Success is not found in how many letters you have next to your name. Nor is life about the amount of zeros and commas in your bank account. Those things may be important depending on what you want to do with your life. But when it comes down to it, you won't leave with those things. When we leave this earth, we all leave the same, in need of God's mercy. When we stand before Him we will not expect respect for our earthly reputation or level of education. Nor will we dare act entitled. We will be trembling before Him, each and every one of us. I am not trying to paint a gloom and doom image. Quite the contrary. There is much freedom when we realize the millions of possibilities we have in front of us. With Freedom comes Joy. With Joy there is peace and with that there is a level of intimacy with God that is hard to come by.
"For lack of guidance, a nation falls, but with many counselors comes deliverance." (Proverbs 11:14)
I've spent way too much of my christian life alone. When I was in the world, I somehow had more unity than after I entered the Kingdom. Plenty of the people I wanted to hang out with for some reason or another didn't want to hang out. Some of them had their own cliques and I did not fit in. It was confusing. Nonetheless, I spent my time in the secret place. It was all I knew. Most of the christian brothers I knew were plenty of years older than myself. I did not know a ton of guys my age who wanted to chase after God. There was one guy I met who was mentioning to me that he basically wanted to mentor me (not in those words). At the time, I felt like I had gotten a "weird vibe" from him. So I distanced myself. I also did not know what mentorship was. I did not realize what he was getting at. So there was some arrogance on my part there, I can admit.
Another guy came along who had mentioned to me that he wanted to be there for me as a mentor. Someone who would keep me accountable. I didn’t feel any weird vibe from him, but he seemed to genuinely care. He was a great guy. Sadly, He passed away not much longer after that. Again, I retreated further into the secret place. The secret place for me was life-changing, every time I entered it. So I don't regret being in "my cave." But I did learn a valuable lesson. That lesson was the importance of balance. I received so much strength in the secret place. A type of strength that has fueled me for years. There are things I see other Christians struggling with that I did not understand, simply because I did not have the same experiences.
Many of the guys I had met, have had community for so long but somehow still struggled with an orphan spirit. I was thinking, HOW? You literally have what I never did. But then again, there are different strengths added with each season. The season I had where I had nothing but my "secret place" gave me a strength to where I felt like I didn’t need anyone. But then again, it sucks when you come into issues that are almost impossible to get out of without the help of a community.
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
I learned the hard way. We need to be able to trust God, lean on Him and no one else. But we also need community just as much, not to replace God but so God can use them to minister to us. And vice versa, so we can bring what we have to the table and benefit everyone else. The body of Christ really is a family. And we cannot think we are going to get to all of the heights God has called us to climb all by ourselves. We are not lone wolfs.
When I finally started to realize all of this. I would start reaching out to everyone I could to relay this message and see if I could build some kind of accountability system or brotherhood. Crickets. People would act like they were on the same page, but then start avoiding me. Maybe it was me? Was there something wrong with me? Dang, now I feel like I am dealing with an orphan spirit. I would continue in the secret place, making my declarations, praying, worshiping and reading my word. I finally got a hold of a guy I knew who was really living for God. He was someone in the community who I knew would go out and try to reach people, the same way I did. We always connected on that level but for some reason never connected on a personal level. We never really hung out. So we set up a time to meet up and hang out. I started to tell him what I was struggling with. Things I needed help with, accountability, freedom and deliverance. But as I spoke, I looked up at him, and I seem to have caused disappointment from him. I felt judged. Pretty soon, he packed up his things and left. We never hung out again. Whats wrong with me? It can't be everyone else and not me. I must be the common denominator.
Even though I have yet to find the community I longed for, God still sent a few angels my way. I met a guy at Barnes and Noble. He was homeless. He saw me grab a poetry book, I saw him watching me. I heard him speaking but no one was around him. He had a rhythm to his speech, but I could not make out what He was saying. I asked him if he was doing spoken word or something. He said no, just praying. He began to deliver a word to me that ministered to me. He started to minister to me about condemnation and how it was the enemy of my soul. After that interaction, I never saw him again. I thank God for moments like that. They happen out of the blue, but are far from a surprise to God. They are divinely orchestrated.
Finally, after I got married, my wife moved to Indiana to be with me. She also noticed the lack of community in the area. We were on a hunt to meet new people and get together with others. I thought, for sure with her out-going personality, it will finally happen. I've always been a little more introverted and she comes off as an extro-vert. We soon would put together a group for community outreach. It was a great time. I love all who were included and will never forget. We've all had times of joy, times of tears and everything in between. When you don't see a path to where you want to go, create it!
Pretty soon, that season started coming to an end. We started a new chapter by having our son. We felt it was difficult to facilitate the needs of our group. We all stayed in contact but all realized we needed more than just the ability to do outreach. We all felt like we lacked discipleship. We all felt like we needed mentorship. My wife and I were finally invited to a small group, led by someone I'd now consider a big brother and mentor. They went to another church, so it was difficult for us at first. We did not want to feel like we were betraying anyone since we were not leaving our church and did not have a desire to. But we desperately needed this small group. We felt like spouts that were empty, how could we pour anything out? We needed a new spring to pour into us for a while during that season.
I learned alot during that season. He taught me so much. Just as I did with my Pastor, I learn more from watching them do life than preaching a message. I got to watch him lead others. I also learned what discipleship was on a higher level. I mostly knew what it was from reading the Bible. So I mostly had “text-book” knowledge. But now I would start to experience it first hand. He had a small group with both men and women but soon started a mens group. Both groups met every week. The expectations were laid out on the first day. Everyone had to agree. He wanted to pour into us, but we had to understand the purpose of accountability. He said we were not allowed to lie about what we were going through. How could he help us if we were unwilling to open up? If we went to the ER but won't tell anyone what is wrong, how will they know how to treat us? This was both intimidating, scary and FREEING at the same time. This made my heart leap. It was a scary thought to have to be fully vulnerable with anyone and let it all out. But I knew that I wanted to grow. And how can I grow if I am unwilling to admit the areas that are in need of attention? We cannot grow if we stay in denial about where we are at. We also have to be willing to lay it all down. Once we are able to be real about where we are, we have to be willing to lay it all down at the cross. Otherwise, we are just holding on to something God never meant for us to carry.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
To sum it all up. The few months I spent in the small group was life changing. It exceeded my expectations. My wife and I both agreed that we felt like we had grown more in a few months than a few years (before the small group). And this is no shade to anywhere else I’ve been that did not have this kind of thing set up. I’m just simply sharing my experience.
My hope for you is that you can find a community that is not going to gossip. People who are on one accord. Real people who all want to grow. Not everyone will grow at the same pace, but that's okay. We all have our own race to run. But as long as we are willing to run it. Remember, accountability can change your life. If you have someone who is willing to pour into your life, be willing to open up to receive it. We all like the sound of "accountability" until its time to actually be accountable. It takes work, discipline, realness and authenticity. But if you are willing to put your best foot forward, God can use that and allow you to walk in your truest, most authentic self (in Christ).
Private Link to a spoken word piece I did outside of the “impact conference” by John Eckhardt. (Same day as the photo above) I wrote this while in the parking lot. This was 6 years ago: https://youtu.be/rRgfQU1hu3c