By Andy Terry
We celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, recalling that great day when our Lord loosed his Holy Spirit upon those in the upper room.
On that great morning, the church flashed from 120 souls gathered upstairs into the genesis of a body that would turn the known world upside down. With the sound of a violent wind and the manifestation of fire lighting upon individuals, those present were immediately empowered to speak words of light and life to those gathered in Jerusalem that day.
These fire-baptized saints would soon become a source of spiritual empowerment to others as the flame of the Gospel spread from Jerusalem to the “uttermost parts of the world”. Today, we in the family of God are keepers of that flame and recipients of that empowerment. But, have we ever stopped to think of how we might be used to empower others? Let’s consider how we could be channels of spiritual empowerment.
First, we pray: Not in a simple or Pollyannish way, but with purposeful intercession for those whom the Almighty has placed in our lives. We pray that they would grow daily in the love and wisdom of God. We pray for their spiritual wellness that includes a life of prayer, study and meditation on the Godhead. We also pray that WE would be the servants that God, living simultaneously Coram Deo and Coram Ecclesia.
We lead and we model: In our stewardship to those souls entrusted to us, we don’t rule from behind, but rather lead from the front. Saint Paul said it well when he encouraged the Corinthians to "Follow his example, as he followed the example of Christ". Someone else once said simply, "show me, don't tell me". Those being empowered should see a healthy and vibrant model of empowerment in motion. Though it might be an easy temptation to dismiss this as imitation, this very imitation is commended by Paul in his letters to the Ephesians and Thessalonians. This type of imitation is normative and will produce budding fruit in the lives of believers.
We mentor: Spiritual empowerment entails an investment of time in the lives of others. It requires us to sit, meet, talk, laugh, (sometimes) cry, and pray with others. This level of granularity gives us a view of their lives where we can discern through observation or listening, specific areas where they may be gifted or in the process of being gifted. With this, we can then begin to guide and direct them in the formation of these gifts.
We empower because we've been empowered: Saint Paul's letter to the Ephesians paints a spectacular picture of spiritual empowerment "in motion" in its 4th chapter. The people who have been prepared for spiritual works are set loose. The Christian community grows in unity and spiritual maturity; no longer easy prey to false doctrine. The process continues until the Christian community, the Body of Christ on earth is joined to its head in the heavenlies.
Its my prayer in this season after Pentecost, that brothers and sisters in the family of God may be leaders and mentors empowered by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God. Standing on that apostolic foundation laid upon the bedrock of Christ Jesus, we’ll build the Kingdom of God brick by brick, that indeed "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
The Rev'd Andy Terry is a deacon at Celebration Church in Fredericksburg, VA. Photo: Youth gather to pray for Archbishop Bob Duncan at last week's Provincial Assembly.