Whose responsibility is it anyway?
I remember as a young boy growing up that my father instilled a sense of responsibility into all of his children that all of us were a part of the house… that each of us had to contribute in some way if the house was to continue to function. For many years, I always thought that my Dad had me growing up too fast… having me be more responsible than I should have been for a young boy. As a father myself now and having lost my Dad recently, I realize… my father got it right… always expecting a little more of me than I expected from myself and holding me to a higher standard. My Dad didn’t care if his way was popular… he knew he had a responsibility to raise me right… to prepare me to survive in a crazy world, regardless of the ridicule he received because of his approach. Yeah… my Dad got it right… and in so doing, he unknowingly was preparing me for how my heavenly Father expects me to be, how to act, and how to lead… by holding me to a standard that is unaffected by current thought, politics, or emotions. The question is… who’s responsibility is it anyway to lead God’s kingdom?
As participatory as I am at my church, recently, while enjoying church service, I looked around to see how many empty chairs there were. Were the empty chairs the Pastor’s responsibility to fill? After all… he is the one who is supposed to lead his people… isn’t he? I began thinking am I doing all that I could be doing for God’s church on earth? I kept hitting a brick wall… I wasn’t coming up with anything more I could do. Then, as I was leaving… I heard the words “you need to step it up…”, but how? I was active in a number of areas in the church… what more could I do to fill those empty seats during the service?
I need to learn to slow down more… I seem to live in a world of close-to-zero margin… always having something to do. I need to learn to push back more on the demands of my time to create a safe place to rest with my Lord. I believe that doing so can only bless me by allowing my Savior to strengthen and equip me for the days ahead. Daniel 10:19 speaks of this strength in his vision of a man… “Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my Lord, since You have given me strength.” By allowing some additional margin in my day, I came to a defining moment to ask… what was the church? Perhaps stepping it up wasn’t so much about doing more inside the building, but rather becoming a stronger leader so God could use me to support His church body. The church isn’t the building as I was taught as a young child. The Greek term ekklesia refers to church as people who are “called out” by God into His service.
In 1 Timothy 3:5, Paul tells the young evangelist Timothy that if an elder does not know how to rule his house, “how shall he take care of the church of God?” Additionally, Paul tells Timothy that he is writing so that he may know how he ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). What a privilege to be called to be a leader in the church of Jesus Christ, His Bride, His Army, and His Family! I believe this is why God’s Word has laid before us challenging requirements for Christian leadership. The standards are high, not only for the sake of the church’s vitality but also for the sake of the leader’s vitality. If each of us could shift our focus to consider ourselves as potential leaders for God’s church… imagine the possibilities!
There are a number of biblical readings related to leadership and the requirements needed for leadership development… all centered on commitment, conviction, competency, and character. Are we deeply committed to Jesus as Savior and Lord? Do we have a passion to know Him in all of His glory? Not everyone expresses passion the same, but one thing is clear… there must be a fire within us to know the One who died for all sin. Do we have biblically-based convictions about who Jesus is, who we, as humans are, and the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Do we have the competency to make our way through Scripture? What are we doing with the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Are we developing relational skills to help bring more people to Jesus? Do our relationships manifest the love and integrity of Jesus? Do we demonstrate self-control, hospitality, gentleness, holiness, temperance? Is there evidence of dying to ourselves, of material things, to manipulation? The emphasis of these questions is not the seeking of perfection, but rather direction… we must continue to work so that ours heart are changed so our actions are pleasing to Jesus for “Blessed are they who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:2).
Lord, it isn’t easy to lead. Even with Your masterful ways, Your own people turned their backs on You. Leading is less about watching and correcting and more about listening and connecting with others. Help us to focus less on the love of power and more on the power of love. Lord, as we work to strengthen our role as leader, let us using the model of servant leadership we’ve read about in your son, Jesus. Lord, help us to strengthen our greatest passion in companionship, our greatest strength in love, and our greatest victory in peace. Amen.
Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)