Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Practice of Partnerships

25Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
 - Acts 11:25-26 (KJV)

The Bible speaks of partnerships.  We are given numerous New Testament examples through Paul and Silas as well as Paul and Barnabas, Peter and John, and the Sons of Thunder, James and John.  However, the Old Testament gives us a few partnerships, too.  Moses and Aaron,  Jonathan and David, and Joshua and Caleb

In fact, the Bible expressly states that Barnabas went out looking for a man who he knew could help this group of new believers along with him.  They connected in a previous period where Barnabas had vouched for the brother in his own style as the Son of Encouragement.  Barnabas contacted Saul in Tarsus.  They both committed to the work, spending an entire year strengthening these "Christians" which is what they completed. Those are some starting blocks for building a partnership in ministry: connect, contact, commit and complete.  You all of these together and with each other in mind.

Partnerships bring about:
  • Blessings: whether it is prayer or collateral, you need a partner who will be a blessing to you; you should serve as a blessing to your partner in business or ministry
  • Benefits: your partner may bring something to the table that you do not bring; you surely do not carry the entire weight of the burden alone when you have a partner
  • Bonds:  your partner builds a bond with you over time that strengthens your relationship; you see him as a brother beloved or her as a dear sister; the bond between the two of you is solid
A Bonus View of an OT Partnership:

6Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” - Numbers 14: 6-9 (NIV)

Joshua and Caleb seem to be a partnership that withstood some heavy opposition (Numbers 13, Numbers 14).  Imagine trying to hold on to what God says when the naysayers outnumber you and are convincing those who have authority over you.  Try as you might, both you and your partner can take a stand but neither of you can convince your Moses, the shepherd of your flock, to see what God is doing and can do for you and His people. In fact, it looks like speaking up could lead to your own doom.  Oddly enough, it appears that both Joshua and Caleb got a view of the on-the-job training of Moses and Aaron as they learned from God throughout the wilderness wanderings over those forty years.

In all of it, the people complained and condemned the two young men who had served as spies.  The people condemned them, but the Lord commended them and their belief.  Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.  The Lord spoke of the two being the only two of those spies and that generation over twenty to make it into the promised land.  For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.  Then, the Lord seals it all up with a simple narrative:  Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.

If you are facing opposition, build your partnerships where you can.  Find someone of similar or like faith on your job, in your ministry, at your church or in your network of friends and associates.  Pray to God to show you who He has in mind for you to walk in tandem with.  God doesn't intend for you to take on every obstacle alone.  See how He is working on your behalf.  See Him at work in the midst of the misery and through the trials and tests.  Start seeking that person now.

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