yes we are all equal in the body of Christ, we are all brethren. One does not have more value than another. (In truth, the equippers are actually the least among us. But more on that in my next few articles.) Yet, don’t tell me nineteen year old Loren who was just sorting out this journey was functioning in the kingdom at the same level of effectiveness as seasoned Jim and Rob. You can’t tell me I didn’t need what they had. Nor can you tell me any other Joe or Jane Christian could have laid the foundation in Christ that these men did. It took two mature brothers in Christ functioning as a prophet and a pastor, loving me enough to lay their lives down for me at their own expense for Christ to be formed in me. I don’t think the question is whether we should support equippers financially? I think the real question is what would I give to see the rest of the body of Christ equipped and grounded in Him?
Loren Rosser co-hosts the Untangled podcast and has written numerous articles and produced several videos including the award winning Church Outside the Walls series. He has worked in network television for over 17 years and holds a BA in social science from Ashford University in Clinton, IA. http://untangled.podomatic.com/ http://loreends.blogspot.com/ http://familyroommedia.com/
Copyright 2014, Loren Rosser, www.stevecrosby.org. Published here by permission. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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