Back in the 80s, Sue and I lived for 9 years in an all things in common, Christian community. Imagine living in the same house with 30+ people. We ate together, spent evenings together, shared possessions and did life together – just like they did in the first church in Jerusalem (Acts 2 and 4). It was intense at times as any facades would slip sooner or later and the real you – warts and all – would be revealed! Selfishness and pride had to bow the knee to Jesus as hearts were shared, forgiveness requested and given and reconciliations emerged as the power of Jesus’ love took over.
We learned a lot about developing real, open relationships during that time and gained a solid grasp of what it meant to ‘put to death the flesh’ (Romans 8:13). Every Tuesday evening, the whole household would come together for the ‘agape meal’. We would start by pairing up to share hearts and if needed, confess sins to one another before taking the bread and wine and then enjoying a lovely meal. At times that was painful – especially if the relationship tension came from someone seated around the same table!
However, the freedom and sense of inner cleansing that used to come week by week was astounding. It was like having a regular spiritual detox. Darkness would be dispelled; the light of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness would flow; truth and righteousness would prevail and the freedom of inner transparency would lift us into a place of immense joy as we discovered afresh our identity as new creations in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We left that community in 1987 and for many years struggled to find the same desire to share hearts, in the churches, people and leaders we met with. Since launching Caleb 14:24 Ministries however, the Lord has brought wonderful brothers and sisters into our lives, with whom we have developed deep, accountable relationships. We now regularly meet up to share hearts and give an account of our lives and walk with the Lord. We call it sharing the ‘5 Gs’. That is, we share how our week/month has been in relation to the purity of our walk with 1) God; 2) Girls (or Guys); 3) Gold (finances); 4) Glory (prides or insecurities) and the daily 5) Grind of life. It’s refreshing, protecting and healing.
As a leader, do you have such relationships with other leaders? Here are 5 reasons why it’s important:
- Keeps our hearts protected and guarded (Proverbs 4:23) from deception and covert temptations.
- Provides a coaching opportunity to enable us to become the best we can be for ourselves, the people we serve and for the glory of the Lord we love.
- Enables us to realise that we are not as bad as we think we are and realise that others also struggle with such issues.
- A holy camaraderie develops and we pledge to watch each other’s backs. When we are isolated we become vulnerable to the whispers of the enemy.
- It sharpens the reality of our relationship with the Lord and improves our prayer and devotional life.
If you are an isolated leader and feel as if you have poured out you life to others but feel as if your own emotional needs have been neglected and that your relational tank is on empty, maybe see this as a God moment. Ask the Lord to bring to mind someone of the same sex that you can build a bridge with and then begin to reach out to them. Start lightly and go deeper as time brings trust and confidence.
Be stirred by the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you.” And the advice of James in James 5:16: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
If you have such relationships, why not share some of your experiences below in the comments section to encourage us all.
Martin Allen (Founding Director of Caleb Ministries)
PS: Why not also check out our Podcasts and Videos below.