One of my great concerns about us as a people of God, as a Church, as followers of Jesus, is that we are so leader oriented. I wouldn't say that we worship our pastors and worship leaders but there is a bit of the world in our attitude. The world likes to elevate people to a demi-god position. Look at what we do to actors. So George Clooney can act, does that make his political opinion more important than yours? So Oprah Winfrey is a good interviewer, does that mean she knows what she is talking about spiritually? We do this to people who are no better than us, lifting them up, making them famous and important, and then treating their opinion as if it is based on some kind of special insight or wisdom. Part of this creeps into the Church.
We are looking for heroes, people we can follow, people we can quote, people we can trust and believe in but we do it for all the wrong reasons. In the Church there is no one more important than anyone else but there is respect. We respect those who are called into positions of leadership. We respect them because it is a difficult place to serve, not because they are better than anyone else. There are all kinds of callings and positions and they are all important to make the body function. We respect those who are called as the servants of the Body because it is a right thing to do, because the Bible tells us to, which means it is what God asks. But don't get it wrong.
We get it wrong when we start losing sight of the purpose and we start making the person more important than who we are in Jesus. We get it wrong when we see one person's calling of greater significance than our own or of someone else's. What is important is our purpose, the mission we were given. What is important is the Head of the Body and what he directs us to do, everyone of us, so we can work together to see the body function as it should.
There are two incidents of this in the Bible that really stand out for me. The first is found in Numbers 11. Moses had brought 70 of Israel's elders together. He caused the Spirit of God to come on the elders and the elders prophesied. Yet there were two elders still in the camp, not with the others, and the Spirit came on them as well and they prophesied.
Joshua, who had been Moses' aid since he was young, took great exception to this. He felt it took glory away from Moses and he told Moses to stop them from doing it. Joshua was making Moses more important than this thing that God was doing. Thankfully Moses was a mature leader and refused such temptation from his admirer:
“Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29)
A leader called by God does not want to keep to himself the secrets or blessings of the Lord. He doesn't want his name to shine in lights. He doesn't want to be lifted higher than anyone else. He wants all of God's children to have what he has and to eat from the blessings he has received. We find this same scene played out with Jesus.
In this case it was the disciples who wanted a sense of being a special class. They were privileged to be picked by Jesus and they wanted to preserve that for themselves. In a sense they wanted to be the elite, belonging to a priesthood, having the inside track, part of an inner circle. They had it all wrong. Jesus had only called them so he could train them to go out and train others, to train the entire world. But the disciples had seen someone casting out a demon in Jesus' name and they stopped him. They actually stopped him. How easily legalism creeps in. Jesus corrected them in the same manner as Moses:
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:39-40)
Later Apostle Paul would run into the same problem with the Corinthians. They were dividing themselves into who they were following, causing conflicts, not unlike the doctrinal fights of our day. Paul had to tell them that one leader was no more important than another and each had his place and purpose and the only one who mattered was Jesus.
We need to get our perspective back in order to be doing what we need to be doing. It is great that there are people like me who are called for a specific reason in the Body of Christ, but there are so many more callings that are equally important. It is great that we have people who are given the gift of preaching, teaching, writing, singing, playing music but we need all the gifts to shine not just a few. Where are those with the gifts of encouragement, prophesying, healing, wisdom, knowledge, miraculous powers? Why have we allowed these to fade while placing special honour on others?
My friend, we need you. We need you to stop living in the shadow of your brothers and sisters and to shine in your calling. We need you to grab hold of your gift. I said your gift, not someone else's. Grab hold of that thing and give it all you have to serve others with it. There is no elitism in the Church, no priesthood because we are all of the royal priesthood. As Paul wrote:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)
This is much longer than I intended to write but I want you to understand, you are important to Jesus, to the Church and to me. Please, throw off any ideas you had on leadership as understood in the world and start to think with your spiritual mind, the mind of Jesus. Be who Jesus has called you to be, and shine for his glory. I need you.