Watch the company you keep


What kind of people do you like to be around? What kind of people should you be around? It’s worth asking the question.

Elaine and I have just returned from two weeks in northern England. We enjoyed a whirlwind tour of seven churches, and were encouraged to see the grace of God at work in all of them.

During that time we had the privilege of staying with couples who were absolutely full of two essential ingredients of healthy leadership - faith and vision. It was a feast to move from home to home and listen to the stories of how God met these folk, often in the midst of impossibly faith-stretching situations.

Here’s a “taster” of what we found. Different couples are involved in the different stories.

Lack of money to pay the bills? No problem, they pray and God provides, often at the last minute and in completely unpredictable ways. No house to live in? No problem, they pray and God leads them to a non-Christian landlord who rents the house at less than half market value. No venue for the church to meet in? No problem. They pray and go to an absolutely beautiful facility which doesn’t rent to churches and is very expensive. After a brief conversation with the manager, he decides to rent them the facilities, and at less than half the going rate. Immigration issues? No problem, they pray and at the very last minute God gives them the documentation to stay in the country. Need a building for a 24-hour house of prayer? No problem, they pray and God sends them to a Jewish businessman who renovates a damaged building in a strategic location at great expense and then rents it to them, complete with large meeting room, storage area, beautiful kitchen, foyer and washrooms, for less than $400 a month. Need more people for a church plant? They pray, and a couple comes because God sends a visiting speaker from the other end of the country totally unfamiliar with local churches into a church service they are attending who walks up to them and says one word, which is the name of the church plant! Can’t afford a house to live in? They pray, and God gives them a completely gutted and renovated house when the vendor decides to knock $60,000 off the selling price. Got a small church but desperate for a place to meet? They pray and put an offer in on the city hall. This one’s in progress, but I have a feeling the mayor is on his way out the door!

At the end of the trip, we realized there was a cumulative effect to being around all these people. Our faith was increased and our vision was expanded. And at our last stop, we received a commissioning from very dear friends to move into a new place where God will do great things.

And I want to add one important detail. These are people taking massive steps of faith and common-sense defying risks because they felt God told them to in order to extend his kingdom. They are not people with a couple of expensive cars in the garage and lots of money in a pension plan. They are out on a limb for God. And God is meeting them.

Coming home, I was sitting in the car praying, and asking the Lord to fuel my faith and feed my vision. He can do that in many ways, but one of the ways is to be around people of faith and vision.

Those of us in Christian leadership wind up giving out a fair bit to folk who really need our help, and that’s the business we’re in. But often we forget that we also need to be fed. That happens, obviously, as we pray, read the Bible and worship. But it also happens through the company we keep.

Facing some big steps of faith ourselves, I felt God sent all these brothers and sisters into our lives at just the right time. We received far more than we gave.

Nothing much is accomplished for the kingdom by people unwilling to risk their personal comfort and financial security. Who needs faith when you can do it yourself?

I want to be found in the company of those risking everything.

Because that’s where miracles are found.