So far in this series, I’ve introduced the topic of mutuality (“Considering Mutuality – Introduction“), contrasted mutuality with both individualism and collectivism (“Considering Mutuality – Individualism and Collectivism“), demonstrated that the concept of mutuality is prevalent in the New Testament (“Considering Mutuality – Where in Scripture?“), and explored the scriptural connection between mutuality and maturity for believers (“Considering Mutuality – And Maturity?“). Finally, in my previous post in this series, I discussed some of the implications of living mutually interdependent lives for leaders among the church (“Considering Mutuality – Implications for leaders”).
There are many, many among the church who desire to live mutually interdependent relationships with other believers, and who recognize the importance of these relationships for the maturity of the church. However, these people are not considered “leaders” among the church. They are not elders, or deacons, or pastors, or teachers, or whatever other titles the church may use to recognize leaders. What do these people do? Is it hopeless? Must they “leave their church” in order to find and nurture these kinds of mutually interdependent relationships?
The simple answers are: No, it is not hopeless, and no, they do not have to “leave their church” in order to live mutually with one another.
However, they many need to become leaders. What?!?!? Am I saying that people will need to become elders or pastors for their church in order to seek and see these mutual relationships? No. That’s not what I said.
Instead, I said that they may need to become leaders… meaning, they may need to lead others in forming mutually interdependent relationships. They may need to become the examples that others will need in order to recognize the importance of mutuality.
I get calls and emails from believers all the time. I meet with people for lunch. And, eventually, a question like this comes up: “But, how do I begin to form and live in this kind of relationship with others when our church and church leaders don’t seem interested? Should I leave my church?”
I have never suggested that someone “leave their church” for this reason. Instead, I encourage people to begin forming and living in relationships with those people who are already in their lives. They may know these people through church organizations, work, neighborhoods, etc. Eat together. Serve together. Get together. Play games together. Go to movies together. Help one another.
Invite your church leaders to your house and spend time with them outside of the “formal programs” of the church. Relate to them as brother and sister. Ask them about their problems and concerns and hopes and struggles etc.
In other words, if you want live mutually with others, then you may need to “lead” in this type of relationship. Share your life with others and provide opportunities for others to share their lives with you. And… be PATIENT! People do not naturally think mutually. You may need to listen to others for months, years, decades before they start listening to you. You may need to care for others for a long time before they start caring for you.
But, that’s okay… even though it is very difficult. The goal of mutuality and maturity in Christ is worth the hard work… and it IS hard work. In fact, once there is a group of people living mutually with one another, the hard work remains.
But, mutuality and maturity are worth the hard work. And, remember, you are never working along. In fact, you are never working at all… you are simply allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you doing the work that he already wants to do.