Someone once told me, “I don’t trust leaders who don’t walk with a limp.” Give me a leader who has wrestled with God, and been shown the limitations in his character or make-up. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON DISCIPLESHIP.
John Wimber’s quip, “leaders who walk with a limp,” were men and women who have wrestled with God over the years and become damaged goods in the process. They are followers of Christ who know with great certainty that our Redeemer lives, but still wince a bit in pain when asked to tell their faith story.
Sadly, America doesn’t seem to like its leaders to limp. Nor does the victorious church of Jesus Christ often recruit men and women who don’t look the part of the strong and confident leader. In a society where bigger is always better and more is much more preferable to less, there seems little room today for brokenness or weakness in those who lead. When Wimber was alive, Jesse Ventura, the brawny pro-wrestler turned governor of Minnesota, boldly told the press that Christianity is for losers, for people who need a crutch in life, for those who are not strong enough to make it on their own.
You know what, Jesse? You’re right.
A quick look at the biblical hall of fame reveals these truths.
Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a day-dreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Samson had long hair and was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, David had an affair and was a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Naomi was a widow, Job went bankrupt, Peter denied Christ, Jesus’ disciples fell asleep while praying, Martha worried about everything, the Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once, Zaccheus was too small, Paul was too religious, Timothy had an ulcer, and Lazarus was dead!
Somehow, I wonder at times if God actually prefers to use the broken, the least, and the losers? Maybe he knows that if he used the strong and unshakeable ones, those folks, in their pride and arrogance, would take credit for the good stuff that God does in our midst? Maybe in God’s economy, he actually takes great joy in doing amazing signs and wonders through what author Henri Nouwen calls “wounded healers.”
One of the great mysteries in the life of Wimber was the fact that God used this “simple fat man from Missouri” to heal literally thousands and thousands of people, yet John struggled daily with the lack of healing in his own life. Over the years, Jesus’ ministry of healing flowed easily through his hands, so much so at times, I think people were shocked when they found out that Wimber never found much physical healing for his own ailments. Many don’t realize that for most of the last ten to fifteen years of his life, Wimber struggled with heart issues, cancer, and some other physical problems that kept him very limited in his ability to travel and minister as he did.
I recall taking him to the airport in June of 1986 after he had just conducted one of the most amazing healing services of which I’ve ever been a part. As he sat in the front seat of our Dodge Caravan, he looked very tired and pale. He said little as we made our way to O’Hare. Sandy and I could tell that he was exhausted. I excitedly asked him about his many travels and commented on how thrilling it must be to see God move so powerfully everywhere he went. He looked at me with a tired, weary look and said, “Marty, I don’t get too excited about traveling these days. I do it primarily because God asks me too.” As we drove up to the drop-off area, I retrieved his suitcase from our trunk and offered to take it inside for him. He nodded with a “No, thanks, Marty, I got it” kind of look and Sandy and I still recall seeing this tired, weary warrior shuffling his way through the doors, heading back home to Anaheim so he could preach at his church on Sunday morning.
Ten days later, we heard that he had suffered a heart attack and would be laid up for a few weeks to get his strength back. Our hearts broke for this tireless warrior, a leader with a limp. Over the next eleven years, Wimber would continue his trek of faithfulness, despite the warfare, despite the travel, despite the physical pain. Moving on with Jesus, doing the work of the ministry God had given him with little time to sit at home and rest his weary body for much more than a few days at a time.
As I see it, this is the kind of leader with a limp the American church could use these days. I am thankful that Wimber set the bar for us. I, for one, felt I could trust a leader like him who limped his way through years of faithful service to the Master.
Father, thank you for John Wimber, the leader with a limp. And for all those others over the centuries who didn’t give up despite their weaknesses and dysfunctions, thank you, Lord. May the Holy Spirit indwell and empower me to keep going despite the times when I feel as though I’m too tired, too unqualified, or too wounded to keep going. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- So what voices am I listening to today that are telling me that I’m not qualified to be used by God?
- How can I overcome those voices and also help others to believe that despite their brokenness or wounded-ness, the Lord doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies those he calls?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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