Seeing is believing
I have been thinking recently about what makes a pioneer. Is this something that can be taught or are you born a pioneer? In order to get my head round this question, I thought it would be good to start with what I consider to be the essential attributes of a pioneer. The first of these is about seeing. When I was a child I used to love watching the Krypton Factor. It was one of the few programmes we ever watched on ITV and I knew there was no possibility that I would ever amass more than a handful of points on such a gruelling and challenging quiz show. The one exception to this was the observation round. This was the one bit of the programme that I could actually do well at and sometimes even did better than some of the contestants! This is because I notice stuff. I don’t know why or how I developed this characteristic but for us long as I can remember I have been able to come away from a gathering of people and tell you what each one of them is wearing!
While studying for a recent assignment on the Pioneer Ministry Leadership Course with CMS, I came across a quote by John Stott who says in his study of Acts regarding chapter 17 verses 16-23, “…he (Paul) saw, he felt, he spoke. It all began with his eyes…The Greek verb used three times (16, 22, 23) is either theoreo or anatheoreo and means to ‘observe’ or ‘consider’. So he looked and looked, and thought and thought, until the fires of holy indignation were kindled within him” (p.290-1). In my pioneering ministry to spiritual seekers it has been the same. I remember surveying ‘the healing field’ at Kingston Green Fair, where we had pitched our tent for the first time, and just being overwhelmed with the sight of all these people who were searching for meaning and a touch from the divine. My reaction was similar to that of Paul in Athens – I felt righteous anger. I was angry that the church had withdrawn to leave these searching people in ignorance and hopelessness and I felt angry with the enemy for deceiving them with a pale imitation of what God offers them. But I also felt compassion. It was as if God was saying to me, “Look at all these, ‘like sheep without a shepherd.’” (Matt. 9:36)
In my experience any pioneering starts with seeing. There is then an emotional response that leads to a crying out to God. He is then faithful to show you what He wants you do. Can this be taught? I guess you can develop a sensitivity to God and His Holy Spirit that helps you to observe what is on His heart. However, it does require one to open your eyes! This may seem like an obvious point but the majority of Christians seem to wander around like the three monkeys, concerned that they will see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Even in church when we sing songs asking God to open the eyes of our heart, we have our eyes glued shut presumably lost in wonder and praise. If you want to see, you have to start looking, I mean really looking. But this should come with a health warning! You may not like what you see. It will disturb you and lead you into unknown territory. It is the first step on a wild ride that is exciting, painful and terrifying. It will involve criticism from others and the accompanying soul searching but is also fulfilling beyond anything this life can offer. So go on take the blind fold off and jump! Don’t worry, the outstretched arms will catch you and He will never leave you or forsake you. This is actually what He saved you for! So, go for it!