Leadership in the local church has been a theme in my life lately, and I'm on a quest to understand better how God intended it to work. Our pastor began a sermon series last Sunday on how he believes Scriptural leadership is ordained by God and what it should look like. This Sunday an overseer of our church was visiting and also spoke on this subject.
God has called our church to focus on the harvest and we've recently changed our name to reflect this call and are close to starting to build a new addition onto our building. Whether the enemy is working extra hard right now to thwart that call, or God is highlighting a pattern of weakness in how we handle offences so he can change us, or both, we have experienced a number of people leaving because of offences against the leadership.
There is no question church leadership is needed. The overseer gave an example of watching a flock of sheep get frightend and start stampeding. Whichever sheep happened to be in front and what ever direction he was headed the rest followed. If another sheep gained the lead position and jagged a different way the whole herd changed course and followed the new leader. From a distance it was quite humorous to observe their zigzaggedy flight.
It is no compliment to us to be compared to sheep. But God knows how needy and vulnerable we are and he created leadership to direct, nuture and care for us. Leaders have an awesome responsibility before God and will someday stand and give an account to him for how they shepherded the sheep under their care. But we too, as followers have a responsibility to honor, trust and respect those caring for us. Will we allow someone's accusation against leadership to raise suspicions in us, or is our first response to give the benefit of the doubt to the leaders? When there are wrong things done in leadership God has graciously provided a way to work things out (Matt. 18) and a proper method to follow. It's not a blind trust, but neither is the church a place for everyone to do as he pleases and according to what seems right in his own eyes.
While there is less respect for authority in the world today and popular thought says individual rights should be demanded and accessed at all costs, the church can show a different form of response to government. I haven't always gotten this right and my attitudes have not always lined up with God's desires in this area. I'm asking him to help me learn his ways and to walk in obedience, and I'm asking him to keep helping my local church to get this right.
I'm thankful that God has established the church to be his vehicle for bringing his kingdom here to earth. He called some to be leaders, and gave them as gifts to his people. They prepare us for service, build us up, help us become mature, and teach us the truth so we aren't tossed around by false teaching and deceit. The ultimate goal is for all of us to grow up into Christ who is the head, our Lord. (Eph. 4:11-15) I'm thankful I have Godly leaders in my life, who love the church and are men of integrity and honor.
What about you? Are you experiencing healthy church leadership and healthy sheep response? Or what has God taught you in this area that you can share with me?