Same Gift. Different Administration.

Fellow Young Minister,

Merry Christmas! I hope its going well for you on the road. I hear traveling weekly and preaching can get pretty lonely and presents its unique challenges. People are expecting you to show up with the same results everywhere you go, yet each church you’re with has a large variety of differences that show up. Talk about pressure. We know, its only pressure if we let it become so. But, I remember you mentioned how you felt the people expecting you to preach a certain way, because you are an evangelist; which typically means people are going to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, be baptized in Jesus name, miracles and healings are going to show up. Despite the expectations of the people, you mentioned you went ahead and followed God’s Spirit and there was demonstration of the Spirit and of power. This letter is not about the definition of demonstration, but I’m thankful for how you said that you focused on just “doing the will of God, and staying in your lane”. That really went a long way with me. I decided to look into the office God has appointed for you, from a biblical perspective, and the subject became bigger than I thought it would be. I have other friends called to the same office and became very intrigued, because while the Spirit and gift is the same, the administrations are different (1 Corinthians 12:1-4).

In Acts 8, Philip, biblically-known as an evangelist, went about Samaria preaching to people who had not heard of Jesus, having miracles and deliverance confirm the preaching (Acts 21:8). Likewise, people were being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, but no one was receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We don’t hear of Philip getting frustrated over why none were receiving the Spirit, he simply sends word for Jerusalem to send Peter and John. These two apostles show up and Samaritans receive the Spirit. EVERYONE rejoices.

There are a few things I want to denote before going further. Philip ACKNOWLEDGES that there is still a need not yet met, that another individual is gifted for. In the same manner, when people receive the Spirit after Peter and John show up, we don’t hear of Philip thinking he’s a good-for-nothing evangelist. It doesn’t stop there. An angel speaks to Philip to pack his bags and go to a desert where he finds ONE man, an Ethiopian eunuch. He proceeds to preach Jesus to this man, who reads the Scriptures, and baptizes the man in the middle of the desert. Then, God literally translates Philip to another region, like straight out of the movie “Jumper”. What’s astounding to me is that Philip is fully confident in his office and gifting, whether or not he was ministering to a whole region, one man, people received the Spirit, or people were being baptized. I wonder how many places Philip would be “invited to preach” nowadays, if no one ever received the Spirit where he went. Nevertheless, God would speak to him and Philip would listen. Peter had his place. John had his place. Philip had his place. ALL were effective.

Allow me to take this further. You know who else was gifted as an evangelist? Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5). The Scripture emphasizes that Timothy needed to be intentional about making “full proof” of his ministry. Yet, we discover that Paul had STATIONED Timothy in the region of Ephesus (1 Timothy 1). So how does one make full proof of their ministry, as an evangelist, when you’re stationed? We see here that the office of an evangelist isn’t limited to an “itinerant preacher” that’s invited to church services. Paul fully expected Timothy to appoint elders at Ephesus and still grow as an evangelist. It is for this very reason, I believe that Paul told Timothy to “not neglect the gift” that was within him (1 Timothy 4:14). Biblically, evangelists are individuals that are gifted for bearing the good news to SINNERS, not saints. Many times, we call traveling preachers evangelists, when they really may be operating as an apostle, prophet, pastor, or even teacher. I have witnessed young ministers become frustrated or skeptical of God’s gifting for them because it was not administered in the same manner others administered their gifting. They felt called to be an “evangelist” but never had “preaching opportunities” show up. Consequently, they felt like the bible studies they taught, souls won, and evangelistic equipping done in the local church weren’t good enough for a phone call to preach somewhere else. When in fact, it was the most terrifying thing that young evangelist could do to the kingdom of darkness in their hometown – and more importantly, to glorify the name of Jesus Christ.

Scripture talks about the “same Spirit” distributing “manifestations”, “administrations”, and “ministries” to every individual in the church (1 Corinthians 12). I would apply this principle to the five offices in Ephesians 4, as well. The same office, but a different manifestation or placement. BOTH just as effective. All evangelists are traveling preachers, but not all traveling preachers are evangelists. Whether or not traveling takes place right down the street, you’re traveling towards the destination of a soul’s heart, in order for God to intervene where they are at. I love how the Lord has such diversities of gifts in His body, and ALL MATTER. Paul talks about how the “unseemly” and overlooked ones end up mattering the most (1 Corinthians 12:23). It gave me so much encouragement to find this out, because our Lord really has a part for all of us to contribute through. Likewise, I am grateful and excited to know that I will continue to see God glorified in the manners He is through your life, in the years to come. It may be that you are in the same place Timothy was, in 20 years from now; but, God won’t be done doing marvelous things through you.

I suppose I can end this letter with saying, we’ve all received gifts from Jesus on our spiritual Christmas, and we rejoice that though our administrations may be different, the gift and Spirit is one and the same. Thankful to be partnering with you.

Merry Christmas!

Fellowshipping or Socializing?

Have you ever spent time with friends and left feeling empty? Maybe because of a subject that was brought up, a person that was there, or something that was done while you were there?

How about this: everything was fine, but you still left feeling like nothing was done. I think in an honest, conscious or subconscious, effort to fellowship, you ended up socializing.

It doesn’t make your friends evil – or you boring. I believe there was just a lack of intentionality. I think this is one of the most powerful elements of fellowship. With fellowship, there is a deliberate behavior to engage someone else for the betterment of the individual and atmosphere. With socializing, there is an unspoken pressure to conform to what is acceptable to everyone else. GOOGLE IT. That is the #2 definition of the word.

This isn’t a jab at my friends or self-deprecation, it’s just a real situation we would never want for others, especially those we call our friends. In an effort to make myself available to others, I have miscalculated my presence as being equal to my influence. As much as I would want to carry myself in a manner that influences others in a positive way, it is not always the case. In the 1st century, believers were intentional about this principle of fellowship (Acts 2:42). Biblically, the word means joint-participation and joint-contribution (Strong’s Greek 2842). There are quite a few angles to consider at this point. Who is responsible for engaging who?

WE ARE. Whoever has or wants friends must show himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24). Unless we don’t want friends, then this can easily apply to us. There are some people that act like they don’t need anybody, when in fact they tend to be the most desiring for friendship. So what does it mean to show myself friendly? I think this simply means, looking for avenues in which to engage somebody or provoke them to healthy engagement. I have gone out to eat with friends and acquaintances in the name of a “good time” and my most prominent memory of it was how much money I ill-spent or how much REAL conversation was eluded or diluted to shallow talk. I have realized that if I am generous in my friendliness with others, I am going to be met with generous friendliness. This may shock the person you are trying to fellowship with, but ACTUALLY cause them to answer the question, “Hey, how’s it going?”. Don’t settle for them saying, “Good”, or “Hey, how are you?”. I have been guilty of telling people that answered my “how are you” in such an echo, that they ought to answer me first. I mean, how is that response an answer to the initial question? I have used it a thousand times in moments I wanted to keep my guard up, too; but to engage others, we must be intentional about our communication – understanding our own need for fellowship, and helping it be met in others.

What is the alternative? I do my own thing when hanging out with friends and just care about what I get out of it. I know we all need an escape sometimes from life’s circumstances to just enjoy the safety of our friends. But we must guard the climate of our friendships as a consistent lifestyle choice. If we socialize more than we fellowship, we end up compromising the meaningfulness of the relationships where people feel safe for who they REALLY are. Fellowship is about helping others transform into who they dream to be, while socializing is about letting others conform into who they secretly despise to be. Fellowship is about building others up, while socializing let’s people be dishonest with who they are. I don’t want to pressure people to be like me, but I should be able to provoke them into becoming better. It is amazing to me how God meets people where they are at and ENGAGES them into change. We would be amazed to find out how many people would want to fellowship with us if we understood this. I want people to say they feel better about the value of their own life, when they walk away from spending time with me. Am I 100% performer in this regard? Absolutely not. But even a baseball player that makes it to FIRST BASE, 4 out of 10 times, is considered a mega-star. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Next time you meet with your friends or even some acquaintances, you get to pick whether you fellowship or socialize.