Partnership is a key word in the vocabulary of the business world and in the life of the church as well as in denominational endeavors. Everyone seems to be in agreement that working in partnership or as a team is the best way to be effective in life.
The difficulty is relating to each other in healthy ways so as to create and maintain a partnership which succeeds.
Author Mark Perry has written about one of the best partnership stories of the 20th century in a book titled Partners in Command. Perry describes in refreshing detail the partnership between Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall and Commanding General Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II and the years following the cataclysmic conflict. Arguably, this historic partnership creating the frame work for a winning strategy between the U.S. and its allies.
Marshall was a military prophet who foresaw the coming of the Second World War and did all he could to prepare for it. He kept a famous “black book” with the names of emerging young officers whom he felt would be future leaders. Near the top of the list was Dwight Eisenhower. There were other notable names such as the flamboyant George Patton, but Eisenhower was chosen top field commander because he could work with all kinds of people.
At first, General Marshall was the mentor and advisor to “Ike” but, as the war in Europe moved forward, Eisenhower became the primary leader who had to take the risks and make the momentous decisions such as the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Ike was the decision-maker and the diplomat. By this time, Marshall was the supporter and encourager who ran interference for Eisenhower in Washington with the President and at the Pentagon.
Mark Perry infers that this was the partnership that won the war against Hitler. In my mind, he does so most convincingly. General Marshall’s credo was “never fight unless you have to, never fight alone and never fight for long.” He instilled this philosophy in the hearts and minds of his younger commanders. He had no better student than Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ike knew that democracies had to fight wars differently than dictatorships. His skill as a commander of unified forces is evidence of the Marshall mentoring.
Partners in Command is essentially a dual biographical work, but it is also a treatise on leadership. There are many lessons to be learned from people who forged effective partnerships at critical times in their lives. For believers, we are “partners in the gospel” as Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians (Phil. 1:5). That is the best of all partnerships, and it makes an eternal difference for the world in which we live There is a true sense in which we are partners in the sharing of the gospel, seeking to liberate people from the throes of sin and its consequences. Like General Marshall in World War II, the apostle Paul challenges us “to never fight alone.” We need each other. For Christians, we are “partners in a command” but partners in THE cause.