Jerry sat next to me (Bill) in church one Sunday in 2005. I didn’t know him, but he knew me as the Spiritual Formation Pastor. During the service he wrote me a note, “Can I set an appointment for spiritual direction to talk to you this week?” I learned Jerry was a retired pastor.
“Imagine an old gallon of paint,” he wrote me in an email before his appointment. “It was purchased many years ago and almost used up. It’s on the back shelf in the garage, dented and very dusty and sealed with rust. But if you open it up, peel back the thick layer of skin and add some mineral spirits, you have usable paint. I am that old paint!”
I’d been praying for more opportunities to offer spiritual direction, especially for other pastors, so I was honored that Jerry was sharing his story with me and hoped I could help him realize there was indeed “usable paint” left in him. That’s what I did the first thirty minutes of our conversation.
Then all of a sudden I sensed Holy Spirit wanted me to switch roles with Jerry! God impressed on my heart that the reason he connected us was not for me to mentor him, but for him to mentor me!
As we traded chairs, I shared with Jerry how I felt called to care for other pastors and leaders and was waiting on God to develop this ministry. But I was struggling with impatience. I felt like I was a paint can stuck on the back shelf.
Jerry listened and then shared a powerful word picture. God often uses word pictures to minister encouragement or even healing.
In the early days of his pastoral ministry, he was bi-vocational and also worked in construction. He said that when a two-by-four in the framing of a house was weak, the way to strengthen it so it could bear its load was to bolt new two-by-fours to each of its sides like a pair of cleats.
“That’s what you need Bill,” he smiled, “You need a ‘pair-a-cleats’ to help you bear the load of what he’s called you to do. The Holy Spirit is your ‘Paraclete’ called alongside you to strengthen you!” Paraclete is the special name Jesus gives the Spirit (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). It’s a wonderful Greek word meaning “called to one’s side” to be our Friend, Helper, Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, and Strengthener.
Over the next few years, Jerry became a great encourager for me, helping me as a pastor to rely on Paraclete’s wisdom and power, not my own. And, encouraged by his opportunity to minister to me, Jerry began a new and flourishing ministry as “the Chaplain of the Streets of Norwalk!” He had many stories of people he shared Jesus with, discipled, and prayed for.
If I hadn’t listened to the Spirit’s unusual prompting we would’ve missed God’s blessing.
On my own, I never would’ve imagined the best way that I as a spiritual mentor and counselor could help to renew Jerry’s pastoral ministry was letting him minister to me—Holy Spirit revealed this to me. “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God,” Paul writes. The Spirit communicates God’s thoughts to us as we put our minds on Christ (1 Corinthians 2:11-12, 16).
If we are to join Jesus in his healing ministry, acting in concert with Holy Spirit is crucial. As we approach healing prayer, we need to rely on his wisdom, power, grace, and guidance. We need to embrace Holy Spirit as our “Pair-a-cleats” who helps us bear the weight of the ministry he’s given us.
This blog was adapted from Bill & Kristi’s book Healing Prayer: For Emotional and Physical Wholeness.
Listen to Soul Talks “Healing Prayer: Your Path to Emotional Wholeness.” In this podcast episode, Bill & Kristi share openly about their own individual journeys of emotional and relational healing and the abundant life that is available for each of us as God’s kids.