In the military, “I’ve got your six” means, “I’ve got your back.” The saying originated with World War I fighter pilots referencing a pilot’s rear at the six o’clock position. It is now a popular term in the military that highlights the loyalty and cooperation found in military culture.
In an early scene from the movie “We Were Soldiers,” Lt. Col. Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson) is addressing a group of soldiers who are about to engage in the first major battle between the US and North Vietnamese forces. In the midst of the address he tells the recruits,
“Look around you … we are moving to the valley of the shadow of death. You will watch the back of the man next to you and he will watch yours.”
In one swift and concise moment the Lt. Col. crucifies individualism and resurrects partnership. Let’s apply this concept of partnership to ministry leadership. WHY? Because when you answer the call to ministry there are going to be many times you will feel that you have descended into the valley of the shadow of death. However, one of the most effective ways to navigate and survive the jungle of ministry life is through the path of partnership.
One of the most effective ways to navigate and survive the jungle of ministry life is through the path of partnership.
PARTNERSHIP IS FOUNDATIONAL
Genesis 1:26-27. We don’t have to look far into Scripture to find this concept modeled for us. The doctrine of the tri-unity of God brilliantly reflects how the Father, the Son and the Spirit provide a perfect prototype of partnership. All three persons of the Godhead are found partnering together in the creation of humanity. They worked together in partnership/fellowship/participation/sharing to accomplish their eternal purpose of man’s creation. Simply put, God didn’t have a more excellent plan than participation. One could conceivably say that they were “co-laborers in the ministry.”
PARTNERSHIP IS HELPFUL
Exodus 17:8-15. Some days we feel as broken as Job, as vulnerable as David, as misunderstood as Jeremiah, as persecuted as Paul or as forsaken as Jesus. But when we join hands in partnership with others we are not alone and God can then give us victory.
One of the greatest leaders in the Old Testament found himself in need of a partnership in order to effectively lead through the valley. Moses, as strong as he was, couldn’t do it alone. He needed Aaron and Hur to partner with him to insure that Joshua was victorious in the battle. They had his six! We need partnerships to hold up our arms in the battle of ministry life. Who has your six?
Look again at this story. Moses lifted up his staff–a picture of worship; of arms raised toward God; second it was a picture of intercession on behalf of those he was leading: and third and most importantly it was a picture of surrender. A surrender of his independent self. A surrender of my will to God’s will–in partnership with the help of the Holy Spirit and the help of other ministry leaders. DA Carson says it well, “the heart of true fellowship (partnership) is self sacrificing conformity to a shared vision.”
Moses, as strong as he was, couldn’t do it alone. He needed Aaron and Hur to partner with him to insure that Joshua was victorious in the battle.
PARTNERSHIP IS RELATIONAL
Luke 5:1-11. The Gospels are filled with stories of partnership. This Luke 5 story is about a fishing partnership. I enjoy fishing, but not alone. My favorite fishing times have been with my brother or my father, and in all honesty they are better fishermen than I am. When I join them on the lake or in the river I learn to read the water, which lure or fly to cast, but most importantly I can enjoy the relationship that comes from that partnership. What these future disciples learned was that a partnership with Jesus produced more fruit than going it alone. Casting their nets together produced a much greater reward and the camaraderie with Jesus was worth it all.
We are created for relationships. In a recent article by Phil Arendt titled, “What Does the Bible Say About Partnership,” he writes, “rich partnerships in the Gospel arise out of deep relationships based on shared passion, mutual goals, and much time together.” There is power in partnership because they are based on relationships.
There is power in partnership because they are based on relationships.
Luke 10:1-18. Jesus chose and sent out seventy-two disciples–”two by two” “in pairs” as partners to serve side by side. Why? Because they were being sent as sheep among wolves. Because “two are better than one.” Because each partner serves as a shield from the attacks of the enemy, from the fiery darts of the devil and his cohort. A spiritual partnership can be a defense when the enemy flanks you from your blind side. A partnership has each other’s back. Roger Bruce writes that we must learn that we need to lean into others strengths and hand off our weaknesses to a better-suited partner.
Who’s got your six?
A spiritual partnership can be a defense when the enemy flanks you from your blind side.
PARTNERSHIP IS FRUITFUL
Philippians 1:3-6. Perhaps Paul while under arrest gives a definitive statement on what biblical partnership looks like. With a thankful, prayer filled heart, Paul celebrates his partnership with the Philippian believers. What was he celebrating? He was thanking God that these brothers and sisters had made the GOSPEL the center of their partnership. The Philippian church cared enough about the Gospel to financially partner in spreading the Good News. They focused on the Gospel. The result was much fruit because they partnered together. That’s what biblical partnerships are about.
Partnership is not about preferences, personalities, peripherals or pleasantries. When pastors partner with pastors, when churches partner with churches, and when churches partner with associations it must clearly be centered in the sharing of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ and the advancement of his kingdom. When we set aside our personal predispositions (I’m not talking biblical doctrine) and we promote a shared vision of the furtherance of the Gospel, our faith is increased and so is the faith of those to whom we are called minister to.
The Philippian church cared enough about the Gospel to financially partner in spreading the Good News. They focused on the Gospel.
PARTNERSHIP IS ESSENTIAL
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. This is a classic passage on the importance of biblical partnership. At the end of his life, the man who had it all–wealth, women, wine and worldly possessions was now alone, isolated and lonely. He had learned a couple of life’s lessons–it’s lonely at the top and “two are better than one,” and better yet, “a triple cord is not easily broken.” What if he had engaged one or two others, who had his back, to advance the kingdom? What if he had woven a three-fold (tri-unity) cord (partnership) that made the demands of the daily grind more effective and stronger because it shared the responsibility with someone who had a greater set of skills in one area than he had? What if he asked himself, “who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” Maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t have felt that “all is vanity.”
If we are going to walk in alignment with Scripture we must seek partnership, fellowship, partners, and participation with others in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are no “Lone Rangers” in God’s plan to be witnesses who make disciples. If the work of God is going to be effectively shared in our communities, we must partner. The attitude of Christ was one of partnering with us in order to effectively communicate the Gospel and reach as many for the kingdom as possible. Truly we are better “partnering” together!
There are no “Lone Rangers” in God’s plan to be witnesses who make disciples. If the work of God is going to be effectively shared in our communities, we must partner.
Here are some questions to help us evaluate partnership in our own world.
- Who’s your partner? (Individual or corporate). Who has your six?
- Are you really partnered together in the Gospel, or are you just enjoying another cup of coffee?
- As a part of the Colorado Baptist team, how are you partnering on a local level, an associational level or state level to advance the Gospel in your community?
- What can you do to develop a partnership with your local association?
- Whose arms are you holding up at this time?