I shared this in chapter 22 of my essay called Learning Leadership Lessons from 2 Corinthians.
As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 Corinthians 6:1
“God’s fellow workers” Isn’t that a great way to describe spiritual leaders? Paul used it in another place along with some other descriptive terms for those who lead:
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. …What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe –as the Lord has assigned to each his task. …So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.” (1 Corinthians 3:5, 9; 4:1).
I’ve labeled these passages in the margin of my Bible: “What Leaders Look Like.”
As “God’s fellow worker,” I often pray, “Lord, show me how I can partner with You, as You further your purposes in this person.” I have to remember that God doesn’t really need me to help Him help people, but He has chosen to include me in the process. I see myself as an “Assistant to the Master Surgeon.” I don’t do surgeries; I merely take orders from Him while He does them! I’m there to hand Him whatever scalpels, stitches or sponges that He requires during His surgeries on people’s souls.
Thinking of my role like this helps me in two ways. First, it takes the pressure off of me to have to fix people or be their personal spiritual surgeon. I’m not the surgeon. I usually don’t have a clue what someone’s problem is, let alone the cure for it. There’s only one Spiritual Surgeon, and it’s certainly not me!
On the other hand, it does make me responsible to be available to the Lord and to people. I may not be the Master Surgeon, but the Master has chosen to include me as one of His many “fellow workers,” and He’s counting on me to do my job alongside Him as He does His job!
“If you don’t want to be on the news tonight, don’t let me wake up during the surgery!” That’s what I told the anesthesiologist before the neurosurgeon cut me open to install titanium rods, plates and screws in my spine. I thought, besides the surgeon himself, the guy whose job it is to keep me unconscious was the most important. I wasn’t nearly as afraid of dying on the table as I was of waking up on the table with the job only half done! While the surgeon is the main guy, he needs his assistants in order to successfully repair people.
Let’s be practical
- There’s something humbling and yet inspiring about seeing ourselves as assistants to the Master Surgeon. The humbling part is in realizing that we don’t really help people. We merely partner with God as He helps them. Is there a chance that you have forgotten (or never learned) this? Ask the Lord if there’s someone under your spiritual influence with whom you’re trying to do the work of the Surgeon instead of as His assistant.
- The inspiring part is realizing that God does include us, wants to use us, is counting on us to partner with Him. Are you feeling a bit “useless” lately? Maybe you need to design a mock business card with this title following your name, “GOD’S FELLOW WORKER.” Ask Him if there’s someone on whom He’s about to do surgery, and he requires your assistance.
I’ve always said there are two kinds of spiritual leaders: aspiring ones and perspiring ones. Do you have a friend that fits one of those descriptions? Why don’t you share this with them and invite them into a conversation about it.
PS Tell ’em you’re praying for them. And actually do pray – often!