2 Cor 2:12-17
12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord opened a door for me, 13 I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. Instead, I said good-bye to them and left for Macedonia
In these verses we see how vital friendships in ministry is for the Apostle Paul.
Note that in verse 12 Paul is engaged in the core activity of his calling (preaching “the gospel of Christ”) and just as importantly we read “the Lord [had] opened a door for [him]” (now we don’t know how but it was clear to Paul that this was no accidental stumbling into Troas). I think, when you put those two things together, it seems a pretty sweet and convincing combination for sticking in Troas, don’t you? Yet in the very next verse (see 13) Paul tells us that he ‘up sticks’ and heads out of town because his brother Titus is not present.
What should we make of these verses? I think when lined up against the great doctrine of the trinity (an eternal community or fellowship of three persons and yet one God), and the creation of partnership in the garden of Eden between Adam & Eve, and then the relationship severing effects that the fall had on all human relationships, and then the institution in the Old Testament of the distinct but interdependent roles of Prophet, Priest and King, needing to work together in partnership, and then Jesus’ beautiful modelling of friendship, partnership and team in his training of the apostles and then Paul’s description in 1 Cor 13 of the body of Christ (the church) being a beautifully interconnected body – my question is do you have “Titus-like” friends in your ministry context? And before you answer this, note how Paul was willing to abandon a potentially ‘ripe’ ministry opportunity and the clear leading of the Lord, because he would have been ministering alone and out of the context of vibrant and deep friendship.
Friendship and ministry in the local church don’t need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, I want to suggest that the biblical narrative shows us that true fruitful and healthy ministry flows from deep relational partnerships.