“Do you think that Islam is a way to go to Heaven?” My sweet friend genuinely wanted to know what I thought.
And my heart wrenched. I didn’t know what to say. I don’t believe Islam is the way to God, but I also wanted to be sensitive to my friend who had just lost her Muslim family member. She absolutely needed truth, but she needed it gently.
I looked at my teammate, and she stepped in while I gathered my thoughts. Together, we told her about Jesus and what the Bible says about Heaven. And when our sweet Muslim friend left, we processed together and cried together.
“I don’t know how I’d have survived living here without you.” I tell my teammate, hugging her.
Why You Need A 2×2 Partner
It is easy to think that we can go it alone. That it’s noble, even, to face life and ministry with only God by our sides.
But that’s not Biblical.
God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone and gave him Eve. Daniel had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. David had his mighty men. Paul had Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, and many other companions. Even Jesus Himself had the twelve disciples that went with Him in His ministry.
Not only did Jesus model ministry in community, but He also commanded it of His disciples. In Mark 6, He sends the twelve disciples out two by two, and in Luke 10, He sends out the seventy-two in pairs.God created the church to be Jesus’ body. He equipped us with different gifts. We need each other—especially for fruitful, effective, sustainable ministry. Click To Tweet
God created the church to be Jesus’ body. He equipped us with different gifts. We need each other—especially for fruitful, effective, sustainable ministry.
Partners in ministry provide each other with:
· Additional skillsets
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Someone to talk through things with. Someone to motivate you to get up and do what you said you’d do. Someone to walk into the intimidating situation with. Someone you don’t have to explain the nuances to. Someone who can fill in the gaps when you don’t know what to do.
How To Be a Good 2×2 Partner
A good partnership doesn’t happen by accident, and it can be difficult at times. Even though my teammate and I worked incredibly well together and genuinely enjoyed a deep friendship outside of ministry, there were still times of tension.
Just look at a few examples in scripture and you’ll see that ministry relationships are incredibly valuable—so valuable that the enemy often targets them. David killed Uriah, one of his mighty men; Paul and Barnabas parted ways; and one of Jesus’ twelve disciples betrayed Him.
So, let’s look at how to be a good 2×2 partner.
1. Get to know and understand your partner.
My siblings and I never allowed our parents to be on the same team when “Taboo” was chosen for family game night. The game involves guessing what the other person is thinking, and my parents knew each other too well. It wasn’t fair.
When you don’t know your partner, you’re going in blind. By God’s all-knowing grace, sometimes this works, but, when possible, it’s best to learn how your partner functions. What are their areas of expertise? When can you pass the ball to them in conversation? What are areas they struggle with where you can take the lead?
For example, in gospel conversations my teammate and I had with unbelievers, whenever someone brought up losing someone they loved, I knew to step back and let my teammate take the lead. She’d experienced that kind of loss for herself and had a beautiful testimony to share.
When you really know who you are partnering with, you don’t have to try to gauge what they will do, which enables you to confidently focus on the people you’re seeking to serve together.
Knowing your partner helps you trust them.
2. Foster trust with your partner.
Trust is crucial for 2×2 partners. You need to know that when you step back, they’ll step forward (and vice versa). You need to know that when you share something vulnerable, they’ll protect your privacy. You need to be able to trust them to identify and express their limits.
Fostering trust comes from 1) opportunities to earn trust by working together, and 2) knowing your partner and communicating with each other what your expectations are.
3. Communicate and debrief with your partner.
Communicating ahead of time, before engaging in ministry together, allows you to operate as a team based on the same vision and goals. It gives you the opportunity to problem-solve and think ahead strategically.
Some of my favorite moments with my teammate, however, are in the debriefing. Getting to celebrate progress together, affirm insecurities, curtail overthinking, and plan next steps together has produced some of the best ideas and given the most insight into how each other functions in ministry settings.
4. Be a Spirit-led partner.
We can plan, communicate with, and trust our partners. But ultimately, people will fail. Miscommunications will happen, ideas will contradict each other, and you and your partner will get tired.
This is why it is so crucial to rely not on our own understanding and plans, but to be Spirit-led. If each partner is focused on being led by the Spirit, they will find themselves in alignment with each other far more often.
5. Practice being partners together (and commit to grace).
All of this — understanding, knowing, trusting, communicating, and being Spirit-led — grows with simple practice. It doesn’t happen overnight; it takes showing up day after day together. When things are going so well you can’t even keep up . . . and when things are discouraging, it seems like it would be easier to do on your own, and you just. don’t. feel. like. it.
As you practice, there will be blunders. When my boyfriend and I started dating, we had no idea what we were doing. With no experience and an abundance of awkward conversations before us, we committed to blundering together. Blundering was doable. Since we’re both blundering and there was grace.Commit to extending grace to your ministry partner even when they blunder, knowing you will need plenty of grace, too. Click To Tweet
Commit to extending grace to your ministry partner even when they blunder, knowing you will need plenty of grace, too.
What people might God be calling you to partner with? How can you prepare to be a good partner to them? Who are you already partnered with? In what ways can you grow as a partner?