Monday, November 10, 2008

Leading In The Journey of Church Life

Where does responsibility lie for direction, mission, vision, and more? We live in a world that is rapidly becoming obsessed with front line managers, due to poor upper management in the church. Jesus Himself was on the front lines in much of His ministry. The fact is that for many of us in smaller church leadership we are always in a front line leadership role, even if we don’t want it. We will likely never have the luxury of some larger church leaders who are in their offices with several people to go through to get to them. This doesn’t change the fact that we still must lead the people before us.

In change and direction God will usually give us the lead, and in fact we will likely be the first to see needed direction and change for the churches we lead. In leadership the “Trickle Down Theory” still has a vital place. I have been reminded of my leadership roles, by God in recent weeks.

Our church has been going through a rebuilding process, since my decision last spring to make a staffing change. Some left and some remained angry and concerned for quite some time. We have also had an influx of newer people, which has filled that gap of those who left. Now I have felt the need to work to unite the new and the old. I am realizing that I am the catalyst to bring them together.

God has led me back to Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a front line leader, but he was also behind the scenes. Much like Moses he would go about encouraging people, but God directed in their lives long before the other leaders or the people. Moses was the go between, and in battle he let the people fight, while he remained in prayer and held his hands to God. Trust me he was in the battle, and was the greatest encourager to those below who could see his hands held high.

Nehemiah was impressed upon by God to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. The wall was a foundation for the Jews. It meant security, hope, a future, and a uniting home for their nation. Jerusalem was their capital of faith and national unity, and the wall meant the capital was secure. Nehemiah led the direction to rebuild the wall, and rebuild the people. The wall took only a few months to build under the direction and encouragement of Nehemiah. Yet, the reforms of the people took over twelve years.

To be united as God’s people Nehemiah led the people in national and spiritual reform. He implemented policy and gave spiritual direction to the people lost in their way. This is much of the goal of a pastor today, even in smaller churches. We are given the vision and we must lead in the necessary change.

I gave the following illustration in church yesterday. I disassembled a large wooden cross we keep in storage, and I gave various screws, supports, a drill, a battery, and a bit for driving screws out to people of all ages through out our church. Then to illustrate the leadership’s need in direction and the plan, I held a large paper with the words “THE PLAN” written on one side. The back of the paper was blank, but I called people up one by one with their parts. I asked some if they could see the plan to what I was building, and a few recognized what it was, and said yes. Others said it’s blank, and I shared two valuable points about leading. One, the leaders often sees what others have yet to envision. Secondly, those who have been somewhere with God before can see clearly where we are going.
I had planned to help them reassemble this cross, but a 5th grade boy took the drill and said, “We’ve got it. You need to let us do it.”
While I shared the importance of teamwork, and how the city worked under Nehemiah’s encouragement the group of people ranging from preschool to middle age built the cross behind me. It took about ten minutes to assemble the cross and stand, but the people got the point. I was reminded in the midst of all of this of a valuable point too. The people have to take up the cause, just as that fifth grader said. We must lead, and we must be going through encouraging and directing, but the people must take up the cause of Christ.
Jesus was on the front lines, but he was also behind the disciples directing, teaching, and leading them to do far more than he could do alone. We must be taking the time to hear God’s direction, and we must lead the people to carry out the vision He has given. God has called you and me as leaders to lead in His cause, for His glory.

- Keep up the journey with Jesus today.

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