There is only one place where we find Jesus cannot do miracles, and that is his home town. Why? Because the people were over familiar with him – they saw him as the carpenter’s boy, not as the son of God.
One of the things that will outright stop the flow of the power of God in your life is being too familiar with the people God is using to minister life to you and equip you to minister.
Now I don’t believe there is anything wrong with being familiar with people who are pastors and evangelists. I love spending time with my people and all good pastors do too. The travelling speakers who fly in and fly out and don’t linger around people – I just ain’t interested in them at all.
Familiarity is not being familiar – familiarity is knowing someone so well that you lose your admiration and respect for them. You become presumptuous around them and stop respecting them. This familiarity is what made Michal barren, and it still makes Christians barren today.
No matter how great the gift from God is, the power on the person is always destroyed by familiarity. Jesus was the greatest healing minister who had ever preached in Nazareth, but their familiarity caused them to see only a few little miracles (Mark 6.5-6). They knew his mum and dad, they knew him as a child – their familiarity and lack of respect and honour lost them their miracle night.
Your family may suffer from familiarity – how can you be the great healer when you are a this-and-that. Wives, like Michal, can be unimpressed with their husbands at the exact moment everyone else is impressed with them. They will say “Well, I know what you are really like”, “I am not like your lackeys in the church/ office/ factory”, “if only people knew what you are really like”. I have seen ministers go through this. The wife is probably right, but their familiarity will cause them to be barren.
Close friends also suffer from familiarity – familiarity created Judas. Familiarity causes people to cross lines they should not cross! It makes people say things they should never say.
When Michal spoke against David, she became a critic of the king. David had just built a tabernacle but she wasn’t impressed. God said David was a man after his own heart, but she hated him. Can you imagine being annoyed when God is pleased? Familiarity will bring you there.
It takes discipline and care not to become familiar, and if you are a leader, it takes discipline and care not to let people become familiar. Remember – familiarity is being so familiar with someone it causes you to lose your respect. Remember – familiarity is what causes you to lose your access to the power of God that should be setting you free and equipping you to walk in your dreams.
Here are some tell-tale signs that familiarity is happening:
- Sitting at the back of the church
- If you are too familiar with the pastor, his preaching won’t set you on fire anymore! When a pastor goes across the world, people travel to hear him, but those who are called to be in his church skip church, won’t bother crossing the road to get there, and then sit at the back nonchalantly.
- Not buying or getting hold of product
- Someone who listens to a lot of someone preach online or on CD becomes familiar. Be careful if that then stops! If you have stopped getting hold of your pastor and listening to him online, you may be becoming too familiar!
- Not reading your pastors’s books
- Discussing the background of your pastor
- Every man of God is a man. That needs to be said! He doesn’t have a perfect life, he has a family, he has an imperfect marriage, imperfect children, and has the same challenges you do. You can pick any aspect of any leader’s life and then become so familiar you destroy the power of God from coming into your life. It’s that simple and that true! Be careful!
- Fault-finding and magnifying
- When a visiting speaker flies in to town, we don’t think of their faults. We never ask if they are in debt, we never ask if their lifestyle is extravagant, we never think if they are impatient or what they are like at home. We just receive.
- When you are thinking like this, you have stepped into familiarity. Try removing the log from your eye before removing the speck from anyone else’s!
- Rating our leaders
- I know we live in a democracy, our job is to rate and select our leaders. But Jesus didn’t start the democracy of God, He started the kingdom of God. You don’t assess the messages, you let them assess you. You don’t rank the guest speakers you gladly receive from all of them.
- We once had a lady who missed a meeting because she didn’t like the guest speaker. She said “Of course I am not going to come for him!” She was over-familiar with the speaker, and over-familiar with me, not trusting my choices to get good speakers in. In fact the message that night would have really helped her, but she wasn’t there to get the help. She did not stay long at the church! She allowed familiarity to stop her receiving. Recently, she was unwell and she met my wife, who tried to help her receive her healing, but she just shook her head and said “I’ve done all that”. She had nothing but familiarity and she sadly left sick without her miracle.
- Failing to appreciate your pastor
- It is very easy to take your pastor for granted. We neglect those we are familiar with. The biggest deception we get into is we honour guest speakers above our pastors! The pastor is the one who is there sent from God to build you, and they were the gate that opened to bring the guest speaker to you!
- It is the pastor who labours over you with love. We are not trying to get a big offering for the pastor and give him a great life – we are trying to help you honour the gifts God has given you because honour brings life
Now you see the signs of familiarity, make the choices to get it out of your life. Change the way you think, give big to your pastors, turn up at church on time and sit at the front. You will suddenly get so much more life out of the church, it will be like a new church!