It is amazing how many people think they want to be a leader until they get into the position of leadership. From a distance it looks quite attractive to get all that attention from people. We get to hear how much people appreciate them, we hear a lot of "thank you's", we see them always surrounded by people, and they get to make all the decisions. What we don't see or feel is the heavy weight of responsibility that rests on their shoulders. Good leaders carry that weight well and bad leaders don't even bother picking it up.
The worse type of leader to have are those who are not called to the office. Many people think they want to lead but they are not willing to pay the cost. The cross of a leader is pretty heavy and those who are pretenders are too weak to carry it so they don't bother. They are only wanting the perks, the privileges, the good times. They do not feel the weight of compassion and love because these things require time and effort in people's lives. Leadership in the Church requires a great deal of sacrifice and service to the Body, being involved in the sewage of people's lives. Often leaders have to get down in that sewage to help people find their way back out of it. It gets ugly, dirty, overwhelming at times, and always inconvenient but a leader called by grace is only too glad to walk in those shoes because that is the real privilege of leadership.
Most people who desire to be a leader but who are not called soon drop off because the responsibility is too great without the anointing of Jesus Christ. Those who are called are also called to a higher accountability. While addressing his disciples about the Kingdom's perspective on greatness in the Kingdom, Jesus stated these things about those who are given responsibility for the "children" (Matthew 18):
- they must welcome them
- they must never cause them to sin
- they must rid themselves of anything that would cause them to sin
- they must never look down on them
- they must realize that our Father is not willing to lose one of them and will go to any length to save them
Sometimes we have this terrible attitude toward people that if someone wanders from the faith it is sad but it is of their own doing. But this is not the attitude Jesus revealed from the Father. First he warned the disciples never to look down on these "little ones" and then he told them this:
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." (Matthew 18:12-14)
Every single lamb is important to the Father. It doesn't matter if we have been given the responsibility of five, five hundred or 5,0000, each and every one of them are precious in the eyes of our Father, We cannot afford the attitude that 99 is good enough and ignore the one that has wondered off. Sometimes people leave or wonder off and we simply shrug our shoulders and say it's for the best. It is never for the best. If they decide to move to another church that is one thing but if they simply fade away from the faith then we will be responsible for that.
Sometimes leaders develop a thick skin because when people who we care about decide to leave it causes us pain. But that thick skin is disgusting to our Father. Imagine if he decided to develop a thick skin. Being a leader is being vulnerable and open to pain. It is part of the cost we have to pay for remaining sensitive to the needs of the sheep. If we do not remain sensitive we will not care if one wonders off . We must realize that if we lose any of them we will have to give an accounting for it. We can't afford to protect our hearts from pain. We have to check ourselves constantly to insure that we are remaining tender and vulnerable, that we are sensitive and caring, that what happens to those in our care matters to us. We cannot lead from a distance. We cannot allow ourselves to think so highly of us that we do not remain with the people. We cannot build a mansion on a distant hill to protect ourselves while leaving the sheep to wonder off into the dark of night. How would we ever explain that to Jesus?
No, leadership in the Body of Christ is not for who ever thinks they would like to do it. It is an anointed calling and that calling is to serve the people in our care. It is not a matter of lording it over them, it is not authority as the world understands authority, it is not a place where we get served. We do the serving, the caring, the teaching, the changing of diapers, the hand holding, the correcting, the chasing after, the searching, the watching over. We carry a huge responsibility that we did not choose but for which we were chosen. It is not a choice for us but a compelling of the Spirit. We understand when Jesus says we are not to look down on them. We understand what he means about celebrating over the one who was lost but is now found. We understand and we gladly lay our life down for it. This type of leadership is not for everyone but it is for you if you have been called to it. Do not envy our leaders but instead thank God for them.