‘And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).’
As I peruse web pages, websites, social media, etc., I come across articles by church leaders, and leaders of associations and denominations of churches, and I’m amazed that many of them are overwhelmed with their burdens. They are tired, worn out, and despairing. Often these people see themselves as the linchpins of the ‘organisations’ they are paid to be in charge of. They find it difficult to delegate, or even to trust those ‘under’ them. More amazingly, some see themselves as being a cut above those whom they ‘supervise’.
They say they have a good CV. They went to a university, they completed a training course at a seminary, and they believe their administrative skills, their leadership qualities, organisational ability, general knowledge will get them through. They are well qualified, so they are perplexed why they are suffering from burnout, depression, and on the brink of a mental breakdown.
“Why am I having such a difficult time?” they ask God.
From observations of the things they do and say, the observer might conclude they are being worldly. They are no different to those who don’t believe in God. They show it by telling other people that they are quite ‘normal’, because they love football and support such and such a club. They socialise at their pub [pre Coronavirus lockdown] where they can keep in touch with what’s happening in the world, and where they can make friends. After all, it’s a good place where they can show people what a Christian is like. It’s a place where he can make friends and he can introduce them to the gospel. He might even invite them to the festival of flowers at His church, where they can rub shoulders with other people who come along on Sunday mornings. Maybe the Holy Spirit will do a miracle, and bring them in?
Somehow, he misses the point, that he, as a Christian, is markedly different, because he is spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:14-16), and he has been born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). Because the Spirit lives in him he lives in a different world: the kingdom of God, where Jesus is his King (cf. John 1:49). Therefore, although he is in the world, he is not of the world (Romans 12:2). This should be his true state.
I ask myself do these ‘Christian’ leaders really hear and understand (Matthew 13:23) the gospel of the good news of the kingdom of God? Nothing could be more simple, and yet so profound.
No Longer Distressed and Overwhelmed
Jesus, the eternal God, came to earth to die in the place of sinners to bring them eternal life (1 John 3:16). This completely transforms believers (2 Corinthians 5:17), although it may take some time for them to mature, for them to grow more and more in the knowledge of Christ, as they devote themselves to living completely for Him. They read His word, pray, and serve the fellowship. As they grow in God’s wisdom they work out their salvation (Philippians 2:12) and prove God’s love for them. They depend upon Him for absolutely everything (cf. Philippians 4:19). They relax in Him and know His peace (John 14:27).
This should be the state of the mature Christian and of those who lead in God’s church. Let them remember that Jesus is the Head (Ephesians 5:23), and the Spirit is the Helper (John 14:16).
No longer are they distressed (Philippians 4:6, 7), but they accept and revel in their difficulties and count them as pure joy (cf. James 1:2). They don’t take the whole world on their shoulders, because Jesus has done it for them (cf. Matthew 11:28-30). Whatever happens, they are comforted in the knowledge that Jesus knows what is happening to them, and He works things out for their good (Romans 8:28). He is with them, even when He seems distant, but in their faith and in the strength of the Holy Spirit they have joy (Romans 14:17). Their goal is the glory of the kingdom – the hope of their inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:18). They can ‘press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God, in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).’
God will not let them down. Unlike men (Psalm 146:3-5), God is ever faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). He is true, He is just, and He is loving. He will never desert them (Hebrews 13:5).
So my prayer for these ‘leaders’ is that they will turn to God and ask for His enabling. Yes, I know they have already done it. I know it is tough and not easy, but if there are battles, let God fight them (2 Chronicles 32:8); for He surely will conquer the enemy.
Let them serve as Jesus did (Matthew 20:28). He humbled Himself as a Servant (Philippians 2:8). Just think about it. The Maker of heaven and earth, the King over all, humbled Himself. How astonishing is that! It could be that instead of ‘hogging’ the preaching ministry, leaders may allow and encourage others to preach. In this way they humble themselves.
Leaders sometimes fail to appreciate that God ‘gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11).’ These are distinct roles. Pastors are not one-man bands that do everything. Why don’t they submit to the Holy Spirit for Him to guide them in the fostering of these callings?
‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).’