We thank God for Ray C. Stedman, Joe Aldrich, Luis Palau, and other wonderful Christian leaders and mentors who have demonstrated to us the truth of Jesus' words:
You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all (Mark 10:42-44).
According to Jesus, Spirit led or spirit driven believers and Christian leaders are first and foremost a "slave of all."
What does it mean to be Spirit-led or Spirit-driven? It is the opposite of doing things our own way. For instance, the Spirit of the Lord works in highly personal ways, but most of us want to use the latest methods. The Holy Spirit primarily focuses on transformation of the soul, but most of us seek the approval of others.
Through thirty years of vocational Christian ministry I (Tim) hate to admit how much has been the work of my flesh, not the ministry of the Spirit of God.
Still, I stand amazed that God is doing a wonderful work in our world today! He is building his church. People are being reached with the Gospel. Individuals, families, churches, cities, and nations are discovering in new ways the life of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God.
Along with coauthor Allen Quist, I long for more of my every moment to be filled by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I long for churches to be aware and empowered by the Lord of the church leading and freeing the church to enjoy his presence.
God has used Allen and me to serve the church through gifts of administration. It is our experience that those gifted in this way are often viewed as somehow void of the Spirit's working and power. It is as if the Holy Spirit empowers counselors with discernment, preachers with eloquence, evangelists with persuasion, but leaves other leaders to work in the flesh.
Our perspective is that the flesh (as described by the apostle Paul in the book of Galatians) potentially works through any Christian given to that power. Likewise, we believe the Spirit works in all believers.
It is our conviction that there is a tremendous need in the church today for those gifted in administration to be filled by the Spirit of Christ and to be allowed to serve the church with their giftedness so that, as Paul said to the churches of his day, the church may be orderly and productive (Titus 1:5; 1 Cor. 14:39-40).
After serving as a pastor for more than a decade, working in evangelism with the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association worldwide for more than a dozen years, and teaching at a biblical seminary for eight years, I (Tim) have discovered what I believe the church needs to rediscover: a life lived without (apart from) the filling of the Holy Spirit is highly conflicted and unproductive for the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Our desire, then, is to call the church back to exploring and obeying the voice of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in what we do and how we live and serve the church. Our prayer is that we may discover or rediscover the joy of the filling of the Spirit as a community of believers.
Many people have asked me (Allen) why I left banking, went to seminary, and dedicated so much of my time to ministry. Frankly, when I get tired, I sometimes ask myself the same question! Usually, though, I am having the time of my life.
One day, I was driving home from my day of work at the bank thinking about performance appraisals and I wondering what it would look like if I received one from God. I decided that, if I were God, I would fire me! I was busy doing stuff for God, but I was not in a hearing relationship with him. My thoughts were frequently about me doing well. I tried to be a spiritual hero in my story rather than a pawn in God's story. It was devastating--a time to do something drastic. My wife and I sold the stuff we did not need, including our house, and jumped in over our heads at seminary. We did not do it to get better at "doing stuff for God," but to let him teach us to live in him. That began our exciting adventure.
What is God doing now? Through attorney Troy Anderson, CPA Rick Battershell, and me, God launched a ministry to provide legal, tax, and management training for churches. God sends me church leaders who, like my wife and me, recognize that their individual lives or the life of their church is not working well and want help--usually through a leadership retreat. Jesus Christ varies my days with a peppering of opportunities, such as working with a church plant, as well as counseling, coaching, mentoring, and assisting new works for God. Now we believe God wants to use us to bring a message to the churches and church leaders through this book.
As Tim and I got to know each other and started spending many hours together a few years ago, we discovered that we have a common burden for the church of America. We hurt with the eighty percent of churches that are in a condition of plateau or decline (Win Arn). These churches either are not aware of their condition or they are aware and don't know the cause or the way out.