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Learning to Partner Using Jesus’ Methods

“Just tell me what I have to do,” my subordinate requested.   “It’s not that easy, this assignment requires your discernment,” I replied. “Well, how can I meet your expectations if you don’t clarify them?” He asked. “I’m giving you broad expectations so that you have latitude to figure…
By Seth Barnes
“Just tell me what I have to do,” my subordinate requested.
 
“It’s not that easy, this assignment requires your discernment,” I replied.

“Well, how can I meet your expectations if you don’t clarify them?” He asked.

“I’m giving you broad expectations so that you have latitude to figure out for yourself how best to meet them. I want to partner with you, not give you a set of instructions.”

My subordinate wanted to reduce the task to a transaction. Knowing that our project required innovation and the synergy of good partners, I resisted. I didn’t want someone to paint by numbers. 

I sensed an opportunity for partnership and needed help figuring out how to get there. It’s foundational to my call. It’s how this whole thing started. Look at what it says about the first believers:

The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the Temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts.” Acts 2:46 

I look at that example. You see three things: 

a common purpose 

a common table 

a common attitude (joy) 

I want to live like that. How about you?

Our American culture
 
My partnership with Karen (read the story here) is the best partnership story I’ve got. Through 37 years of partnering, I’ve seen what a powerful tool it is. The good news is that we our the progeny of a Father who built us for partnership. It wasn’t good for “man to be alone.” So God created a partner for him.
 
The problem is we live in a transactional culture that gets you what you want with a quick point and click. We need to understand the difference between someone focused on transactions and someone focused on partnership. Here are some characteristics of each:
 
Transactional
•Quid Pro Quo  
•If/Then  
•Project-based  
•Check the boxes  
•Short-term  
•Cost/benefit calculus  
•American  
•Sunday-only church  
•Click & pay
 
Relational
•Win/Win                             (instead of Quid Pro Quo)
•“I want to bless you”           (instead of If/Then)
•Relationship-based              (instead of Project-based)  
•“How can I help?”                (instead of Check the boxes)  
•Long-term                          (instead of Short-term)  
•More blessed to give            (instead of Cost/benefit calculus)  
•Kingdom                             (instead of American)
•Home groups                       (instead of Sunday-only church)
•“Let me get to know you”     (instead of Click & pay)
 
Which of these lists looks more like you? There is no shame in being raised in a transactional culture. We can’t help the fact that everything is instant and that our version of journaling is Instagram. We are creatures of the environment in which we were raised.
 
Kingdom culture
 
But Jesus talked about another way. His short-hand for that way was the word “kingdom.” His relationships went deep and he wants ours to do the same. 
 
God calls his people to covenant – he built us for deep relationships. And the fact that we can connect and be known not just by friends, but by God himself should be an earth-shattering revelation to those who grasp it.
 
As we embrace God’s mission to bring not just good news, but fantastic news to people, we will have to partner. If we go outside our neighborhood and our personal network, we will have to rely on the trust of others. 
 
If we go outside our country, we will have to rely on the cultural understanding and probably language fluency of others.
 
Jesus calls these people “men of peace.” He talks about looking for them in Matthew 10. They are the partners he has prepared for us already embedded in and familiar with the local context.
 
Think about all the people you would consider partners. Learning how to partner is a skill. You have to make the choice to unlearn your transactional habits if you are to press into the kingdom.
 
But oh the joy of life in the kingdom with partners you would die for and who would die for you. I’ve got a few and it’s awesome! There’s no better life than that. Jesus called it “abundant life.” 
 
The bridge to it may look like a cross, but let me assure you, it will hold your weight.

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