Where I see God
Journal 15: In a Wall Quote
This week I felt God challenge me from a quote on the wall to start looking at leadership differently. Especially within the church.
18 “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 1 Corinthians 12:18-22 NLT
When my husband and I helped lead confirmation at our church a few years back, one of my favorite lessons was called. “We are the Church.” For our lesson, we passed out index cards to each student asking them to write one area where they excelled and something they were passionate about along with their name. We received all kinds of answers to those questions. We then took the cards (previously numbered), put them in order to create a poster sized puzzle. Once taped we turned the puzzle over to reveal a line drawing of our church on the back. The idea: Alone we are a piece of the church; combined, we are the church.
I love that lesson.
Mid last year, I started working on another project with our church trying to connect people who took a spiritual gifts test on our church’s website with areas of service that matched their stronger spiritual gifts. What I discovered was the people who took the test produced a diverse combination of spiritual gifts. God reaffirmed how he created us all so very differently. Yet, God is wooing each person, gifting them in the various areas to help build his church, the body of Christ.
While thinking about the idea of diversity of spiritual gifts in our congregation and population around us, a question came to mind. How do I lead others into a deeper relationship with Christ? Since I often end up in leadership roles in my church, with people who are gifted differently than I am, how do I lead them?
I pondered this for a few days. In that time I took my daughter on a college tour.
While on the tour, I sat listening to dorm information at a parent informational meeting at one of our local Christian universities. It’s a really great school my son attends and my daughter is considering. The tour had us located in their Business College which had a leadership slogan on the wall. It read, “Equipping Leaders to go Further, Faster.”
I’m not sure why it fascinated me, but it did. Since I’ve been contemplating leadership in the church a lot, I sat and just stared at this quote. “Further, Faster” captivated my attention. In our world we are always expecting to go further, faster. Do more with less. Make decisions quickly.
Are we expecting this from the leaders of our church, as well?
Leadership poses an interesting dichotomy within the church. We desire strong leaders in a theology that teaches following as the primary directive. Following Christ grows us closer to Christ. However we live in a culture that defines leadership with terms like further and faster. Do we desire our church leadership to work further, faster? Do we desire them to be so far ahead that as followers we are racing to keep up? Do we desire a detachment in our relationships from the space left in between followers and leaders?
Our culture tends to teach us to all be leaders. Yet our faith comes with a mandate, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21
As I stared at that quote, I thought back to the “We are the Church” lesson and then to the variety of people we have in our congregation. The word “follow” kept reoccurring in my mind.
My question of struggling with “how to lead others to Christ?” suddenly changed to, “How do I follow in such a way that others are led to Christ?”
To follow in Christ’s steps and to invite others to follow with us requires a different kind of leadership. Leadership willing to walk alongside rather than paces in front. Someone leading in the front has to really be careful not to obstruct the view taking the follower’s eyes off Christ. But a leader walking alongside, is able to help, assist, encourage, and mentor while maintaining Christ as the focus. It isn’t a “faster, further,” kind of action. It is however, a constant motion of movement towards Christ. Plus, it is what Christ modeled. Christ ministered among his people. He encouraged relationship building and spoke with his followers while walking beside them.
Leading in the church requires being a good follower first. At least, that’s what I’m going to keep working on. What are your thoughts?