January 4, 2017

When We Met Bill and Beni

My father passed away when I was three years old, so when I met Bill Derryberry and Bill Johnson they filled a huge void in my life. When Kathy and I met Bill and Beni Johnson, we found that we clicked really well with them. Some people don’t know this but we actually lived with Bill and Beni for about six months when our kids were really young! We learned so much from our relationship with the Johnsons, mainly by watching how they did life and how they interacted with their children. We served them and in turn we got to see the way they modeled nobility, to the point that it felt like we had the privilege of knowing a prince and princess! They didn’t have much money but they acted as though they were wealthy in the ways that they carried themselves. For example, they lived in the parsonage near the church so every homeless person would walk up and down the highway, and so many people would knock on their door night after night to stay with them when they needed help, which Bill and Beni extended every time. What stood out to me is that Bill never allowed his authority to separate him from other people. That affected me so much, that he would lay down his life and bless everyone.

The Turning Point

When Bill hired me, I came out of owning a business for 20 years and it was hard to transition into church land because I wasn’t used to having someone over me. About 5 years into working for Bill, I spoke at a church and while there God said to me, “This pastor is leaving and you are going to have the opportunity to take this position.” Following this, one night I had a dream where I was preaching and there were thousands of people at the church. In the dream, the Lord said, “If you leave Bill and become the pastor here, this is what it will look like.” I thought this picture of thousands listening to me preach was amazing! Immediately the vision changed and from space, I saw the earth and God voice, “But… you’ll never touch that.” He continued, “Only you and I will know you failed, but if you stay with Bill, you will model for the first time what it is like for apostles and prophets to live together for life.” God was giving me the option to choose, and at first this was hard! I loved Bill but struggled daily with not being the senior leader, so it was tempting to choose pastoring my own church. I told Bill about the opportunity, but not the vision, and Bill just said, “Whatever you do, I will support you.”

About four months went by and I was really struggling with making a choice to take the job at the church or continue to serve with Bill Johnson. I received a word from a trusted prophet & friend, and after that God told me that I needed to make a lifetime covenant that I would serve Bill the rest of my life. This made the decision clearer for me. Sometimes it really does take a word this clear to help us get where we need to be.

Bill and I went to speak at a men’s retreat, and on the way back I committed myself to him. This changed everything because until this point, whenever I had trouble in my job I would think, “I could leave here right now,” and that made issues palatable. But now that I was committed, I had to work on my relationship with Bill and with the team. Within a year, we started to think alike for the first time and things began to explode around here at Bethel! The rest is history.

4 Keys for Becoming a Son or Daughter

How does someone find a spiritual mother or father? I get this question so often. I know what it’s like to hunger for covering, a voice of wisdom, someone to share your accomplishments with and process difficult decisions with. And I’m encouraged to see a generation hungry for this as well! It all begins by positioning your heart as a son or daughter. Then you will attract spiritual parents.

1) Find people who you value and who value you.Do this not because of what they give you and not for selfish reasons, but rather because of the fruit and experience you’ve seen in their lives that you could model yourself after. If you want to be a mechanic, hang around repair shops. If you want to be a pastor, hang around pastors and stack chairs.

2) Serve well.
Often in our environment we teach you that you are amazing, which is true, but then people go out from here and look for their throne of destiny. They’re missing the point! The seat of servanthood becomes your throne. Find a simple place to serve and serve well because that’s where God looks for great leaders.

3) Give a place for others to mold you.
You have to allow your life to be transformed by your spiritual parents. We all want somebody to affirm us, but if we are not willing to receive constructive criticism it doesn’t leave room for growth or even deep connection. When we value people on that level that we will let them adjust us, we begin to position ourselves in that manner. You have to let them change how you live.

4) Be open to it looking different than you may think.
I also know that some of you may struggle with the idea of inviting fathering and mothering into your lives because you’re older. What if there aren’t older people around you? I’m over sixty and I still have so much to learn because we’re always growing. We all have different specialities and there are people who are more mature in an area than we are, but younger than us in others. But fathering is not age related, it’s experience related.

If you’re hungering for spiritual parenting I pray that God brings that into your life. I encourage you to partner with him and allow Holy Spirit to show you how you can position yourself as a son or daughter. Could you find a place to serve and really give of your time? Could you grow in allowing those with wisdom to correct you in a loving way? Let me know in the comments below!

Topics: All TopicsIdentityLeadership


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