Yesterday in our Home Fellowship meeting we were discussing questions such as, What is the church? What is the church’s purpose? Why does the church exist? If you were to start a church from scratch in 2011 Burlington, VT, and sincerely use the scriptures as your guide, what would it look like? As we were reading through different scriptures from the Message (a modern paraphrase of the Bible), this section from 1 Corinthians 12 in particular stood out:
17 If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? 18 As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. 19 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. 20 What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. 21Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? 22 As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way – the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach.
One big reason I cannot get this out of my head is that this is a HUGE challenge and temptation for many leaders. I’ve seen several leaders make the subtle shift from leading a ministry that is laser beam focused on the mission and message of Jesus to making the central focus my vision, my passions, my preferences, and my strengths. They’ve often unwittingly shifted their church’s identity from the person of Jesus to the personality of the pastor. The result is a one-eyed monstrosity.
As I pray through the tension of how to lead a group of people to follow Jesus without making it about me, two phrases come to my mind: humble-confidence and gentle-firmness. Neither of these phrases will make any sense unless the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind them. I need to have a humble-confidence in how God has gifted me as a leader. This confidence is rooted in God as the source of my strengths and this humility is because I know that these strengths are ultimately given to me for God’s purposes and to benefit others. I also need to have a gentle-firmness concerning God’s vision for our ministry here. Firmness because I know it is clearly rooted in the gospel and the scriptures. Gentleness because God has shown me great patience and I want to see His Spirit change people’s hearts.
Below are several BIG QUESTIONS I need to continue praying through:
- Do I make my gifts, my personality, my passions, and my calling the center of attention or Jesus’ message and mission?
- Do I view our church as a team where every member has significance, makes the team stronger, and enables us to better display Jesus?
- Am I proactively intentionally seeking to discover, affirm, and utilize the gifts, talents, and strengths of others?