Leaders in the Body of Christ are called, among other things, to be lifeguards. Watching is the key function of a prophet or intercessor. Rescuing is a priority for the evangelist. Guarding is elementary for the pastor. Warning is a main component of teaching. Vision is essential for the apostle. Believers in the Kingdom of God are expected to be on guard, or more specifically: to keep watch.
My pastor runs a waterskiing ministry at the lake near his church in the summertime. On days when he is alone, the kids know that if he is out on the water training someone, no one swims until he gets back to the dock.
I visited one day, offering to watch the children who stayed behind to swim while he took a handful of others out on his boat. Some of the kids were eager but inexperienced swimmers. He asked me only one question before he left: “Are you ready to dive in and save them if someone is in trouble?”
I thought nothing of this at the time, since I had grown up around the water and understand the risks involved. My pastor’s question didn’t stand out to me until I began writing today’s post. He didn’t realize it, but he had summed up the concept of spiritual lifeguarding in one sentence.
We need spiritual lifeguards: people who are ready to lead, rescue, warn and save. Without them, we are at the mercy of dangers we have not foreseen. With them, we are safe. We must learn to keep watch!
What Are We Watching For?
Most of us know that we watch, foremost, for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. While no one knows the day or hour, the Bible trains us to look for specific signs that alert us to His coming. (See Matthew 24.) Yet this is not the only thing we watch for!
Just like a lifeguard at the ocean, we are also watching for immediate dangers, both internal and external. It isn’t just the enemy who threatens us, as in shark-infested waters, but fellow believers who get in “over their heads,” so to speak.
Believers often overestimate their abilities to withstand temptation and may need warnings concerning the potential threats of sin. Like an inexperienced swimmer pulled under by the tides or waves, we need to notice the conditions of those around us, and be ready to save.
This isn’t always easy. A spiritual drowning can be as sudden and silent as a natural one. Jesus says in Luke 21:34: “Be on guard…” (NASB.) Here are the types of things we are to watch for:
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.