We Lead Together

August 28, 2020

For years I have had an inkling that the burden/calling/mantle of Christian leadership was not intended to fall upon the shoulders of the “chosen few”.  Especially me!  Here’s a little background…

When I was in the process of discerning the call to pastoral leadership around 15-18 years ago, I would pore through books on Christian leadership and, in particular, church planting.  The message was clear—charismatic and gifted leaders would discern the leading of the Holy Spirit and rally others to his (it was always a “him” back then) side to build a large and “successful” ministry.

Here was my problem…I was never fully convinced that I was discerning the leading of Holy Spirit for the direction and shape of the church plant.  I wanted others to help me to pray and discern the direction and shape of the church plant.  I knew deep down that I, by myself, was not up to the task.  Did that make me doubt my calling and my leadership gifts?  You bet it did!

But through the years I have never lost that inkling.  In fact, with an increase in experience, I have become more convinced that I was correct.  The New Testament model of leadership is for the corporate guidance of a church through a group of spiritually mature “elders” who pray and seek the Lord together.  Why?  For the simple fact that we ALL have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within us distributing to us a variety of gifts that complement one another’s.  

1 Corinthians 12:12-22 says, “12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

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. 

Acts 13 gives an example of the early church’s leadership model.  Corporately, the voice of the Holy Spirit was discerned for “setting apart Paul and Barnabbas for the work to which I have called them”.  In Acts 15, the most explosive issue facing the church (regarding the observance of Jewish traditions among the Gentile converts) was resolved corporately.

Richard Foster writes about Jesus teaching leadership to his disciples.  He says, “With quiet persistence Jesus showed them what it meant to live in response to the voice of the Father.  He taught them that they, too, could hear the heaven-sent voice and most clearly when together.  ‘If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt. 18:19-20).  

In those words Jesus gave his disciples both assurance and authority.  There was the assurance that when a people genuinely gathered in His name His will could be discerned.  The superintending Spirit would utilize the checks and balances of the different believers to ensure that when their hearts were in unity they were in rhythm with the heartbeat of the Father.  Assured that they had heard the voice of the true Shepherd, they were able to pray and act with authority.  His will plus their unity equaled authority.”

There is already a charismatic and gifted leader in God’s church and His Name is Jesus!  His subordinates are called to seek, hear, and obey his voice together.

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