I read a book recently called, The Disciple of Joy. A man obviously called by God to lead in ministry with almost 20,000 coming to Christ, being discipled and following the call of God through baptism. Unfortunately he did not plan his leadership transition well and when he died, his family argued over the ministry and it fell completely apart. Reminds me of what happened when Joshua died.
Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and worshiped the Baals; and they abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; they followed other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were all around them, and bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord, and worshiped Baal and the Astartes. – Judges 2:11-13 NRSV
God seemed to have something in mind between the leadership of Peter and Paul. He introduced Stephen for a very short time.
What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit – Acts 6:5 NRSV
Stephen reminds me that leadership in the hands of God, even if it is brief, can catapult the gospel to the whole world – giving hope to those that hear – from a leader who is selfless and fearless.
So why do bad things happen to good leaders – how could others follow God when Stephen was killed? Amazing for me to see how many people in the Middle East have become Christians when they watch them die for their faith. That did not happen with Jeremiah and if there is one prophet I would not want to be – it would be Jeremiah. At one point Jeremiah even doubted, just for a moment that God might be a liar because the pain of leadership would not go away.
Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail. – Jeremiah 15:18 NRSV
So my leadership marks a particular question for me – how does God respond to me? So I look to God to perform something in my life everyday. I come like the leper…
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. – Mark 1:40-42 NRSV
Lord, may my life always be marked by repentance and a turning to You. May I find my strength in Your joy, my hope in Your faithful promises and my forgiveness in Your grace. You are the one that leads me and I pray that as I follow You, as close as I can, that others may see Your eyes in mine.