In 2002, I accepted a position on staff at a church in Anchorage, Alaska. Like many churches, this church had a cluster of values around which it focused its ministry. Their values were biblical and all made total sense to me—except for one—the value they called “Spiritual Partnership.”
When I first saw that value, my heart beat a little faster. I didn’t completely understand what spiritual partnership looked like, but if it was what I thought it might be, I had longed for it for many years. I had recognized long ago that so many of our relationships within the church, and even among close Christian friends, are very superficial and don’t result in life change.
Well, I was about to discover what spiritual partnership looked like, because shortly after my arrival at that church, a man walked up to me and introduced himself. He said, “Hi Rob, my name is Ed. I’ve been praying for a spiritual partner and I was wondering if you would be willing to partner with me spiritually?”
I said, “Ed, I’d be happy to, but to be honest, I’m not sure I know what that means.” Ed laughed and admitted, “Neither do I!” So, I said, “Well, let’s start meeting and we’ll figure it out.” And that’s exactly what we did.
For the next five years, Ed and I met every Friday afternoon for a hike or to snowshoe. And as we trudged along a mountain path or through a snowy forest, we prayed together, shared our joys and challenges with each other, and voiced what God was doing in our lives.
Both Ed and I began to grow in our walk with the Lord in ways that would not have been possible without a spiritual partner. I got so excited about this new-found spiritual discipline that I started forming spiritual partnerships with other men too, like Greg, Paul, Jay, Perry, and Ron. Through meeting with each other, we all experienced profound growth in Christ.
Spiritual partnership is such an integral part of my walk with the Lord today, that I’ve never been without a spiritual partner these past 18 years.
Recently, I challenged the men and women in the small group that I lead to establish a spiritual partnership or Comrade in Arms relationship with another person. And especially, in this season of social distancing, we need such relationships and can launch and nurture them via the phone or other device.
Here are some tips on meeting with your spiritual partner:
- Men meet with men and women with women. (This is both for reasons of propriety and effectiveness.)
- View this as a mutual and reciprocal discipling relationship.
- Be open and transparent with each other and maintain strict confidentiality. Give each other permission to ask “tough questions.” (See examples below.)
- Encourage each other from the Word.
- Pray with and for each other.
- When possible, spend time with each other in real life. (Obviously, this is a challenge right now. But consider meeting safely to go for a walk, or hike, etc.)
- Your times together need not be structured. If you prefer more structure, consider doing a read-through of a book of the Bible.
Here are some examples of “tough questions.” These are never intended to embarrass or heap guilt on someone, but to “spur” each other on in our relationship with Christ. Some of the questions are appropriate anytime, others are more designed for a specific circumstance.
- “What has God been doing in your life lately?”
- “What’s one thing that’s preventing you from enjoying God fully?”
- “In what ways are you currently leading your wife/husband and family closer to the Lord?”
- “What has God been showing you from His Word lately?”
- “How well are you loving your wife/husband right now?”
- “What are your greatest joys/challenges in your walk with Christ right now?”
- “What’s one thing you’d like to see Christ do in your life right now?”
- “In what ways is Christ using you to model His love and character to others?”
Notice that all of the above questions are open-ended (i.e., they can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.”) This is important. Notice the difference between asking someone: “Are you reading God’s Word regularly?” (that’s closed-ended and can be perceived as judgmental). Versus, “What has God been showing you from His Word lately?” (Open-ended and non-judgmental).
How to Invite Someone to Partner with You Spiritually
Ask the Lord to place someone on your mind. Then, simply share this article with them and ask them if they’d consider meeting as spiritual partners. It really is that easy!
If you’re married, naturally you want to be a spiritual partner with your spouse, but even so, men need a spiritual man in their lives, and women need a spiritual woman in their lives.
Especially during this time in which we’re asked to practice social distancing, we need fellowship and we need to continue to grow in the Lord. To do that we need others. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) May you too, experience the joy and growth in spiritual partnership!
On another note…
On Monday, April 6th through Friday, April 10th, I’m running a free eBook promotion on my new book, Transformed! – True Stories of Broken Lives Mended.
This book is simply a collection of stories from men and women who’s lives have been profoundly changed by Christ. My intent with the book is to encourage followers of Christ to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others by means of these stories. Just click the link and the eBook is yours free (but only Monday through Friday this week). I simply ask that you leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!