We Value … Partnership
Partnership: Participating WITH
This post is part of a six-part series, written by a leader within the convention, on our core values. Our core values show who we are and what motivates us.
One of the core values of the International Baptist Convention is partnership. I don’t know what you think of when you hear that word. If we were honest, I think we would have to admit that our thoughts would typically go to a couple of uses of that word that may not completely express the real meaning behind this important concept.
As a pastor, I receive numerous invitations every week to “partner” with someone. I am told that there is a need and that partners are being sought to help meet this need. Now, I have no doubt that in the parts of the world from which these requests often come, there are significant needs. However, because I don’t know the person who is writing, I am left uncertain whether or not they are the best equipped or motivated to meet that need. As you might guess, I am rarely inclined to accept that opportunity to partner with that person, even though there may be a very real need.
Of course, I have also been guilty of looking to my ministry partners, especially those organizations with whom we partner, as simply resources from which I can draw. I ask about the benefits of our partnership and have even been guilty of asking (even if indirectly), “What can you do for me?” I want to gain from the partnership and want to know clearly what I might gain if I enter into this partnership. In these types of conversations, I may find myself doing a cost / benefit analysis of the partnership to determine if I gain more that I would be giving.
How different the biblical concept of partnership is.
Writing to the church in Philippi, Paul writes: “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5). Looking at these verses, I find that Paul’s understanding of partnership is very different than the ways in which we may see that term expressed in our day.
Partnership is expressed within the context of relationship.
Paul knows those with whom he sees himself in partnership! They are not strangers from whom he simply wants to receive something; these are people with whom he has walked and been engaged in ministry.
Partnership is first and foremost a spiritual concept.
Paul prays for those with whom he is in partnership. He knows there is no cost / benefit analysis which drives the partnership, but rather there is a spiritual bond which drives him to his knees on behalf of those whom he remembers fondly and knows will face both challenges and joys. His prayer for the Philippians is one of the clearest signals of true partnership.
Partnership benefits all involved.
Partnership is never a one-way street. Paul is grateful for the support of the Philippians, but he also knows how they have benefitted from his ministry. The lives of Lydia, the Philippian jailor, and untold others have been forever changed because of Paul’s willingness to sacrifice and to share the Gospel wherever God led him.
When you read that the IBC has partnership as a core value, I hope you will not begin a cost / benefit analysis in your mind. Instead, I hope there will be faces of individuals who come to mind spread throughout the world. People with whom you are in relationship. People who care about you and your church. People who pray for you on a regular basis and know the challenges and joys which life brings. I hope you have experienced the benefits, not because someone wanted something in return, but because that’s who we are. We are partners in the Gospel.
by Nick Howard
IBC Vice President and Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Wiesbaden, Germany