Over the past few weeks I have really felt the joy of living in community with those I lead and am in ministry with. There is such a distinct difference in what last year looked like compared to this year. Night and day. In both my personal life and the way my ministry here at the Stone has been flourishing lately. There is no secret formula or type of talent I have acquired. Living amongst those I lead has been the reason and I want to explain why.
Community is Influence
Over the past two months I have started an MC (missional community) or small group if you will with people in my ministry, an LTG with my band guys (basically a space to confess sin that is in my personal life and have others hold me accountable), and have become more intentional with how I care and pursue those who I do ministry with. I believe that this has made this season of life so fruitful for me. It has given others a chance to see the real me and in return feel the freedom to open up about there personal life. I have learned that one of the biggest ways to inspire those around you to follow and live a life of servanthood is by letting them see how much you need Jesus as a leader too. I am not the only one allowed to pastor my band, so are they. It creates this culture of togetherness and ownership within our whole team. This has allowed me to go from a stranger with a guitar who sings songs on Sunday to “Efrain, our worship pastor and goofy friend”. When I show up on a Sunday morning and see all of our leaders setting up poles and speakers you can feel this sense of “I am fighting for you in whatever way possible”. As cheesy as this will be, I often have this picture in my head from Lord of the Rings that constantly keeps occurring in my mind when we prepare for our worship gatherings. Knowing that each one of us there in the room is for one another and for students hearts to be changed.
We know we are going into battle with the enemy and fighting for Jesus to be glorified that morning, and worship is our weapon. We meet as a group of leaders and talk through the morning. Sometimes I share where my heart is and how they can pray for me or I read a scripture that God has impressed on my heart that week. Then all 40 of us scatter through out the whole room and begin to pray for who is leading that morning, our Students, and that Jesus would get the glory He rightly deserves.
As soon as we finish and prepare to head out of our meeting to hang out with students, there is this mutual declaration of camaraderie and excitement. Not because we are in the moment or in an emotional high. Instead, we are known by each other. We feel the weight of each others burdens and know that we are not charging into battle with strangers, but brothers and sisters. We are ready to pursue students, play ping pong, eat some donuts, and if we lean in enough… talk about how their heart is really doing. Every leader plays a pivotal part in OUR ministry other than just setting up and tearing down. We communicate this through living life with them outside of just a short Sunday morning. As this has quickly become a part of our DNA at Downtown Students, I have graciously been given influence over our team. Not because of my talent or job title, but because I pour into their lives Monday through Saturday. I give of my time and I’m present in their lives to simply listen and do life with them. Not because it’s my job or what I must do, but because I love them and care for them the same way that Jesus cares and pursues me.
This is eternal influence that has no limits or restraints. Leading from this place of influence has shown me such freedom from trying to perform from a stage and prove myself. It takes away the glamour and breaths authenticity. I can be myself and not worry about what expectations are there because I am known amongst the people who I know.