When I think of spiritual giants my mind first goes to people whose names either have gone down in history or will go down in history. Names like Martin Luther, George Whitfield, Charles Spurgeon, Reese Howell, Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, Francis Chan, Franklin Graham, Heidi Baker, Damon Thompson and Gladys Alyward. I’m sure you could add names of people who are well known that have made multi generational impacts. Sure, these are spiritual giants, icons of the Christian faith, but there are others we overlook.
Each of have people we look to in our local church as giants of the faith. You know the ones, the people who are always busy going about church functions making sure no hole is unfilled. Maybe it’s the person who always has the “church” face on every time you see them at a church function. They always have a word of encouragement, a bold proclamation, they are confident speaking to a crowd and called on to pray. We tend to look to them for spiritual guidance and a godly example.
The problem is we often never see these people outside of a church function. We often never catch them “off guard” out in town. When we do it’s not uncommon for them to disappoint us with their actions and attitude. We tend to put too much expectation on them as they are just people like us. Just because they put on a great game face does not mean they are a spiritual giant.
My wife recently had an encounter with a couple out in town that are considered to be stalwarts of the faith. It was a surprise encounter for both parties. They spoke for a few minutes and my wife shared some health struggles we are having with our daughter. The wife, in an off-handed manner, said we’ll pray for her and walked off while the husband never said a word nor acknowledged her presence.
Now, understand that we are more of a contemporary & charismatic persuasion. We are fans of bold prayers, bold faith and enthusiastic worship. We have had reservations about churches that are more reserved and traditional, appearing to be more concerned with appearance and programs being adhered to on time.
Later in the day my wife had a phone conversation with a friend who attends one of “those” more traditional churches of a main line denomination. She was relaying the news of our daughters health challenges and this friend stopped and said we need to pray now, on the phone then before hanging up apologized for being drowsy from an outpatient procedure a couple of hours earlier. She then spoke to another lady who leads a home school group our daughter is in and this lady told us, again, that she wants to bring us a meal and her church is praying for us.
In this one day the Lord taught us a lesson on spiritual giants. They aren’t always the ones who stand out and are pointed to at church as beacons for the faith. They are the ones who are quite about their faith, but firm in their convictions. They don’t compromise their deeply held beliefs, but aren’t afraid to mingle with others of a different persuasion. They are the ones who go about their day-to-day life with humility and character that no man can say anything bad about. They are not necessarily the loud charismatic ones, but often are the humble prayer warriors that won’t hesitate to intercede on your behalf. They are the ones that don’t cut you down for your failures and faults, but accept you and encourage you to be a better person. The aren’t concerned about behavior control or modification but your coming to know Jesus and letting His spirit do the changing.
If we allow, God will constantly teach us lessons. Some are profound while others are obvious. I encourage you to consider who the people are that you consider a spiritual giant and remember that they are just people and people will let you down eventually. The performance and work are not obvious indicators of spiritual maturity, but stead fastness is.