How to Spot a Lone Wolf (And Not Become One)
In this article, we will discuss the importance of community and mutual submission in the context of Christian ministry. We will draw insights from the book of Acts, specifically Acts 15, and explore the example set by the Apostle Paul. Additionally, we will address the dangers of a lone wolf mentality and the need for close-knit relationships within the body of Christ.
The Challenge of Western Individualism
In Western culture, there is a unique challenge when it comes to working and ministering in community.
The prevailing mindset often emphasizes individualism and self-reliance.
However, as Christians, we are called to be part of a larger body and to work together for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
Learning from Acts 15
In Acts 15, we see the Apostle Paul engaged in a significant work among the Gentiles. He is reaching out to them directly, without requiring them to adhere to Jewish customs.
However, there are some who insist that the Gentiles must become Jews before they can fully participate in the Christian community. This leads to a debate and discussion among the early church leaders in Jerusalem.
What stands out in this passage is Paul’s willingness to submit himself to the leadership and the community.
Despite all that he has seen and experienced, he takes the time to come down to Jerusalem and subject himself to days of debate.
He allows James and Peter, the elder voices in Jerusalem, to take the lead in consolidating the contributions and making a decision.
Paul could have easily asserted his authority and said, “I told you so,” but instead, he takes the letter written by the apostles and shares it with the churches in the region of Galatia.
He even seems to contradict the letter in his later writings, such as when he discusses eating meat and circumcises Timothy on his second journey.
This shows us that even the great Apostle Paul recognized the importance of submitting to the leadership and the community.
He understood that he was not the only voice and that his convictions needed to be tested and discussed within the larger body of believers.
The Danger of a Lone Wolf Mentality
In Western Christianity, there is often a tendency to view any deviation from personal convictions as compromise.
We have a hard time accepting that others may have different perspectives or interpretations. This can lead to a lone wolf mentality, where individuals believe they alone hold the truth and must stand alone.
However, this mindset is not conducive to building a healthy and unified community. It can lead to pride, a need to prove oneself, and the formation of false communities centered around personal ideas.
While there may be times when we need to stand alone, it should not be the pattern of our lives.
The Importance of Close-Knit Community
As Christians, we are called to be in community with one another.
We are not meant to journey alone. It is crucial to have a close-knit community of believers who know what is going on in our lives and can provide support, accountability, and encouragement.
This community should be centered on Christ and focused on growing in Him together.
The Apostle Paul understood the value of close-knit relationships within the body of Christ. After completing his first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch and spent a significant amount of time with the disciples there.
They reported all that the Lord had accomplished and continued to invest in the lives of the believers.
Even when Paul and Barnabas embarked on their second journey, they remained connected to the community in Antioch.
They maintained strong relationships and sought the input and affirmation of the believers there. This demonstrates the importance of staying connected and having a support system, even when physically separated.
|Lone wolves tend to isolate themselves, avoiding engagement in group activities and discussions.
|Resistance to Collaboration
|Lone wolves resist input from others, believing their ideas are superior. They avoid collaboration and teamwork.
|They heavily rely on their own perspectives and abilities, showing reluctance to seek guidance or consider alternate viewpoints.
|Lack of Accountability
|Lone wolves evade being held accountable for their actions and decisions. They prefer to operate independently.
|They contribute sparingly to group efforts, focusing more on personal pursuits than collective endeavors.
The Size of a Close-Knit Community
When it comes to the size of a close-knit community, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
It will vary depending on the individual and their specific needs. However, it is essential to have at least a few significant relationships with people who know and understand us.
These relationships should be characterized by mutual submission, accountability, and a shared commitment to following Christ.
Slowing Down for Community
In our fast-paced society, it can be challenging to prioritize community and relationships.
However, it is crucial to slow down and make time for meaningful connections. This may require sacrificing some of our time in the harvest or other activities to invest in relationships centered on Christ.
Mutual Submission and Moving at God’s Pace
Mutual submission is a key aspect of healthy community.
It involves choosing to submit to one another for the sake of Christ and His glory. This means moving at the pace of the community and being willing to listen and learn from one another.
It requires humility and a recognition that we are not the sole authority or voice.
As we engage in pioneering work and ministry, it is essential to seek God’s direction within the context of community. We should be able to point to God’s leading and have others verify that God has spoken.
This dynamic of hearing God within the context of community ensures that our actions are aligned with God’s will and that we are not acting out of personal ambition or pride.
The Value of Sacrificing Harvest Time for Community
While it is important to be engaged in the harvest and actively share the gospel, we should not neglect the value of being in community.
Sacrificing some of our time in the harvest to invest in relationships centered on Christ is a worthwhile endeavor. It allows us to experience the grace of God in true brotherhood and deepens our growth in Christ.
The Joy of True Brotherhood
When we prioritize close-knit relationships within the body of Christ, we experience the joy of true brotherhood.
These relationships go beyond mere strategy and work. They involve sharing life together, praying together, and supporting one another. They provide accountability, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.
True brotherhood is a gift from God that we should not take for granted.
In conclusion, community and mutual submission are vital aspects of Christian ministry.
We can learn from the example of the Apostle Paul, who willingly submitted himself to the leadership and the community. A lone wolf mentality is not conducive to building a healthy and unified community. Instead, we should prioritize close-knit relationships within the body of Christ, where mutual submission, accountability, and growth in Christ can flourish.
Let us embrace the joy of true brotherhood and experience the grace of God in community.
Are you in? Ready to implement a strategy to multiply disciples, leaders, and churches in your City?
Ready to learn how to “do the stuff” of multiplying disciples, leaders, and churches?
Learn some starter tools and get coaching: