For the past 10 years, one vital key to my leadership has been The Stinklings. Three close friends (Ben Cachiaras, senior pastor with Mountain Christian Church; Tim Harlow, senior pastor with Parkview Christian Church and Eddie Lowen, lead minister with Westside Christian Church) who have joined with me on the journey of ministry.
Last week, Eddie wrote an article for Christian Standard regarding this special friendship. He writes, “Under circumstances none of us fully recalls, four lead pastors became friends and discussed our mutual need for a band of brothers. Exactly what the group needed to ultimately become, we weren’t certain. But we knew we needed it and believed God would help us discover it.
The Stinklings (adapted from the Inklings, a group of authors that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) have been gathering semiannually and communicating weekly by text and e-mail for a decade. Our activities, interests, and needs have morphed over time, but our covenant commitment to walk through our final 25 years of ministry leadership together is firm.
Affinity and common interests have helped us bond, no doubt. We all play golf and tennis. We all snow ski and water ski. We all enjoy nature and travel. We all adore our wives and kids. We share similar gifts (leadership and communication), but exercise them in unique ways.
We learn from each other, but leave room for differences. Our opinions are similar enough to place us in the same solar system, but in slightly different orbits. We agree a lot. We disagree for sport. We change each other’s minds. Sometimes.”