I had the privilege of teaching a short course on spiritual leadership recently. On the first day of class, a brother came up to me and introduced himself. He was a taxi driver and he was at a talk on spiritual friendship that I had given a few years ago.
I will never forget that talk because it almost didn’t happen. I had confused the time, thinking I was on at 7:30 pm when I was meant to come on at 7:30 am. When the organiser called me at 7:45 am to ask if I was on the way, well I was. I was in a taxi taking me to Penang airport to fly back to Singapore. I felt like a fool. I was so embarrassed. But they forgave me and asked me back again.
As is often the case, I wasn’t sure if the talk had borne any fruit. The folks seemed to enjoy the talk but I knew that didn’t mean a thing if the talk did not result in any life change. So I was extremely glad when this brother came up to me and said that he had been very touched by my talk on spiritual friendship. (He had come twice, the one where I didn’t show up, and the one where I did.) He had gone on to act on his convictions and had started a spiritual friendship group for his peers, fellow Christian taxi drivers.
He now has a fellowship of 13 people and they meet twice a month. They meet on Thursdays from 10:00 am till noon. He explained that those two hours were some of the more quiet ones for them, as there were fewer calls for taxis during that time. He said that many Christian drivers struggled with loneliness and often the churches where they came from couldn’t fully understand their struggles. They found that the support they received from their fellow Christian taxi drivers was life giving.
I was delighted by his report at many levels. I was glad that the talk I gave, though associated with embarrassment, had touched at least one life, and if it touched one, maybe it had touched others as well. I was glad that a group of people I know very little about, Christian taxi drivers, were walking together in spiritual friendship. I believe all believers need to follow Christ in the company of spiritual friends. And here is another group living out this truth. And I was glad this brother took the trouble to tell me how my talk had impacted him.
I keep this incident in mind as I prepare to give a talk on spiritual friendship in Petaling Jaya tomorrow night (August 21, 2015). I think this is the first or perhaps the second time I am presenting my key convictions on spiritual friendship in Malaysia. Not sure how many will turn up (it’s on a Friday night when many churches have their cell group meetings) or how the talk will go.
I am still a bit nervous when I give a talk in a new context. But I am less obsessed with visible results now than I was when I first started my Bible-teaching ministry 30 years ago. I know that my duty is to be faithful to preach and teach the word, and to leave the results to God. Indeed I think we all will only know the real fruits of our labours on earth when we meet our Master in heaven. But once in awhile, we are allowed to know a bit of the impact of our ministry while still on earth. Thanks, Ben.