Lockdown has given everyone an opportunity to reflect and examine many things in our lives and ministries, enabling us to hit the reset button and to change the direction and priority of a number of church structures and systems.
One thing, however, that has remained constant is the speed at which time has elapsed. Many are saying that they are busier in lockdown than they were previously – it’s just a different kind of busy-ness.
Lockdown has given me the time to reflect on over three decades of ministry in leading local church. Has it really been 30 years since I took on the senior leadership of an Assemblies of God church in West Lothian? I recall my youthful zeal and how I was going to win the world for Jesus by the time I reached 30!
Now, all these years later, I’m gripped by one main thing: Legacy. What am I putting into effect today that will impact future generations for Jesus?
Many people shaped and influenced the ministry gift on my life, but four leaders in particular stand out. All four were called John, very different, with varying gifts and skill sets, yet each one powerfully impacting me.
John Strachan was my pastor and my father-in-law for many years. A former missionary to Afghanistan and Pakistan and pastor of two key Assemblies of God (AoG) churches in Scotland, John laid a huge spiritual foundation in my life, as well as a love and appreciation for missions.
I remember at his funeral service being amazed to hear of some of the stories of missional transformation and how he translated the Bible into Urdu & Dari. He was a humble man who loved to see many respond to the call of God on their lives and go into full-time Christian ministry.
At one time in our church in Fraserburgh, it was like a conveyor belt of people responding to that call and preparing for Christian service. He was used by God to put a solid foundation in my life.
The Apostle Paul talks in I Corinthians 4:15 about having many instructors but not many fathers. John Glass, former Elim National Leader has been a spiritual father to many in the nation.
I remember as a young pastor the help, encouragement and blessing he was to me as a young pastor. At a really difficult time in ministry after a devastating church split, John stood with us, encouraged us and ministered into the rebuilding of the local church.
John’s heart to encourage and father young leaders was second to none. I loved being part of the Elim Regional Leadership Days in the late-80s and early-90s, even though I was part of another denomination. I learned so much and was unofficially mentored by John in so many ways.
My friendship with John Partington, former AoG (UK) National Leader, began in the early 90s. I was struck with his level of faith and how he moved in the supernatural power of God. He always would challenge and make us believe for the impossible.
Alongside his impartation of the supernatural, John encouraged us to love life and live life to the full. His favourite scripture, John 10:10, says, “I have come that they may have life and life to the full.”
He modelled a life that needs to be enjoyed and not just endured, making the most of every day and enjoying the journey. Too many Christian leaders have nothing outside of ministry and their whole identity is wrapped up solely in their calling. John showed me that a life of faith could also be a life of fun and not to take yourself too seriously at times.
I remember years ago that pastors were encouraged not to have too many close friends in ministry. What a load of nonsense! All of us need friends. The journey of Christian leadership is hard enough at times without having those good friends who can speak truth into your life.
John Fletcher, former AOG pastor in Paisley and now retired in Australia, was my closest friend for many years in ministry. He was like an older brother to me. We worked side by side in leadership in AOG Scotland and travelled to several countries ministering together.
His wisdom and friendship were invaluable to me. All of us need confidants and friends in ministry. Can I encourage you today to find someone (if you don’t already have such a person) that can speak into your life, in the safety of a trusted friendship?
John 1:6 says, “There came a man sent from God whose name was John”. I feel extremely blessed and privileged to have known four men sent from God whose names were John! I am what I am in God today as a result of their influence on my life.