A POSSIBLE YOU
FINDING GOD’S DESTINY FOR YOUR LIFE
FOLLOWING CHRIST – LEADING OTHERS
I have been spending many hours with my Seminary course work and have learned some interesting information about being a spiritual leader. This past winter I had been plowing through subjects such as advanced leadership and church administration and though these can get boring they are an important part of learning how to establish a structure and facilitate within an organization. Some may say that all we need to have is a Bible and a guitar and in a sense this may be true, however when an assembly begins to grow and many different types of skills and personalities come together, it is good to have a leader that is at least somewhat qualified to make good spiritual and practical decisions. Others will comment that all we need to do is listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His direction. Again, this is absolutely true but we must also be flexible enough in our thinking to at least consider that God can “lead” within an organized ministry. Christ is not against organization – He is against organization without obeying His voice. Obviously, He has called pastors to help with His sheep along with deacons, teachers, apostles, evangelists, missionaries, counselors and musicians just to name a few. Even Jesus Himself experienced large crowds and needed His core group of leaders to help Him manage and coordinate with order and authority. His ministry was the perfect example and left us a wonderful legacy that we should follow.
As a spiritual leader in today’s world, it is crucial to have self-discipline in many different areas. Of course leaders are not perfect, but they need to free from the bondages of intentional sin and have a desire and determination to be holy. We have spoken of love being the center point of all things and it takes a lot of prayer to grow in love. It is difficult to know what comes first, the prayer for love or the love for prayer, but either way they are impossible to separate. We can say this with all confidence that no one can be successful in God’s work without having a heart filled with love and the self-discipline to stay in an attitude of prayer. Selah. These are the foundations for leadership which brings us back to resisting the temptation to NOT “micro-manage” everything just because we are in authority. True leaders realize they cannot do it all and must select other strong leaders to make a “team” and to have confidence in those who support the vision. Senior Pastors must have a working understanding of how to “delegate” responsibilities to strong leaders even if they have different ideas because everyone can add perspective as long as they are unified in the purpose and goals. When there are many different opinions of vision and an absence of loyalty and respect for the senior pastor, the church becomes a stagnant pool of chaos and resentment. This is where many churches decline from a thriving environment of genuine excitement to a corporate atmosphere of strife and discouragement. Along with order and structure within the church there must be confidence and trust for the leader, but this will require humility and you guessed it – love and prayer! It is PRIDE that causes a team member to think they can do it better or the direction is not correct. This stinking attitude becomes much worse when shared to other members and eventually the thoughts and “justifications” reach the congregation. People are like sheep and become very worried and nervous when they are afraid. Discovering leadership problems within the church causes the members to doubt that certain individuals are listening to the Lord and this causes the brain to go on “high alert.” I have witnessed this in church and the panic spreads like an ugly disease with each person calling the other and discussing the possibilities of the unknown. This evil spirit of strife will cause God to become angry and His Spirit of peace will pull away which leaves the anxiety and the negativity that comes from carnality. How many churches have suffered with this pride that was the original sin of Lucifer?
Many times we say that we want the “freedom” to do whatever we want, but in all reality even Jesus did not teach this style to His disciples. It was His desire (and ours) that we only do what the Father tells us to do, and in that sense there is a built-in order that not only “leads” us into truth, but also “protects” us from deception. I say all of this as a reminder for all of you that belong to an assembly of believers – please say an “extra” prayer for your leader because they have a difficult path to walk. As members, we usually only see a small fraction of what they do – and we use that knowledge to conclude that leading is easy. What we do not realize is the other 99 percent of stress and labor they minister in that we never hear about. Also, do not think that Satan does not realize how important it is to attack those in spiritual authority because it has such a devastating effect on the church. The leaders need to have all of the protective prayer “armor” they can receive because of the large bull’s-eye that is on their back. I just feel like I need to say a little more before we move on. The reason why we do not always hear about what the pastor does in their ministry is because when people come to them with personal problems, the individuals do not want anyone to know what they were discussing. Likewise the pastor does not go around telling everyone who they counseled and what it was about. Even visiting the sick and incarcerated are most of the time never mentioned because it is only meaningful to those who received comfort. The call to the ministry is from heaven and a burden that God puts within the heart of those who have been chosen. Those who work in God’s harvest fields are DRIVEN by the burden, passion and conviction of the Holy Spirit like a fire that is shut up within their being. And of course, no one really knows how many hours per week that is invested in Bible study, sermon preparation and prayer. People will say; they need to spend that much time studying because that is what we are paying them for! Well, I agree that pastors need to spend their time wisely but the office of a pastor is a “called” spiritual endeavor and is selected by God to accomplish a certain mission at a specific place. Giving the pastor money may help their family financially but it is not the same as hiring someone to roof your house.
A truly anointed and called man of God is a servant of the Most High whether you pay them or not. The representation of God’s Kingdom through the work of the ministry does not depend on dollars which means that no human can take the glory for what is done. (In fact, God probably uses the unknown person that is not associated with any type of religious organization MORE than those who draw a salary! Rewards will be given in the next life to those that are not seen on TV or heard on the radio but who stayed on their knees in prayer and loved and helped everyone that God sent to them). Many times the pastor is taken for granted (the same as God) and is not given respect until they are needed to do something for us. The world of church is an odd thing because members think they understand all that goes on and are convinced they know everything about it, yet these same individuals that have been in the church all their life are way more concerned with the color of the carpet, how much is spent on children’s supplies or which bakery the donuts coming from, than their responsibility to be a FERVENT prayer warrior! Selah. The very ones that have grown lazy and lethargic is the reason why we need revivals, yet these are the same committee members who proclaim that we need to invite a fired up evangelist to preach to the lost (?). One of the hindrances in church is having so many opinions but actually getting nothing accomplished or making the wrong decisions because those on the board are NOT being led by the Holy Spirit! In fact, it would be sobering to learn how many church members have never been born-again. It is easy to see if churches are not more discerning in their planning strategies they can become as stagnant and ineffective as the red tape of government! We cannot replace prayer with organization! Usually in a “normal” church EVERYONE is willing to do something. The ninety percent are perfectly willing to allow the ten percent to do all the work! (Sad) The interesting point to note is that it’s also usually the ninety percent that does all the complaining.
Is it alright if I keep going? As the old preachers would say when it would get real quiet, “don’t shout me down because I’m preaching so good!” You see, the leader is definitely important to any church, but the church is not built on the talents and abilities of one person. The same way an army or a sports team cannot succeed on the accomplishments of one individual – no matter how awesome they are. As we said earlier, the view of the church in general has become distorted because of how the members perceive them “HIRING” a minister to work for THEM. For example, when we hire someone to mow our yard, do we go out there and help them unload their machines? When we hire a mechanic to work on our car do we crawl underneath with our wrenches to give them a hand? No. This has caused a subconscious attitude within the church where the members believe their contribution to the assembly is to come on Sunday and listen to the sermon, the music and relax in the comfortable pews and air conditioning they have “paid for”. They are not really worried about doing anything else because they believe that falls under the category of the pastor’s responsibility. It is this “spectator mentality” that has been crippling not only the church but the Kingdom of God and ALL OF US! Now – back to what I intended to write about from the beginning.
After I finished with the long and intense course on business administration, I plunged into the fascinating study of the book of Mathew. I have been trying to finish a large portion of school work since I have retired as I have more time during the day to devote to this. I want to complete my degree this spring and continue tweaking on my book, “Wonders of Worship” and publish it this fall. Nonetheless, in my research of many commentaries on the Mount Olivet discourse, I began to examine my heart and search from within my own life just how committed I am to the “Gospel” of Christ. Mathew chapter 24 and 25 are so packed with revelation that it would be good to read them consistently with much prayer and meditation. This week I wrote a 45 page summary as part of a course just on the first 14 verses of Mather chapter 24 and honestly, I did not scratch the surface. As I dissected these scriptures and read parts of several different books and many articles, I felt the familiar presence of Christ convicting me of my lukewarmness. What I felt the Lord was asking me; do you really believe these are the last days? I said yes – then I wondered why am I acting like it’s no big deal? Am I that ASLEEP? Have I become so numb and calloused to the concept of the Second Coming of Christ that I have become a religious zombie? Why am I acting like everything is fine, like I have nothing to do but go sit on top of a mountain and wait for the sky to split open? Do you mean to tell me that if an angel appeared to us today and told us that Jesus was coming next Thursday that we would NOT do anything different than we would normally? Just ponder that thought for a moment. What exactly would you do if you knew without a doubt He was coming in four days? Take a piece of paper and write down what you would do, and there is an excellent probability that what you have written is a word directly from the Lord about what you SHOULD be doing NOW! This should answer any doubts or questions about receiving a word directly from God connected to the urgency and responsibility of our personal mission.
I know that much of the first half of Chapter 24 seems so familiar because we have heard it so often. Sadly, I believe that many of the wonderful passages of God’s Word have become dull to us and our heart has grown calloused to the beauty and power of His voice. When Jesus mentions earthquakes, wars and false prophets we begin to yawn because these have been in the news since we were born. And of course, the church has taught that the bride is ready to fly out of here at any moment and so when Jesus continues into the chapter about the tribulation, we just turn the page and start reading somewhere else because we have been taught that we will not face these trials, hardships or persecutions. One point that I am trying to make is these scriptures are some of the most life-changing words that have ever been spoken and it is time within our Christian journey to pay very close attention to them. It is the HOUR to open our Bibles in reverential fear and read through these passages slowly and carefully because they were written to you and me for such a time as this! The Christian life is all about spiritual AWARENESS and when Christ abides in our conscience – we will reflect His image. Selah.