Mutual Ministry

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” ~John 10:14-15

Ministry is a communal experience. And it’s a mutual experience. And this becomes much more clear to me the more I try to model what I do after what Jesus did/does. As a preachers and ministers or elders and shepherds, we are not spiritual professionals who know the problems of our clients or constituents and take care of them with great efficiency. We are vulnerable brothers and sisters who know and are known, who care and are cared for, who forgive and are being forgiven, who love and are being loved. It’s mutual. It works both ways. It has to.

Some have told me that I’m going to get burned. Some have said I can’t let people get too close. I can’t let people in. I can’t share my inner thoughts and feelings—the things of which I’m proud or the things of which I’m ashamed—because it’ll come back to bite me. I’ve been told that good leadership requires a safe distance from those we’re called to lead. Just look at doctors and psychiatry and social work.


We’re not doctors or psychiatrists or social workers. We’re ministers and shepherds, called by our Father to share his love with the world. Doctors and psychiatrists and social workers provide one-way services. Someone serves, someone else is being served, and the roles are never mixed up or reversed. But if I’m ministering like Jesus…

 How do I lay my life down for people I won’t get close to?

There’s something powerful, I think, about being open and honest, hiding nothing, totally trusting God and his people.

Henri Nouwen addresses this in his In the Name of Jesus.

“Laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to others as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of life. We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for. The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.

Therefore, true ministry must be mutual. When the members of a community of faith cannot truly know and love their shepherd, shepherding quickly becomes a subtle way of exercising power over others and begins to show authoritarian and dictatorial traits. The world in which we live—a world of efficiency and control—has no models to offer to those who want to be shepherds in the way Jesus was a shepherd.”


RockChalkJayhawkIt was pointed out to me by a friend about two hours before tip-off last night that the Bible actually had something to say about the national championship game. Hosea 9:6 clearly states, “Memphis will bury them.” I told this friend (her initials are Paula Byrnes) that that prophesy had already been fulfilled.

I didn’t realize until last night that of the 341 Division I college basketball teams in the country, Memphis ranked 339th in free throw percentage. 59%. And Memphis was up by nine last night with MissedFTtwo minutes to play. But they missed four of their last five free throws down the stretch, allowing Mario Chalmers to sink the buzzer-beating off-balance three that tied it up and sent it to overtime. Kansas won it going away in the extra period. Great game. Back and forth. Frantic at times. Lot of fun.

The Tigers’ choke job kept Whitney and me in a tie in our family basketball pool. And since the final score added up to 143 points, she takes the contest by virtue of the 130 she had in the tiebreaker to my 125. If Kansas had won in regulation, I would still be in possession of my basketball bracket crown at Stanglin Manor. But today the king is dead. Whitney holds the crown. The extra points in the overtime did me in.

It was a bitter-sweet victory for Whit. She was glad for the overall win in the bracket. But it was weird in that the team she’s been cheering for the past month lost. Congratulations, Whitney. And congrats to Geoff. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk. Whatever that means.




  1. Rob's Dad

    In rehab (and I guess other places, but that’s where I heard it) it’s called going core to core. You are dead on target.

    No comments about the Rangers home opener? What a commentary on the sad state of Ranger baseball that they come back from a roadtrip playing .500 ball and it’s looked at as a victory. Rooting for Josh Hamilton and the Red dot…

  2. Allan

    I’m trying not to think about the Rangers home opener which begins in 77 minutes. After making 13 straight home openers in Arlington, this is my second in a row to miss. I don’t know about Hamilton. I ALWAYS root for the red dot.

  3. Rob's Dad

    Check out his story – he’s building his testimonial day by day. Bring back the red shoe Rangers.

  4. jesse

    This could not have spoken any more pointedly to me. I’m looking at how to facilitate “testimony” by individuals who need an outlet to share God’s grace as they’ve experienced it in their own lives. Obviously risky, but such a powerful benefit for many.

  5. Allan

    I know that the kind of open and honest wrestling with God that we shared at Legacy Sunday morning and the kind of lament and prayer we experienced AND the kind of testimony you’re talking about are all happening on Sunday nights in our Small Groups. And the more that kind of thing happens, the more we see the benefits, the more we’re drawn closer to God and to each other, the more we’ll begin to see those kinds of things more regularly when we’re together on Sunday mornings. We certainly need more lament and praying and confessing and testifying together on Sunday mornings, not less. And I believe our Small Groups Churches, with consistency and time, will take us there.

  6. Geoff

    The “Rock Chalk” chant dates to 1866, when it was adopted by the University Science Club. A chemistry professor, E.H.S. Bailey and some of his associates were returning to Lawrence from Wichita on a train. As the story goes, they passed the time by trying to create a rousing cheer. The sound of the train’s wheels on the rails suggested a rhythm and a cadence to them. At first, the cheer was “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU” repeated three times.

    Even though KU didn’t have a football team until four years later, KU students quickly took up the chant. Later, an English professor suggested “Rock Chalk,” in place of “Rah, Rah” because it rhymed with Jayhawk and because it was symbolic of the limestone, also known as chalk rock, surrounding Mount Oread, the site of the Lawrence Campus. It became the official cheer of the University in 1897.

    Teddy Roosevelt pronounced the Rock Chalk Chant the greatest college chant he’d ever heard. It was used by Kansas troops fighting in the Philippines in 1899, the Boxer Rebellion in China, and World War II. At the Olympic games in 1920, the King of Belgium asked for a typical American college yell. The assembled athletes agreed on KU’s Rock Chalk and rendered it for His Majesty.

  7. Allan

    Teddy Roosevelt didn’t get out much, did he?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For spam filtering purposes, please copy the number 3076 to the field below: