Walking with Giants
Some Giant Redwoods are the largest trees on earth and over 3,000 years old.
Mentors and allies in the Christian Ministry
C.S. Lewis, the formidable author, broadcaster and Christian apologist is often quoted as saying, “We read to learn we are not alone.” While he may or may not have actually said this, it is certainly true to Lewis’ way of thinking. But it is also true to life. We all have an instinctive need to connect with others and reading their works can get us at least part the way there.
Literary geniuses like Lewis and many others can help us connect with what we ourselves have felt and thought but never quite had the words to express.
This is one way of walking with giants. Many giants of the past and present have expressed themselves in writing, passing on their knowledge and experience and giving us access to their inmost world. I habitually benefit from such giants in my own life and ministry.
Walking in a forest of giants
Both in my extensive physical library and online research I have at my fingertips the very best of Christian theology, biography, research and debate, not to mention the quality fiction and non-fiction works gathered from the wider world. It’s like walking in a forest of giant redwoods. I am in awe of the richness of historical and contemporary mentors and allies available to me through their writing. Pastors, Christian leaders and church members do well to cultivate such relationships which will challenge and spur them on.
We all, consciously or unconsciously, are standing on the shoulders of giants. Those who have gone before leaving behind a vast legacy. They have fought historic battles, the spoils of which we continue to enjoy today: the battle for the true identity of Christ in the early church, the battle for divine intimacy in the Middle Ages, the battle for gospel truth in the Protestant Reformation, any other countless battles for the enlightened freedoms we enjoy today.
The era of global harvest
I think of the early Pentecostals shunned for their “speaking in tongues” and belief in supernatural signs and wonders. Also, nearer to our own era, I think of the 20th Century evangelists who were champions of the faith: Billy Graham, Reinhard Bonnke and others who contended for the simplicity of the Faith and unashamed proclamation of the gospel. They ministered to the world and grew the church in an era of global harvest.
All these heroes of the faith have handed to us the very platforms upon which we stand. This is all so obvious that I am sometimes staggered by the arrogance of those who think they can reinvent the wheel as if the history of the Church in general, or the particular church in which they minister, only began the day they took up office. This is the arrogance of immaturity. It is an isolating and miserable place to be.
Contrast this with those who actively seek out not just the giants of yesteryear, but the giants of today. Giants exist in every city, town or village. The 90-year old house-bound lady who is a champion of intercession. The aged minister who still burns the midnight oil searching out the deep things of God. The young warrior who, like David, seeks the Goliaths of our age who defy the armies of the living God. The pioneers who blaze a trail for Christ to reach the homeless, the loveless, the confused, the unevangelised and the rejected. The innovators, the reformers and those sold out to Jesus.
Find yourself some guides
If you want to avoid loneliness in Christian life and ministry, find yourself some guides, those who have been there already and can help you go faster and further to where you want to be. Modern day spiritual giants are not necessarily feted on the front pages of Christian magazines, or those who have bestselling books, or the most followers on social media. Giants are those who have something to say, something to pass onto you. They wish for nothing more than for you to go further than they ever did, and to achieve even greater things in your life.
True guides are mentors and allies. This is what we need in these days of professional jealousy, personal ambition and competitiveness in ministry. But a new generation is rising up. looking for authenticity. This generation is ready to listen and to learn from honest mistakes their mentors have made as much as the reasons they have succeeded. Don’t walk alone. Find yourself a couple of giants, mentors who will walk with you as you walk with them.