Sunday, October 21, 2012

You’re Covered

Over the years I’ve heard ministers give differing opinions as to whether they should have a “covering” or a fellow minister overseeing them. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines covering as “a thing used to cover something else, typically in order to protect or conceal it.” One apostle I know preaches that everybody should have a pastor. I believe that’s good advice, especially for newborn believers. Whenever leading someone to the Lord, I always encourage him (or her) to find a good church where he can be discipled and grow in the things of God.

The Bible mentions people who had spiritual mentors: Joshua had Moses, Elisha had Elijah, and Timothy had Paul. On the other hand, Moses never had a spiritual father nor did Elijah or Paul. Paul even cited that as proof of his apostleship (Galatians 1:15-17).

I’ve heard some Christians claim, “I am submitted to God, and no one else!” People who make remarks like that tend to have a rebellious attitude and are not open to correction. Although a believer “ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), Ephesians 5:21 talks about “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” 1 Peter 5:5 also says, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.”

Nevertheless, there are times when a Christian must step out even if others disagree with where God is guiding him. In 1996, I resigned from my job at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association because the Lord wanted me to attend revival meetings in Toronto but my supervisor wouldn‘t give me the time off. He plus elders from my church questioned my decision. To them, it looked foolish for me to leave a “stable job.” But instead of following their opinions, I obeyed what God instructed me to do. As a result, I had the opportunity to stretch my faith and live in Toronto for two months where the Lord met my needs. After returning to Minnesota, I came back to work at Billy Graham. Two years later, I left that job for good to travel on the mission field full-time.

Now and then I haven’t officially had a home church but still sought counsel from other ministers I kept in contact with. Sometimes the Lord has led me to temporarily move to a new city where I initially didn’t have any spiritual connections. In situations like that, I always sought out a good church to attend that I could also refer newborn believers to. Occasionally pastors there encouraged me to come forward and speak without hearing me preach beforehand. They discerned by the Spirit of God I had something to say that would bless their congregations.

Still, there have been critics who accused me of being a “lone ranger.” Until recently I considered paying money to join a ministerial organization so my ministry would have greater creditability. But then I heard this powerful statement from Ian Clayton: “You don’t have to buy a covering when Jesus is your covering.”

If you happen to be in-between churches right now, pray and ask God to lead you to where He wants you planted and to whom He wants you accountable. Until then, God has you covered if you are submitted to Him.

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” - Psalm 91:4

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