Equipping Without Subduing (#439)

I get asked a lot of questions about elders and the five-fold ministry gifts of Ephesians 4. We know how religion has captured these terms and used them for top-down managers that often abuse people wittingly or unwittingly by thinking they have the responsibility to command others in Jesus' name. But what are they in the new creation? Instead of managing people or systems, the real fulfillment of these gifts is to equip others to live freely in Jesus, not to subdue them with their own wisdom or agendas. Our ministry contracts take people down this road all the time by making it more about the gift and their need for a following, rather than serving those who want to know him.

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Kenya Update for the Outreach in West Pokot
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  1. I see these as mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 as characteristics of a believer and each believer operating in these 5 elements at anyone given time. They are offices as the church has made them, nor are they things we elect people to. It is a major problem in most local assemblies and has caused more problems than good.

  2. Hi Wayne, I loved hearing this podcast AFTER I had seen your lifestream blog Kenya update so I knew what was coming!

  3. Thank you to the couple who responded so generously to the urgent need in Kenya. Wow!!!

  4. Hi, Wayne, I loved the broadcast today, I received some sad news my pastor’s wife has developed an early form of dementia. He is moving back to his home in Pasadena. We have a very small congregation, no family who are at a crossroad whether to continue or transfer to a larger less personal congregation. I am growing to sense that God is leading to go it alone for a while. I do not know what to do yet, just waiting for further discussions with Jesus.

  5. Maybe the verse should read…. “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, THAT HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS. And he gave THE apostle; and THE prophet, and THE evangelist, and THE shepherd and THE teacher, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of service, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
    THE Word, Jesus Christ, fills ALL things, in this case He fills ALL the body (not just some) with THE Apostle, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Prophet, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Evangelist, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Shepherd, Jesus Christ. And He fills ALL the body with THE Teacher, Jesus Christ through HIS Spirit that abides IN ALL who are His. Why? Because God is NOT a respecter of persons and He desires that we ALL might be made perfect and be built up into the fullness of His Son… “to equip the saints for the work of ministry [service], for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge [perfect knowing] of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to GROW UP IN EVERY WAY INTO HIM who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:12-15 ESV – emphasis added)

  6. Wayne – In the seventies the young people in our church choose to get married rather than attend Uni or pursue qualifications because they thought that Jesus was coming back soon.

  7. I have been blessed at the timing of this podcast. I have been growing in my knowledge of Jesus for many years. In the last three years God has brought some very significant closure to the pain from my childhood. I have been in missions for over twenty years on the admin and training side of things. Over the last year God has been stirring within me to see the body of Christ built up in Him. Over the last seven months people have been seeking me out to process their walk with God, to learn to recognize His voice, to receive encouragement and discipleship. The Lord gave me Ephesians 4:12-13 for several months now… and I couldn’t agree with you more, people do seek out the gifts when we choose the footsteps of Christ. I found that that when I share vulnerability all that God has done, it creates a desire to know this God who brought such transformation. I don’t care about a title. I would actually prefer not. People pedestal titles. Relational dynamics change. Intimacy can be lost. Thank you for sharing. This has been very encouraging to be able to put words to my process.

  8. I must admit the five fold ministry thing scares me a little. I have been told by so many people “X is my Gift with certainty! That may very well be true but I don’t see them being transformed once they have it figured out?
    Could it be that knowing what our gifts are is not what is important but in knowing Him and following his nudges we will automatically without realizing it be walking in the space He designed us for?
    This is a conversation I would love to Learn more about! Great podcast Wayne ! I love how This Kenya story is unfolding it tastes so much like Fathers work ! If I would resonate any more I may fall apart! Blessings to all you fellow travelers !!!

  9. Hello Wayne,

    Your podcast today touched a nerve with me – the cult topic. Though we were always taught about cults, nobody would have ever admitted that we were a cult. And it brings a lot of pain. As soon as you talked about the separation of family and the choices that are forced by the elders, I got really angry. I realize my anger is very often because of a deep pain, and I know now that often Father uses circumstances to refine me; when the heat comes on in a certain area it means the slag will get skimmed off. And that can be a long process. I know I am still very sensitive in the area of religion; I’ve been hurt deeply there. But how do you deal with the conflict inside when the people who try to control you are people you care deeply about? Its definitely not easy.

    I was encouraged to hear you still wrestle with choices in this journey. If you had all the answers I would back off really fast! And I don’t claim to know anything about what the bible talks about each of us having gifts or how we should use them, but I tend to agree with you, Wayne; the title-bearing people I would shy away from. Harvey, I agree with you, following his nudges is more important than titles, because once you have a title there will be expectations. Better to let others tell you what your gifts are according to how you make them feel than tell others what you’re good at. I might not be very good at it yet, but I know this: the more I can relax into Father’s love, the more I get to enjoy this journey.

  10. Sarah I really appreciated your words. I was brought up in a very strict “rule based” home. God was someone you feared rather than an endearing presence one could run to. Now as a family we’re walking through the “shadow of death”…my father is dying. Along with some personal trials…I feel as though I have my plate full!! (smile) The interesting thing is that when someone moves into such a stage of weakness, the fear becomes strong..rather than resting. I know it’s complex…pain and medication impacting the mind…all these factors at the end of life sometimes reflecting the brokenness that has gone before. As Jesus is walking me through this I’m learning that I can hide under His “wings” (like the chicks). Thanks for your encouraging words as I know I’m not alone in walking through hurt and learning to more deeply lean into Him. “How do you deal with the conflict….ppl you care deeply about?” As I walk through this, that question is one I’m holding before Jesus. His wisdom is strong and I’m learning about how gently patient He is. He’s willing for the process to take the time it needs.

  11. Hi Wayne. Enjoyed this conversation on equipping without subduing. My opinion to add to the conversation is that we should simply focus on John 13: 34-35. And when presented by God to use our gifts in loving those who he is bringing into our lives (without subduing), we should use them. I think it’s human nature to want to take over a situation and gather into a more organized structure, but I believe we must resist that in order to facilitate freedom in the lives of those we are being asked to love, and let God organize.

    I like the cruise ship metaphor I heard somebody use, in which God is captain and leading the ship where it needs to go. It’s God who has partitioned parts of the ship, certain people to work in certain specific areas and set aside chunks of time for certain activities and gatherings and work that needs to be done, so that the ship travels to it’s destination in a smooth manner at the Captains will. We passengers are free to enter into these spaces and decide if those places are the area that we want to be in, but are free to explore. But all of us are simply passengers who are simply mingling aboard the ship and interacting with each other and using our gifts to love those who we are interacting with. But the organization on board the ship has already been established by and being led by God, therefore, when we attempt to subdue, we are trying to re-organize what has already been planned and we restrict the freedom of movement about the ship.

    So, in conclusion, I am of the opinion that we have been equipped with gifts in order to use them as we freely mingle aboard the ship of our lives, to love those that God has us interact with, leaving any subduing (of the heart) to God.

  12. Just finished listening to Equipping Without Subduing and leaving a comment. Right after finishing the podcast, I got into some bookwork duties and pressed play to continue listening to The Message on audiobook. I had no idea where I had left off on that audio book, but what began to play was Matthew 23. Matthew 23 8-12 is a perfect response to Equipping Without Subduing:

    8-10 “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

    11-12 “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    (sigh)(relaxing). I absolutely love when God’s writing to us, fits perfectly with a discussion going on. 🙂

  13. Dear Wayne

    I’ve wanted to hear you talk about the 5 fold ministry for ages. you finally did. Without wanting to pressuring you though Wayne, i would love to hear more. The 5 fold ministry is a topic I hold very much dear to my heart. It is a topic I’m very much exploring and longing to understand, each role as it truly fits within the body of Christ (Jesus world wide church). just like the Scripture says they are for the building up of the church. they are a vital part in god’s design. I simply love Christ and his body, so if it matters to him, it matters to me.

    wow Scott Cissel, what an incredible dialog with papa there. 😀

    I don’t mean to be the devils advocate here though, I just seem to do this neutrally without even trying often. I just love to test things, like test everything. To see if it can stand and see what falls down to understand the truth deeper. I completely believe and agree with what mat 23:8-12 literally says. Not to let anybody control us or control others. But what about where peter says in 2 peter 3:2 to follow the commands of the apostles or the commands of god through the apostles. any thoughts anyone?



  14. Hi Dion. To me it does not appear to be specific as to the commands. It would be easy to take this as carte blanche as it were and plug in any old thought I may have which can end up rather abusive fairly quickly. Jesus was pretty clear about loving God and your neighbor. (Notice the next question came “And who is my neighbor? People love to look for loopholes). When someone pulls up with a special delivery of a truckload of oughts and ought nots and wants to dump them on your life…… Walk away quickly! Jesus apparently has all the time in this world as well as the next to work with me and mostly just enjoys hanging out with me. Stunning by my way of thinking but true. I’m not exactly sure what He’s getting out of the deal but I am certainly a grateful recipient on my end. He’s the God who cannot speak but has a lot to say.

    Blessings my friend.


  15. Hi Dion, and other fellow sojourners,

    Along the way, I have found a right large number of helps, like other’s books, that might seem to be individual on their own, but fall into place when seen in the Big Picture, revealing other’s journeys too.

    One help is the koine Christian Bible; published in the 90’s, but, sadly, no longer available. In reference to your post and question above, here is their translation of 2Pet.3:2:

    “…so that you might remember Declarations that have been declared beforehand by the pure prophets and the Direction from your envoys who were dispatched by the Master and Savior.”

    Notice, no word “command” at all, but the words Declarations and Direction; translating the two most common Greek words in question here. “Command” is not used in their translation at all! This isn’t just some “liberal” streak in them, as I doubt that there was anything liberal about this Arkansas group who put that translation together. Their interest was accuracy and consistency.

    How does this play out? If you are underway, and stop and ask me how to get to your destination, and I give you directions, are you seeing them as commands, or simply as friendly help to get somewhere? If your map or cell or gps is showing you where and how to go to get to your destination, are you seeing them as commands? It even sounds funny, as in “My gps commanded me to go left.”

    But haven’t most of our translations made the Father’s words so? I’ve even heard them called “his blessed commands”! I am more than willing to bet that in any Sunday AM group study on the subject of Love, the comment will surely surface: “Well, we ARE commanded to love.” In any study I have been in with our groups, I have never heard anyone question the impossibility of that as command!
    Replace “commands” with the more correct “directions”? Like my friend said “It changes how I see everything!” It certainly did for me!

    Dion, I hope that this might provide some cool relief for your very valid concerns. Thank you for expressing them.

    Much love, rob

  16. Wow! Some interesting conversations going on. Mark Warner, I agree with you about running the opposite direction if somebody dumps do’s and dont’s on you. It seems we can’t really fathom the idea that Jesus wants to relate to us all individually instead of someone who is a better Christian telling us what Jesus wants. I sometimes wonder too what he gets out of the relationship with me, but I certainly get a lot of pleasure from relationship with him.

    As to the command to love, I like the idea of changing it to directions. I stay away from quoting bible verses at anyone, because I know firsthand how differently people interpret the bible, and I’ve had too many commands thrown at me when I don’t follow someone’s interpretation. I for one am starting to understand it as a love story whereas I used to see it only as condemnation no matter what I read. It depends on our perspective when we read it.

    Sue, you post reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago. It’s called “Learning To Lean”. I will try to post it on here so you can read it. It helped me through a very painful part of my journey.

    Learning to Lean

    Oh, God, I need to feel you now
    My heart is filled with pain.
    There are questions that I want to ask
    And my tears fall like rain.

    This trial it seems will never end
    Please help me to endure.
    I feel your presence with me, God
    Of your great love I’m sure.

    God, who am I to question why
    I need to grow so fast?
    Though I don’t understand your ways
    Your word will always last.

    You say your ways are not my ways
    Nor are my thoughts like yours.
    Yes, Lord, I’ll put my trust in you
    And lean on you this hour.

    Oh God, my heart is breaking now
    And my eyes flow with tears.
    Please put your arms around me, God
    And draw me oh, so near.

    Please speak to me and comfort me
    Assure me all is well.
    Amidst the pain I have a joy
    And of your love I tell.

    The battle rages on so strong
    And I am very weak.
    But I’ll submit to your will, Lord
    And through me let you speak.

    Oh, God, I am so glad I’m yours
    I’m glad you set me free!
    When this life’s done I’ll be with you
    All through eternity!

    All praise and glory to my King!
    Jesus, he gave me everything!

    -Sarah Wall-
    May 18, 2008

  17. Thanks mark, robert and sara for your comments. Declarations and directions, make sense. If the person knows what they are talking about, and we need to know, we do well to listern (particulary if we don’t know). like the direction exsample, it doesnt mean we have to go that way but it could be consided silly not to heed those words if we were in a town and know Idea where we were.

    there is a passage where paul is talking about testing all prophecy. I have learnt to to swap the word prophecy with influance. That is any attempt from anyone to influance my life, I must test the direction. some times it can be done in the blink of an eye. Other times it may take much pray in search of more confirmation.

    the important question to keep asking ourselves and papa is, is this information for me?

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