[this was sent on Dec.7th, 2005 to the subscribers of the subversive underground e-newsletter list]
METAPHORS by Keith Giles
I was corresponding with someone this week about metaphors for ministry and for understanding our own calling.
Metaphors help us to take a step back and look at our experiences and our thoughts from a different vantage point. Sometimes this helps us to discover things that we never would have thought of before.
In this week's latest blog update, "Apple and Oranges", I take a look at how an apple tree's purpose and natural design can teach us about the Church and how it grows, etc.
As far as extended metaphors go, on a ministry level, the one that God seems to keep giving me is more along the lines of a military one.
About two years ago I received a prophetic word from a guy at church that confirmed what I was asking God that same week (about whether or not to launch a new compassion ministry at our church), and the word was about me being a "Pointman" in our church, leading the people into new territory and being careful to lead them through the dangers and towards the place that God (our commanding officer) was sending us.
Of course, the whole idea of being a pointman kinda scared the heck out of me. In real life, a pointman is the guy who takes the bullet if the unit walks into an ambush. He's the guy who had better know where they're going or else everyone will get lost in the jungle and die.
I figured if God was taking this metaphor seriously then I should take it seriously too.
Just this last Sunday the same guy gave me another word. The funny thing is, I knew he was going to have another word for me before he did. And no, this guy isn't one of those 'prophetic' kind of people who is always going around handing out words. In all the time I've known him, (2 years or more), this word on Sunday was only the second thing he'd ever shared with me.
The word he gave me was about my family being like indigenous 'special forces' units within the community. There were a lot of little details, like how we're part of the community, specialized and equipping others in the community to join with us, and teaching them to train others, etc. It was exactly about what we're doing now by starting a missional house church here in a new community.
How can I discount this sort of thing? Such a specific word of encouragment at such a perfect time and place. Like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Spencer Burke ("Making Sense Of Church") talks about having a personal metaphor. For example, he said he felt like he was a firestarter. His calling and gifting were related to helping others get on fire for what God was calling them to do.
I think I'm like a magnifying glass. I help people to see things that they might not otherwise see and to magnify the urgency or amplify the vision that God is giving them.
Everyone has a specific calling, gifting or purpose within the Body of Christ. It's God's promise and His plan to build up the Church.
Our part is to understand who we are specifically made to be and then to fulfill that calling.
So, class, the question for today is...
"What's your metaphor?"