Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Radical Leader

I don't normally post more than one blog a week, so forgive me if it seems like I am inundating you a bit. I am taking a little time "off" this week but, as often happens, God seems to reveal Himself and to find me in the idle moments.

Some time ago I wrote a post about the radical life to which we are all called. I firmly believe that God calls us to a radical faith and to a radical life lived for Christ. In fact, I don't see how you can spend any meaningful time in the Bible and not come to that same conclusion.

In my original post, I commented on the observation of John Wesley -- a founder of the Methodist Church -- that from the beginning there have been two types of Christians. Paraphrasing, the first are people who attend church regularly and generally try to do the right thing, but who in the end are mostly indistinguishable from their neighbors. The second group of Christians constantly hunger for the Word. They approach their faith with great zeal. They try their best to put God first in all things. You get then point.

In his great sermon "The More Excellent Way" Wesley took great pains to make it clear that he was in no way condemning Christians who are not as serious about their faith as others -- they too have their salvation. Rather, he was attempting to convict those people -- to urge them to let the Spirit guide them into a deeper relationship with Jesus -- to pursue the "more excellent way."

This week as I was thinking about "the Church" with it's various forms and denominations, it occurred to me that just as there are two types of Christians, there are also (at least) two types of Christian leaders. There are leaders who are probably content to get a certain number of people in the door every Sunday and who earnestly desire to leave those people in a slightly better place than where they started. There are leaders who have no real expectation that their congregations will be markedly distinct from their neighbors. Their are leaders who probably are afraid that if they don't give their congregations what they want their ministries will fail. And then, there is a more excellent way of leadership.

There are, without a doubt, leaders in the Church today who are far more concerned about what their congregations need than what their congregations want. There are leaders in the Church today who have a desperate desire to get closer and closer to God themselves, and who desperately want the same thing for the people they serve. There are leaders in the Church today who want the saints in their congregations to shine like the lamp on the hill -- to truly be salt and light to the world. Their are leaders in the Church today who are less concerned about the "personal happiness" of the people in their congregations than they are about challenging their flocks to roll up their sleeves and work together to spread the Gospel throughout the world and to disciple believers.

There are leaders in the church today who truly love the people they serve. Leaders who share in the joy of the people in their congregations and mourn when they mourn. There are leaders who, no matter how "successful" they may be, approach their responsibilities with great humility -- secure in the knowledge that God has called them despite their limitations, their imperfections and their own struggles (indeed, because of their limitations, their imperfections and their own struggles!). The fact that God has called you to leadership should, above all things, be incredibly humbling!

There are many in the Church today who believe that the end times are close at hand. Personally, I have no idea if that is right. And, on some level I don't have any desire to know. I guess I believe that if I just keep my eyes on Jesus I will be ready for anything.

Whether it's because the end times are near or for some other reason, I do believe that we are in a very special time. I believe that God is doing a lot of sifting. I think that churches and church leaders are being challenged. In a culture that is increasingly self-centered, and that increasingly rejects the idea that there is ultimately something called "truth", I believe that God is giving churches and church leaders the opportunity either to cave in to the culture or to stand firm on the veracity of the Gospel.

I urge you, my friends, to be in constant prayer for the Church in America (and around the world) today. Pray for strong leaders who are servants first, who approach their responsibilities both with confidence and humility, and who are singularly focused on God's will for themselves and for those they serve.

For yourselves, love God first and learn to love one another as Jesus calls us to do. You are the Church!

1 comment:

Joel Kois said...

And you wonder why....well said my friend, well said. Let's Roll!

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