New Testament scripture uses the term “koinoneo” koinonia (bibletools.org)
- To come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, be made a partner
- To enter fellowship, join one’s self to an associate, make one’s self a sharer or partner.
The word partaker is a common translation. It gives us the picture that we are to regularly lean into each other’s lives for growing in our own faith and building the kingdom of God together. It is a wonderful picture of love, sharing, cooperation, and collaboration.
Leaning in on someone else involves moving from a vertical position and sloping or bending towards that person. The positioning involves the redistribution of your weight and hopefully as you lean in, it is accepted and welcomed by that other person as they adjust to the additional weight.
That sounds complicated, however it is also a good way think about mentoring (leaning into someone else’s life).
When we lean into other’s lives for mentoring, we take the weight of our experience, ideas, information and offer it to another to take into their lives. Ideally, they adjust with the new information (weight) to accept and welcome that information.
There is a subtle difference between leaning in and pushing in. Sometimes we are asked or invited to share information, ideas, experience and knowledge with others. Other times we look for context clues, or windows of opportunity, teachable moments, to do that same. But that is the tricky part, finding those. Sometimes we push, or bulldozer our ideas on others, and this is rarely helpful, or welcomed. Most of us are usually quick to give advice, but less apt to invite it into our own lives.
So, when we lean into other’s lives and they adjust to accept or welcome our leaning, it is truly a privilege.
The Bible gives us ample support that we are to be involved in each other’s lives to be partners. Not only for worship, and learning the word of God together, but for support, encouragement, training and building the Body of Christ together. We are meant to live our lives in support, encouragement, learning and leaning together.
The trouble for us comes when we get to the part where the weight re-distribution begins; when others begin to share our space, offer countering opinions, suggest or require change. That is usually the time we think of it as butting in, not leaning in.
Consider this, if we are to truly gain from one another, we need to be open to these exchanges, this sharing of life and wisdom together. We need to lean in, and lean on one another.
I would like to lean in and share some scripture that I think give support to the process.
- James 1: 19-22: be quick to listen, and slow to speak
- II Timothy 4: 2: correct, rebuke and encourage (each other) with great patience and careful instruction.
- Proverbs 20:5: The purposes of a person’s heart are deep water, but one who has insight draws them out.
- Proverbs 1:5: let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance- (remember: everyone needs to allow others to lean into their lives. - We all need each other)
- Proverbs 12:15: The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
- Romans 15: 14: I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
Below are other scripture passages to read as you consider the leaning or partaking process.
Exodus 18: 1-16 (Moses’s Father-In-Law leans in…)
Are you leaning?
Are you listening?
Are you sharing life with one another?
Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at NUMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.