Someone very special to me is dying. He is going home soon. And I’ve found myself grieving so many things.
He is a humble and beautiful man. A shepherd and leader of thousands. Honest and transparent. His life and words have transformed our culture and faith. He knows the Holy Spirit. He is a genuine follower of Jesus and the Word. Simply, he walks with God. For the Body of Christ, he is a true Elder. A man who walks in the wisdom and Love of God and leads others to know God too. He mentors hundreds of pastors and churches. He speaks the oracles of God. He is a pillar and a father. We need him.
Without him, my life would be thoroughly different. Years ago he spoke at with the leaders of my church in Australia and he took time to chat personally with me. That conversation is one of the things that gave me the courage to move across the world. He is the reason I ended up at the church where I met my husband. Without his influence in my life, I would literally be living a different life. He has walked in my home town and in my new city. This man represents a part of my life that no one else spans. I need him.
My heart is unraveling. I don’t want him to go. I am grieving that the Body is losing his earthly influence of love and leadership. And even more: I am grieving that he is just the first of my mentors to go home to eternity. His coming departure is forcing me to look at my aging leaders and see the future. They will all be going home in time. I feel like I’m becoming an orphan. The void of their leadership in my life and in our community will be massive.
Last night I had a vivid dream and he was in it. We were dancing at a wedding-type gathering. Like a father and child, we were dancing. Suddenly he was gone. I looked around frantically and fell to the ground crying. He was gone and I was not ready. Then his son came and crouched beside me. He started praying for me and prophesying. The dream suddenly ended and I woke up.
As a child I was taught to respect my elders. And I do. Deeply. Almost to a fault. But there is another important lesson: Learn from your elders how to be an elder. Each generation is eldership in training. It is our destiny. Every one of us will age and have the opportunity to be wisdom shepherds.
As this beautiful and incredible Elder prepares to move into glory, my heart is stirred to consider something that I’ve been avoiding. A concept I’ve been rejecting. That I need to grow up and lead. In my sphere. In my little life circle. There is deep need for shepherding mentors and God is looking for those who will lead for Him.
In my dream, this man’s son stepped in and filled his father’s role of praying and speaking the words of Yahweh. It was both comforting and disconcerting. Comforting that someone stepped into the role. Disconcerting that it was someone my age. The reality is, the baton of leadership gets passed to the next generation whether they are ready or not.
We need to be ready. In fact, we should be practicing it even now. I feel my heart stirred by the Holy Spirit: Choose now to shepherd and mentor. Choose now to guide with wisdom. Choose now to know and speak God’s Word. Choose now to see and prophecy. Choose now to stand for Truth and Love. Choose now to care for the Body. Choose now to be a pillar.
The need for shepherd leaders is great. There will never be too many. When it comes to wisdom shepherding, we need every hand on deck. All sleeves rolled up. Every heart and mind engaged. The need for tender, humble, wise shepherds is unending and unceasing.
This is a call for all of us. Me and you. All too soon. Even today.
I exhort the elders among you: shepherd the flock of God that is among you… (1 Peter 5:1a & 2a ESV)