Partner. Now there’s a word that frightens some people. Take on a partner and you take on trouble, say businesspeople.

Yes, that’s one possible outcome, as some have learned to their peril. Yet, on the other hand, many businesspeople have gone into partnership with one, even two or three people, and their company has really taken off and their lifestyle has been bettered. In fact, some businesses would have gone under, or the owner’s health would have failed, if he or she hadn’t made that decisive move.

Spouses, not partners
Married and unmarried couples speak of ‘their other half’ as their partner these days. But the better, more meaningful term for a married person is spouse, not partner.

Dictionaries list a few definitions for ‘partner,’ admittedly including ‘a husband or a wife’ but that’s fourth down in the listing. ‘Spouse’ on the other hand has only one definition – ‘one’s husband or wife.’ And in this connection it speaks of a definite meaningful relationship.

We need to realise that getting married is more than taking on a partner as in the business world. We are accepting a spouse in legal wedlock and all the responsibility that goes along with that commitment of lifetime loving and cherishing.

And of course if a couple have made the right choice in the beginning (prayed about it and been God-led), then they’ll do all right… despite the proverbial ups and downs that are part of life. (More on this further down).

Recent marriage bad news…a wakeup call!

Bad news travels fast, as we all know, and it’s sad to learn through the infamous – at times – web and news media that Benny and Suzanne Hinn are divorcing.

Like other recent breakups of other frontline Christian ministries, this not only saddens followers but brings confusion and a ridiculing of the church and the name of Christ – whatever the reason behind it. Hopefully Benny Hinn’s ministry base will release a more effective statement that what’s been currently published.

In any case, here’s yet another warning or wakeup call as some have described it, to church leaders, whether husband or wife, to be on their guard. Marriage is meant as a long-term bonding to be worked on daily with not a moment wasted, not even with excessive, ongoing away from home ministry appointments. The scriptural rule is Jesus first, then spouse, then family, then career, then ministry and then the church (of course for ministers, ministry and career might be one).

Yes, of course even what starts as the happiest of marriages can develop problems – for various reasons. But we can call on the one who organised this special, sacred oneness in the first place, God himself. We can even ask the Holy Spirit to help us strengthen our marriage. Then, with his help, let’s be determined to work on our ‘holy union’ and safeguard it and if necessary, breathe freshness into the relationship between us and our spouse.

Relational church partnership
Jesus – the best example ever on any matter – was into partnership…see for example John 15:15; 17:20-23. So was the great Paul…see 2 Cor. 8:23; Phl. 17; Phi. 1:5.

Partnership of the right kind, with the right people, with the right attitude, with the right heart, and with the right vision will produce the right results. We’re thinking particularly of Christians in particular partnerships, especially in building relationships and friendships, and committing to serve the Lord in that local church.

Could there still be problems? Of course! We’re all human and mistakes will occur and misunderstandings will occur… When that happens, scripture is very clear…sort it out early! In Matthew 18 Jesus gave precise instructions on what to do… get together as comrades in Christ and work it through because it’s all about unity and witness!

Of course we’ll always have those seeing things differently. Some will have a fixed mindset of what they expect or think should be happening in church life…especially what the pastor should or should not be doing or saying.

Truth is that some expect too much but don’t contribute themselves or participate in events or fellowship with others. Some are just too judgmental and don’t ask the right questions or seek to help. But, thankfully, there are others who really love Jesus and people unreservedly, recognise God’s calling on them and back up the outwork of the church’s vision and other ministries in every way possible.

For any church to pursue its God-given vision, which includes reaching out to the unsaved, requires each member deepening his/her own relationship with God and seeking, even at a personal cost, to fulfil every aspect of God’s plans for them, both personally and corporately within their church. In other words, we must enter into deeper and more meaningful partnership… genuine partnership with each other and with the Holy Spirit. This involves releasing the three ‘ts’…time, treasure and talents. Nothing is ever lost that is sown faithfully into the kingdom! It grows, develops and touches lives and delights God.

Equal opportunity not equal sharing
History reveals that great people of destiny, such as Churchill and Lincoln, recognised that while they themselves might have leadership skills, they could not fulfil their dreams, aspirations and goals alone. They knew they needed others of like-mindedness and vision alongside them… a working partnership. Not one of equal sharing but equal opportunity.

Jesus recognised this principle and gathered together his famous twelve (some may have said ‘infamous’ twelve but he knew what he was doing!) The great apostle Paul also recognised this principle in building the kingdom of God. In the Philippians scripture above, he talks about the joy of partnership one with the other in the ministry of spreading the gospel.

Yet both Jesus and Paul had a few hiccups with their team players! (Some were pretenders, not real players!) But, in the grace of God, hurdles were overcome and the work of the kingdom continues to this day.

Genuine partnership is close to God’s heart! The very trinity is a partnership…an incredible choreography of movement in unison in action to achieve great outcome. There is no claim to superiority by any one individual but rather a flowing together in skills and unity with purpose for the greater cause. A completing of, not a competing with, each one’s designated role. A grand display of unity and togetherness that changes lives and circumstances.

If, in our individual church, we can be passionate about others and the lost above caring about our own selves, flow in unison, recognise and utilise our callings and support one another’s, we will please God and fulfil his will. We are not in competition with each other’s gifts but are meant to accompany and strengthen each other in life itself and in ministry for Jesus’ glory. Encourage ministry where you see it and get involved where you can!

God’s wakeup call
God is real…get into a relationship with him, then make it a partnership where you allow him to be boss of your life. Great things will happen! Treat the thoughts above as a wakeup call from the Lord to build his church into the most dynamic ‘house’ on earth!

Oh, back to our spouses…let genuine, undemanding love be the name of the game!

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