Have you ever felt like the fly on the wall…. unable to effect change in a situation but completely aware of the situation? For the past few months i have been observing something that is perplexing, and at the root a very spiritual matter. There seems to be a growing lack of respect for one another, and a growing gap in strong leadership. We see this with our nation, and the devastating economic decisions our current president has put in place. But it rolls down to even the local church. For the last decade there has been much written about Cleveland being void of strong leadership, whether in business, civic affairs, government or in the faith community. There are some shining stars with strong communicative skills, but you must agree with me that there is a void.
Lets go back to basic physics – when there is a void, a vacuum will draw in what it can to neutralize and standardize pressure to match that which is without. In civic life we are seeing power hungry people who may not always use power and position well…. Take the recent cuyahoga county scandals as an example that position does not beget good moral character. Yes, these leaders make decisions that shape our lives in small and great ways.
In the church we are seeing that vacuum being filled with people who self appoint to ministry. We are seeing people who do not have the gifting for leadership attempting to cease power, and accomplish ministry often in their own strength and wisdom. Dangerous place to be…. both for those leaders, and for the rest of the church. Some of these people have not wrestled deeply with their own sin scars first. Some lead with their own wisdom, not thinking of the impact it has on others. Scripture is clear that the church is to be guarded, and those who are brought into leadership should be scrutinized, “fruit inspected” for evidence that they are mature, knowledgeable and teachable, yet strongly able to uphold the solid doctrines of God’s Word as they point people to Jesus. There must always be a gentle yet firm protection of the flocks of God.
I take scripture seriously. I know that many passages about leadership are written with the utmost warning to not be eager to rush into the role because there will be a greater scrutiny, a greater judgement because of the role. And every action, word, and way of dealing with life should fall into the complete surrender of Jesus first. Ministry should come out of a greater work done by the Lord in our life and used as a gift to the church to draw people to the Lord. Joni Erickson Tada speaks to a world about the hope in spite disability; Ravi Zacharias reaches the intellectual world with clear logic and the power of God’s word to break through the barriers of humanwisdom; Billy Graham reached out to the world with the simplicity of the gospel, and we have seen the spirit of God move a world to seek God. Lives yielded to God, surrendering to leadership of the spirit of God, willing to learn, grow, be discipled, and in turn give to the church those gifts they have received from God. Each leader should have key qualities:
- The heart of a Servant – Following the example of Jesus, a good leader is surrendered to Jesus, and willing to serve, never holding themselves above another. They are willing to do what it takes to advance the kingdom. Leadership may be very public, or the quiet strength behind the scenes, but the heart attitude is one of humble willingness.
- Teacher/Mentor – Always thinking of each situation as a teachable moment, willing to pour into others what God has given them, modeling how to live rightly, communicating the principles of the scripture with clarity through not just speech, but through how they live. Always desiring to point people to Jesus. (“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. – Titus 1:9-14)
- Protector/Stewart – Each believer should take seriously the importance of holding God’s Word rightly: Knowing the truth of scripture, actively learning and studying to know what the truth is, and fiercely guarding that truth in order to prevent error from slipping in. We are responsible for what we learn, and how it is shared with others.
- Have good moral character – Scripture is clear that not everyone should lead. Leaders should have shown by their lives that their moral character is stellar, their family life is in order, and they exhibit discipline. All of this should be evident by their reputation as that of respect and honor.
- Teachable – How many people in scripture learned the role through a process of being discipled, growing in knowledge, watching and learning how their mentor played out life. Moses had Joshua; Elijah had Elisha; and on it goes.
These are challenging qualities that come not from self will to be like this, but through the power of God, and his annointing and direction to lead. Leaders are called by God, powered by gifts the Spirit gives, and motivated by the move of God in their lives.
As i write this post my heart is heavy for several things i have heard of late… incidents where someone is in leadership that ought not be…yet. They seem to disrespect their position enough to misuse it, and are causing a wake of grief, strife and hurt feelings. My heart is heavy for these situations. It is not good that such things happen. The impact of one person who mishandles the position of leadership is a lot like a rock being thrown into a lake. The waves ripple out and touch everyone in the area… Each time a leader thinks more highly than they ought of themselves crushing others around them, the delicate sanctity of the church family is compromised. Each time those who are leaders overlook biblical principles and fill a void with someone that is not meeting the criteria of leadership another ripple is felt by the body. That vacuum of leadership is not filled with what should be there, but with a compromised filler and the church is a little weaker, becomes a bit more vulnerable to attacks from the enemy, or the subtle compromise of other principles of scripture. Each time this happens the church becomes a bit more weak, more vulnerable to spiritual attack, teaching of error, and crushing of believers.
What can we do?
- Above all else, pray. Take this to the Lord, and ask for intervention
- If you are a leader, stand up to the role, take it seriously, and put on a careful sense of scrutiny of the church
- If you are a leader, hold fast to the Word of God, study to show yourself approved, and by all means teach others.
- Confront error in a biblical manner – speak with the person, and if they do not listen take another person and speak with them again. If this is still unsuccessful, take them to the leadership of the church
- Speak out for truth
- Be responsible for your own life, your spiritual walk – and keep seeking, growing, studying so you know truth from error
- Pray alot, pray hard, remain in prayer
- Be responsible for mentoring someone else, and being mentored by someone.
Its a challenging age we live in, and we need to have strong leadership that will guard and protect, teach and model, and will guard truth with everything in their souls. We as the flock of God can become responsible for growing, knowing what is truth, and for praying for our leaders. And leaders need to step up to the role, and take it seriously. Very seriously… because eternity hangs in the balance.