Tuesday, May 13, 2008


(One more post from my time in the prayer room last week. If you haven't noticed, my spirit is particularly engaged in that atmosphere.)

As a result of some conversations with my friend Jerri (containing some of the same ideas shared in Trust), she has been needling me about taking the authority to speak into the lives of people I am forming relationships with. Initially, my response was "But I feel I am just called to hang out with these guys, love them, affirm them, but not necessarily preach at them." After about 5 tries, she finally began to get through to me that all of that was fine, but it also needs to include speaking into their lives. Not just "Maybe, some day.", but now. So, I started doing some meditating on that idea.

What gives me (or you) the authority to speak into someone's life?
I think there are at least 3 criteria. All need to be present, at least to some degree.

1. Relationship.
--this is only developed, nurtured, and deepened over time.
--has to be a two-way street. Both of you must admit that a friendship exists, and both of you have the same right of input into each other.
--is encouraged by listening, and not necessarily responding. Much has been said about the art of conversation and the need to really be listening (including my earlier post on Dignity and affirmation).
--every person deserves to exist, and be treated as a fellow human being. That is basic affirmation. As you choose to form a relationship, that affirmation takes on new depth as you begin to recognize the person's specific value. You discover, for example, that they have certain skills and abilities. They have unique interests. They have cool tattoos, they play guitar, they are from Eastern Alberta (like I am), they make a mean latte. Whatever these unique things are, they are special, and your connectedness with them grows. As the friendship deepens, they have a greater right to be heard, to be listened to.
--the deeper the relationship, the deeper the authority. Both you and they have a deeper right to speak. Never forget that if you have the right to challenge them, they also have the right to challenge you.
--time and caring are the two main ingredients of growing a friendship.
--building relationships are not just for having people to preach at!

2. Content.
--you need to have something worthwhile to say in order to speak into someone's life.
--wisdom from experience.
--wisdom from God. I have found that if I am connected with God, His wisdom often flows out of my mouth without any particular preparation. I have discovered that the sentence I just spoke wasn't from my brain, it just kind of fell out. If I am willing to obey and say something, often He will give me something worthwhile to say.
--the content doesn't have to be profound, and better not be preachy--just appropriate.
--conversations like this are best approached as a fellow learner, not an expert. That way, both of you are more likely to learn something.
--a discussion is better than a dissertation. Listen to the response, learn as well as teach.

3. God-given authority.
--do you already have the sense that you are called to this place/people? Is it on your 'home turf'? Do you have a degree of ownership, equity within the life of this person? For example: I feel God's call to the street community of Victoria. So, someone in that community, that I am forming a relationship with, is part of my parish, as it were.
--The Bible has several lists of gifts/abilities that God has given to people. Operating within your calling gives you an authority to speak. The teacher has an authority to teach. The evangelist has the authority to preach good news. The exhorter has the right to say things that will build up. This is not only a matter of authority, but also the skill and passion to accomplish the task. Become acquainted with your calling.
--is there an awareness of divine timing, God-given revelation or discernment? That awareness gives an added strength to speak the words that will impact someone's life.

When all three (relationship, content, and authority) are present, don't hold back. Make the most of the opportunity to impact and be impacted.

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