Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Leadership : Not What You Think

One of the greatest problems facing the Church today is our attitude toward leadership. It goes beyond our expectation of perfection from leaders, even though we make allowances for such imperfections in others. No, it goes to the very foundation of understanding leadership in the body of Christ. Let's start where we should, with Jesus:

“You know that those who rule the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around.  But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.  Whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave— just as the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Here we find our first problem with leadership in the Church that is modeled after the world. Those chosen by the Spirit to be "leaders" are chosen to be servants. They aren't CEOs or small governors. Instead, they are modeled after Jesus, leading as he led, by serving. We see this clearly in Ephesians 4:

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ  until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

The purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers is not to set up a group of elite priests so everyone else can sit back and take it easy. No, these individuals are set aside for some of the toughest and dirtiest work in the Church, to help babies become mature adults, so that s mature adults they can be busy with the Kingdom work. These "leaders" are nursemaids, tutors, examples, mentors. They are those the Lord sends to walk with people for a while on their journey, helping them to understand and to grow. They are not the heads of the Church. There is only one head and his name is Jesus. They are not businessmen or managers. They are diaper changers and hand-holders. They are prayer warriors and those who are able to instruct with the Word, to correct, admonish, warn, encourage, lift up, cheer on.

These people deserve our respect and support because they pay a very high price for their calling, or at least the ones who are being servants are paying a high price. It is a privilege to have them in our lives even if they are a pain in the neck because we don't always like what they say. Scripture tells us:

Obey your leaders and do what they say. They are watching over you, and they must answer to God. So don’t make them sad as they do their work. Make them happy. Otherwise, they won’t be able to help you at all. (Hebrews 13:17)

The sense of leadership here is the same as Jesus conveyed. What good is a teacher if you are unwilling to learn? What good is a councilor if you are not willing to follow the council given? What good is an apostle, evangelist and such if you are not willing to trust?

We get too caught up with perfection for those called to serve in these callings, but they are people like all the rest of us. They will mess up and we must trust that Jesus will correct and restore as he does with all of us. I am tired of seeing us running our churches as people in the world run their businesses. We are missing the mark and we need to seek the will of our Lord in these matters.

If you are tempted to criticize your pastor, keep in mind what happened to Moses. The elders misunderstood Moses and could not understand the cost of his calling, the price he paid all the time to advocate for them with Yahweh. They came against him:

"You’ve gone too far, because the entire community is holy, every last one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Lord ’s assembly?" (Numbers 16:3)

O Lord, forgive them, they don't know. How often have our pastors prayed that over us? We criticize what we do not understand. We don't know how many nights of interrupted sleep they have had. We have no idea how many crisis they are walking through with people. We have no idea the weight of the many activities that they carry. They are servants and they do not need us to make their load any heavier. How much better for us when we make their service a thing of joy.

We need a better understanding of spiritual leadership in the Kingdom of God.

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