or a fellow minister overseeing them. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines covering as “a thing used to cover something else, typically in order to protect or conceal it.” One apostle I know preaches that everybody should have a pastor. I believe that’s good advice especially for newborn believers. Whenever I lead someone to the Lord, I always encourage him (or her) to find a good church where he can be discipled and grow up in the things of God.
The Bible mentions people who had spiritual mentors: Joshua had Moses, Elisha had Elijah, and Timothy had Paul. On the other hand, Moses never had a spiritual father nor did Elijah or Paul. Paul even cited that as proof of his apostleship (Galatians 1:15-17).
I’ve heard some Christians claim, “I am submitted to God and no one else!” People who make remarks like that tend to have a rebellious attitude and are not open to correction. Although a believer “ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), Ephesians 5:21 talks about “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” 1 Peter 5:5 also says, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.”
One afternoon I was at a coffee shop working on my laptop computer when I suddenly noticed my jumpdrive had broken off my key chain. For the next hour or so, I searched every possible place the missing jumpdrive could have been since I last used it. A pastor I was working with at the time ended up finding my jumpdrive outside the coffee shop where I had previously looked. I believe the Lord used that incident to show me why it’s important to have spiritual accountability. Other believers can see things we can’t.
Nevertheless, there are times when a Christian must step out even if others disagree with where God is guiding him. In 1996, I resigned from my job at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association because the Lord wanted me to attend revival meetings in Toronto but my supervisor wouldn‘t give me the time off. He plus elders from my church questioned my decision. To them it looked foolish for me to leave a “stable job.” But instead of following their opinions, I obeyed what God instructed me to do. As a result I had the opportunity to stretch my faith and live in Toronto for two months where the Lord meet my needs. After I returned to Minnesota, I came back to work at Billy Graham. Two years later, I left that job for good to travel on the mission field full-time.
Now and then I haven’t officially had a home church but still sought counsel from other ministers I kept in contact with. Sometimes the Lord has led me to temporarily move to a new city where I initially didn’t have any spiritual connections. In situations like that, I always sought out a good church to attend that I could also refer newborn believers to. Occasionally pastors there have encouraged me to come forward and speak without hearing me preach beforehand. They discerned by the Spirit of God I had something to say that would bless their congregations.
Still there have been critics who accused me of being a “lone ranger.” Until recently I had considered paying money to join a ministerial organization so my ministry would have greater creditability. But then I heard this powerful statement from Ian Clayton: “You don’t have to buy a covering when Jesus is your covering.”
If you happen to be in-between churches right now, pray and ask God to lead you to where He wants you planted and whom He wants you accountable to. Until then, God has you covered...if you are truly submitted to Him.
“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” - Psalms 91:4