Going Farther Together: A confession and a conviction

Dec 18, 2015 | Sean Cullen

I have a confession. On mission, I’m drawn to fast over far.

There’s an African proverb that says that if you want to go somewhere fast, go alone, but if you want to go somewhere far, go together.

I believe that there is strength in fast—being action-oriented, valuing progress, and seeking to just get things done—but it can also be a weakness, if the cost is a lack of time made to journey with others.

I know that this bent towards fast is often true of me. It’s often been true of Power to Change as well.

We have a compelling vision.

Together, we long for the day when no student graduates without engaging with the life-changing message of Jesus. It’s the urgency of this vision that drives us forward. It’s this passion to see that day become a reality that causes my heart to want to go so fast.

But every student engaged with the gospel is a far vision. Deep down I have a growing conviction that there is no way we’ll accomplish this on our own. We must go towards that vision with others.

With this in mind, about a year ago I began reaching out to other National Directors of Canadian student ministries: Intervarsity, Navigators, Athletes in Action, Youth Alpha, RZIM. As I have gotten to know these other leaders, I’ve discovered that we share an openness to journeying together more than we ever have before.

We gathered last week at a somewhat historic prayer meeting.

The six of us gathered to pray together and for one another. We asked God to give us a vision for how he could use us—together—to reach this generation of students with the gospel and raise them up for a lifetime of impact in Jesus’ name.

At the end of our time, we were greatly encouraged. We sensed that God is indeed doing something special in knitting us together for something much bigger than any one of us could accomplish alone. I appreciate each of these leaders. We share a common heart for knowing Jesus and making him more known.

What makes partnership possible?

I’ve spent much time this year reflecting on what makes partnership possible. This recent prayer retreat reminds me of seven things you and I need when seeking to journey far with someone else:

1. A unified purpose

You need to know that the far place that you and your partner are going towards is in the same direction. It goes without saying then that in order to partner with someone, it needs to be clear where you are going.

2. Value your differences

Unity and uniformity are not the same thing. One of the great challenges in seeking unity of purpose is not letting it descend into a uniformity of methodology. Understanding what makes us each unique and valuing those uniquenesses is critical to journeying far together.

3. Humility

You must be willing to listen to your partner’s ideas and understand their perspective. You must maintain a posture that says you know that you are not the one with all of the good ideas. This is especially important when leaders come together since leaders are often expected to know all the answers. In humility, that’s something you must surrender.

4. Clarity on your own strengths and weaknesses

What do you uniquely have to offer? Seeking to be all things to all people will quickly cause you to get lost in partnership. But if you are self-aware enough to know what you bring to the table and where you need help, the value of partnership becomes much more real.

5. Vulnerable communication

You need to talk: honestly, frequently, authentically. This takes courage. It’s tempting to want to just put on a brave face—hiding your struggles and places of shame—but being vulnerable communicates trust, and trust is essential to staying the course on a far journey.

6. Patience

Going far together doesn’t mean that you never go fast, but it does require that you release going fast as something essential.

7. A heart of love

All of these things can be wrapped up in a one concept: love. If we love one another, than we will seek to work together. It’s not just what God enables us to accomplish that brings him glory, it’s also how we go about doing it. The very act of loving each other as we work together gives him much glory.

We’re called to partnership for a purpose.

In John 17, Jesus prays for his church; that includes you and me. He prays that as a church we would love one another for a purpose. He calls us to be unified in purpose so that the world may know that he is God.

Loving, unified partnership helps the world know that he is God.

When groups that should naturally be in competition with one another unite in love, it says something to the world about the difference that Jesus makes.

Pray with me, as we long together for the day when every student is brought face-to-face with the transforming message of Jesus, that we would be a group known for our love as we partner with others to make Jesus known.

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About the Author

Sean Cullen

Sean was our previous National Director of Power to Change – Students. He lives in Edmonton with his wife Nancy, and five children.

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