Feeds:
Posts

Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

In a world full of people who have not cultivated the discipline of listening to others before judging them, Christians have the unique opportunity to model the guiding principles within Christian faith that we call grace and compassion. In a time when it seems that we are increasingly likely to hear of violent reactions of a person or group of people toward another because of the perception that the other is evil or inferior in some way, God’s children have a special calling to do more than just react.

Human wisdom and conventional, worldly logic tell us that it is time to fight, to take, to oppose and to exact revenge. Fear, hate, and violence are heaped upon fear, hate, and violence. Yet God interrupts us today with a different outlook and a different path.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:38-41 ESV).

This is addressing our tendency to react. This is not addressing the call to bring what is wrong in our society into alignment with God’s Kingdom. We MUST oppose racism. We MUST oppose the wrongful oppression of others. We MUST oppose the taking of the lives of innocents.

But, as God’s people, we also must NOT allow the evil of others to be the agents of our thinking, saying, and doing of evil things. The Lord Jesus was addressing the evil in us as we take into our own hands the parceling out of judgment on others who have in our minds offended us. And He reminds us that He does not treat us that way. Instead, He patiently works to bridge the divide that exists between us and Him because of our sin and graciously bring us out of sin’s bondage into a genuine relationship with Himself even though we do not deserve it.

One test for whether or not our reaction to the harm that others have caused us is in whether or not that reaction is ultimately redemptive. Will my response help us to overcome what divides us or will it only drive us farther apart? To those who are tempted to say, “We must get others back for what they have done,” they clearly do not understand – or trust – that God is on His throne and will ultimately call every single deed, every thought and every word, into account. How very sobering because every one of us ultimately must stand before Him (see 1 Peter 4:5).

But what grace and mercy He has shown us in that while we all fall short, we may experience His forgiveness and, as we do so, we may extend that same mercy and forgiveness to others. This is what God’s grace does as it grabs hold of us and sets us free. As Christians today, the platform has been given to us to now show what real grace and real love look like. After all, we have the best picture of all in the sacrifice that Jesus did on the cross when He gave His life for sinners like you and me.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

Nothing shows us what is really important in life as does an imminent tragedy.  Nor is there anything that show us what is really true about ourselves as does a crisis.  These things have a knack for stripping away the layers of lazy assumptions and pretensions we like to live by because they are comfortable, ego-inflating, and don’t require growth and adjustment on our parts.

Whatever I might fear about the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and assume about human nature’s response to it, the bottom line is that much of what is going on right now is out of my control.  And because these things are outside of the realm of my ability to control them, I, like you, must wrestle with how to respond.  Yes, I can wash my hands (and will); I can keep social distance (and will); and I can take my vitamins (and will, at least while I have them).  But that is pretty much as far as it goes.  I can’t control the spread of the virus worldwide, the volatility of the stock market, the bulk-buying panic of others, and can’t even guarantee that I won’t get the virus.  There is a lot more out of my control than there is in it.

Because of this, human nature, on the one hand, tends to draw me to self-protective and reactionary responses to the circumstances around me.  I can stockpile, compete for what seems like disappearing resources, live in fear of others, and act aggressively to either protect my family or to go beyond and exploit others if given the chance (as is found in price-gouging, etc.).  I can live fearfully and through my fearfulness encourage a similar response from others who feel threatened by me and the lengths I would go to take care of myself.

Similarly, I might be inclined to be angry about the reactions of others, loudly criticizing those who are making decisions that I feel are infringing upon my comforts and ease.  I might be in a state of denial and be willing to run the risk of putting others in danger because I am fixated in my pride on the wrongness that I perceive in others.  If this is the case and I am given the opportunity, I would do nothing.

Or I might be tempted to place my faith in people and then assume that they have all the answers.  In a best case scenario, our leaders do not have all the answers and are unsure how to move forward.  The fact is that they are human also and cannot perfectly make the choices that in hindsight they (or we) might have wished that they had.  Human limitations affect leaders because they are human, too.

The challenge then for you and me is to recognize that which transcends human limitation and to come under its protection and provision.  The Bible honestly deals with human frailty and points us beyond people who cannot live up to all our needs and expectations, directing us to the “wisdom of God” which is personified in Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 1:27-31).

This is the essence of what gives such power to mobilize the children of God to positive and life-saving action:  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV).

If you read that passage carefully, you will see that it allows for the fact that you and I will have afflictions which produce in our hearts the potential of anxiety, sorrow, bitterness, and anger, but if recognized as something allowed by God for our good and illuminated by the hope that we have in our resurrected Savior, can instead instill in us compassion that causes us to rise up out of feeling sorry for ourselves to the need of others who have not yet understood or embraced the hope that you and I have in Jesus.

Is this a time to panic?  Nope.  Is this a time to bar the doors of our homes (and hearts) against others?  Again, no.  Is it a time to be in a mode of denial that foolishly sets us up for the pain of unnecessary consequences?  Absolutely not.  Instead, it is a time for us together as God’s children to allow the light of His love to shine in and through us in real and practical ways.

Loving others is not about a sentiment or positive vibes, but about active and intentional praying for and serving others.  The crisis around you is the stage on which the love of God can be demonstrated for those about you to see.  Be encouraged that God has made promises to you that He fully intends and is fully able to keep.  But you have your part, too.  It is to trust Him enough to climb out of the small box of selfishness that you are tempted to stay in and to love others as Jesus has loved you.  “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV).

Copyright ©  Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

I had thought that I would be writing this week on the matter of Thanksgiving or perhaps an admonishment to beware, this Black Friday weekend, the frenzied lures of greed and covetousness that turn relatively sane and civilized people into barbaric hordes terrorizing retail establishments (all to the liking of those same retail establishments).

However, the explosion in the news of stories of men in power who have reportedly sexually harassed and/or assaulted women, using their position and affluence to force compliance and then to buy silence, underscores the urgent need for dialog among Americans in regard to what it means to be a man and whether or not a man can be a man without also being a sexual predator.

Ultimately, sexual harassment and sexual assaults emanate primarily from what the Bible refers to as sin, a condition that is essentially intertwined with what it means to be human. From this tragic, but intrinsically human quality, flow thoughts, attitudes, actions, habits and lifestyles that erode what God intended for what was in the beginning the crown of God’s creation, humanity which alone among living things bears the image of its creator (Genesis 1:26).

Sexual sin, in all its forms, but certainly including those occasions when a man views and subsequently treats women as mere tools to expedite his own pleasure, is a deviation from God’s purpose and plan. In His plan, men treat women with dignity and honor. What some call “old fashioned”, “gentlemanly” behaviors did not come from out of nowhere nor are they merely quaint notions of how “cute couples” get along, but are born out of a biblical worldview. Holding doors open, standing in a lady’s presence and so forth were specific behaviors that expressed a man’s regard for God’s gift of woman.

So the question arises, is it “normal” for a man to sexually harass women? Is it “okay” and/or “natural” and therefore something we should all just overlook and learn to live with? I most certainly maintain that it is not. In fact, it is an insult to God for men to behave so towards women and an insult to God for us to accept it as a “necessary evil” in regard to men.

Happily, God grants provision for men to rise to a holier (and healthier) attitude towards women. First, there is the gift of His Word, the Bible, the lens of which He bids us view ourselves, our condition, and our need for His help in changing our hearts so that we are not merely at the mercy of any and every compulsion that besets us.

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!… How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word” (Psalm 119:1, 9 ESV).

Secondly, there is the promise of God’s indwelling Spirit. It is, in fact, the Lord’s design for us to live life in cooperation (and in trusting obedience) to His Spirit which then empowers us to avoid the snares and promptings of flesh when our flesh is attempting to commandeer our lives.

“But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17 ESV).

Thirdly, we have the potential for cultivating relationships with others that would encourage a nobler and higher regard for women. There are those men in our lives who have not settled for the lie that men can be assumed to be perverts or predators and therefore strive to remain sexually pure, be maritally faithful, and respectful of women.

These men are placed in such a proximity to your life that they challenge and encourage you to live like men should, courageously and faithfully complementing the work that God does through women who also follow God’s leading for their lives.

Like Paul the Apostle, their lives say, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17 ESV).

They can see the snares of adultery and sexual promiscuity. They have recognized the dangers of pornography and the travesty that it is and how it relegates women to the role of objects of pleasure and how it enslaves men to the pursuit of physical pleasure. Many men have failed at some point but have repented (and not just because they were “caught”) and now seek, with God’s help, to live out the higher calling of viewing others, including women, the way God views them, precious and empowered co-laborers in His kingdom. These men have come to the place where they have taken their sin (not just sexual sin) and placed it under the cross of Jesus Christ and found the forgiveness of God. Seek out such men. Spend time with them. Imitate them but learn, through God’s Word, to imitate Jesus, Who is the ultimate Man.

“… Let us… lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:12b-2 ESV).

If you have failed in the past, take it to the Lord and seek His forgiveness. Seek, where possible, to make right what wrong you have done. And then forsake that hellish mentality that not only turns women into “things” in your heart, but also chains you to a small-mindedness and small-heartedness that makes us look more like Satan than it does our Savior. And finally, seek to walk with God so that you find power to live above lust and pride and live out the love and kindness of Christ.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

Living with the conviction that God’s Word is as true and relevant today as it ever has been is not an easy task, considering that the tides of our culture break upon the cliffs of faith in Christ like a typhoon. Every day we find new cases-in-point, as it were, when we find government officials, iconic pop culture stars, or supposed “academics” who snidely observe that their views on ethics and morality are “evolving”. They suppose that they are using a buzzword that suggests that they have somehow transcended to a higher plane than “lesser beings” who continue to cling to the Bible.

Such disdain for reverent regard for the holy Word of God is found practically in every sphere of life; it can even be found in many churches wherein it is deemed appropriate to abandon a clear confidence in the authority of the Bible in the interest of what Satan likes to call “effective cultural relevance”.

Some will look on the moral plummet of our country and simply shake their heads in helplessness and continue to live life in “survival mode”. Some say our country is “going to hell”” and are ready to wash their hands of everything except of the joy of criticizing others. Perhaps there are a few who take on a violent attitude of retaliation and subsequently plot bombings and shootings as if these things can solve the effects of the spiritual crisis that besets us.

But hope for a return to greatness for America is not found in these things, but rather in what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives. And the spiritual renewal and the resurgence of holiness that God’s people today desperately need is not in “fighting fire with fire” but in humbly turning from worldly thinking and living and returning to genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Repentance, faith, holiness, love, and obedience is what God expects of us today – all things that God has graciously declared to us through the Bible so that we might yet return to Him.

hope for a return to greatness for America is found in nothing but what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives.

Hope for a return to greatness for America is found in nothing but what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives.

Even this presidential election is insufficient in turning our country around and the idea that it can insults God, hindering Him in the transforming work that only His Spirit can do if such activism is not the fruit of following God’s lordship in our lives. The answer to the need of America is found only in Jesus Christ in every area, from disintegrating families to crime, from economic collapse to unemployment, from illegal immigration to lack of healthcare, from drugs to national security and terrorism.

Please hear me carefully: while how we vote (and for whom we vote) is important, it is only important (in a good way) if it truly is the act of worship of a truly humble and God-seeking heart. And by what measure can we hope to know if that kind of heart is the heart beating within our chests? By how we seek to hear from God through His Word and then what we do with what He has said to us.

Our need is for the power of God’s saving grace to enter into our individual lives so that it may then flow into those institutions that reflect the uniting of all who call themselves Americans. Whether they call themselves leaders or simply see themselves as citizens, all need to come to Christ Jesus and none can truly come to Him except by coming to Him in faith and repentance. Such faith and repentance is only truly evidenced in how we listen to the words He has spoken through His Word, the Bible.

And if there has ever been a word that God Himself would speak to Christians in America today, it is most certainly this word:

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked way, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

A friend of mine, on reflecting upon the breathless rate things are moving along, said over lunch with me that we are in times of “white water change.” I doubt that anyone can really disagree with that observation, although people may disagree on how to respond to it.

Whether we like it or not, the world is changing so fast that we may feel hard-pressed to keep pace. And as the world around us changes, our churches are changing, too. As new church families (a.k.a. congregations) are being birthed, and as new generations emerge within the ranks of established churches, it is to be hoped that we see this as an era of a renewed sense of calling along with a renewed resolve to see God glorified and made known while we seek to experience Him working in our lives, our homes and our communities.

As Christians strive to keep up with all this change, it is very easy to feel as if we are being overwhelmed and that we are in danger of being swept away by circumstances that are beyond our control. The collapse of morality, the blitzkrieg of political cutthroats, and the disintegration of the family have become the characteristics of this new day and there is little hope that conventional ideals, logic and methodologies can be effective in restoring a semblance of sanity to our world.

White water

As we strive to keep up with change in our world, it is very easy to feel as if we are in danger of being swept away by circumstances that are beyond our control.

 

At times like these, Christians can be baited into taking sides against one another, battle lines can be drawn, and lives can be wounded.

Why does this sometimes happen? How is it possible that we, who are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, can react in such different ways to the same dynamics and then hurt each other as we begin to assume the worst in others’ motives?

Well, for one thing, change often brings loss (or at least a perception of it). We tend to find it difficult to “let go” of the cultural aspects of our Christianity that have brought us comfort and, more than that, it is natural to be reluctant to release those things for which we have spent our lives – even when we finally admit to ourselves and God that maybe we’ve spent ourselves on the wrong things.

On the other hand, there really is a need for change in the church today. The kind of change that is necessary is the kind that readily impacts the lives of those to whom God connects it.

Oh, by “change”, I do not mean a departure from the Scriptures as being the standard for living life and discerning truth. On the contrary, there must in fact be a renewed sense of the Scripture’s relevance to life, to its applicability to the soul’s search for meaning, and to the moral quagmire that has so ensnared our culture.

Because the Gospel is “Good News” for all people in all places for all time, it cannot be changed in its essence (and any attempt on our part to change its essence negates the validity of all the rest of the message we proclaim). Indeed, as this “Gospel” was in the mind of God before time began and will be perfectly unveiled and vindicated in every way when time has ended, it is an invincible column of rock that continually defeats the torrents of the river of time.

Still, each generation has its own voice in proclaiming His praises and in serving Him. And as God’s Spirit is always breathing new life, new inspiration, and new vision for how we may praise and serve our living God, each voice is continually being transformed even as we confront the evils of our day and defy the lies of our spiritual enemy, Satan.

Please understand that change has come, is coming, and will continue to come. If you welcome it, consider the perspective of those who do not welcome it and let your attitude and actions be seasoned with the same grace that God has shown you in Jesus Christ. Not only that, allow God to enlarge your understanding through the thoughts of others as He sheds the light of His wisdom on your race to embrace change. Think well on how God may have sent these persons to play a part in shaping you and your walk with Him. Even those things that can be difficult and painful can be used by God to change you as you seek to change the world.

And if you are of the “don’t like change; don’t want it” camp, take to heart God’s desire to accomplish new things in you, your family, your church and your community. An unimaginably powerful and infinitely loving God always has more to do and say to a people who will obediently walk with Him.

Change will come however you feel about it. Your part is to help it be the right kind of change: not the change of recklessness but also not the change that comes from the deterioration and decay of stagnation.

If you do not have a church family (local church congregation), seek out one that genuinely points to the Bible as having the answers to all of life’s questions and then allow God to bless them through you as He allows change to freshen and revive you and your home.

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

A few years ago the facilitator of a leadership conference for a large corporation asked the group “Who are the world’s most influential leaders?” After some discussion and thorough rethinking on the topic of leadership in light of the things that they had learned, the group unanimously announced that mothers are the most influential of leaders in the world with fathers following at a close second.

Insightful, don’t you think? Laws may be instituted in legislatures, but they’re only created and pursued when someone has conviction (or a marked lack of it) about something. Public policy may be shaped by polls and petitions, but these too are merely the fruit of someone’s sense of justice and fairness (or, at the other end of the spectrum, their selfishness).

So, if we might look out on spectacle of politics, where can we hope that genuine conviction is forged? If we are dismayed at the immoral and cowardly antics of those who would be our leaders, what hope do we have for tomorrow? Where will a true sense of justice and fairness be molded? Where will one’s sense of right and wrong or one’s drive and motivation get rooted though we may not see its fruit until its ripening and the time for harvest has come?

Motherhood

A mother has unparalleled opportunity in influencing a life in matters of faith, godliness, love and hope. God has appointed you, O mother, to partner with Him in the building of a soul.

 

It’s in the home. It’s in the cradle. It’s in the arms of the one by whom one’s impressions and earliest recollections are first laid and established. The thoughts and images that shape the personality and perspective of adults and secure for them a worldview that moves them onward and upward or leaves them wallowing in defeat are delivered first through this one called “mother.”

When our oldest son was still a baby, there were times when he needed his mother… not because he was hungry; not because he was cold; not for any reason other than he simply needed to hear her voice and feel her touch. A sweet elderly lady next door of the apartment we rented, upon observing the calming effect of my wife’s presence upon our boy, softly reflected, “There’s no place like mama’s arms, is there?” I could only agree as I watched his tears dry and heard his crying fade into the sounds of peaceful contentment.

We learn first about love and warmth, acceptance and belonging from godly mothers. Fathers may have the unique calling and role of radically shaping a child’s perspective of God (another subject for another time), but a person’s foundation for his or her take on life and his or her sense of worth begin with his or her mother.

This is not to say that other things don’t have the power to challenge that foundation. They do. How anguished is a mother’s sorrow when she has done “all the right things” only to find her child wandering into a wilderness of confusion or a pit of destruction?

Mothers, nonetheless, have the power to pour a footer of encouragement and acceptance for their children’s ultimate victories. It’s a lot easier to want to do what is right or persevere in hard times when one knows that there is someone who is rooting for him and believes in him no matter what the world thinks or does!

We may rejoice when we have experienced the blessing of godly mothers! Have a care to not take such a blessing for granted either! If that has been your experience, then God has granted you a precious treasure, the worth of which is “far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10b). Thank Him for that treasure and honor her this weekend!

Mothers may rejoice too in knowing that they have unparalleled opportunity to influence a life in matters of faith, godliness, love and hope. God has appointed you, if you’re a mother, to partner with Him in the building of a soul.

Also, we may grieve when, for one reason or another, we are deprived of such a blessing. Losing a mother is painful for anyone, but it is an anguish to see a young child lose his or her mother to death.

Even more tragic though is the loss of a mother to the world when she is swallowed up in busy-ness… or worse, abandons the child in order to pursue other “interests”. In the instances where I’ve observed this, my heart has broken to see the devastation that this has caused in people’s lives.

But this doesn’t have to be. May we see a renewal in our roles as parents and know that we shape the future when we give ourselves to the shaping of little hearts and minds. Mothers, you influence the world when you influence the lives of your children. God offers you an opportunity to be His means of challenging fear, hatred, and injustice in the world. One day soon our children will receive the mantle of stewardship of our communities, our town, our nation, and our world. While there will be problems (of that, we can be sure) how those problems are handled and whether or not our children will be slave to them is being decided right now.

When those days dawn, O mothers, may your “children arise and call (you) blessed” (Proverbs 31:28a) for you have loved them, you have accepted them unconditionally, you have prayed for them and you have done all to prepare them to meet life victoriously. Bear well the mantle of motherhood.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

As we click through various “news stories” on the web or watch them on our televisions, and lest we despair as we hear or read of new problems or horrors characterizing our world today, let Christians pause and consider the great opportunity we are being given. How profound is the thought that you and I have been born for just “such a time as this!” Though we may initially be tempted to lament the chaos of our day and age, crying out over the moral confusion and fears that sit on the eaves of our lives like frightful gargoyles casting their shadows on our paths, let’s remember the Great Plan which encircles us and the Great Planner Who has chosen us for “such a time as this.”

“Such a time as this?” Yes! Like young, unassuming Esther (in the Bible), picked from a simple, unassuming life as a contented “nobody”, yet chosen out of all the rest of the young women to be queen, we may wonder why we are where we are in life. Faced with the extermination of her people, she reads the situation rightly and, as her cousin Mordecai explains, comes to understand her destiny: that she has been made queen “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

A destiny has been appointed for her in spite of her background, her limitations and her fears. Instead of running from it, she embraces it. In fact, knowing that standing up for what is right may grant her a death sentence, her resolve is hardened to the point that she does not look at what may happen to her if she does what is right, but what will happen to her people if she does not. She sends word to her cousin, “… I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

Most heroes are yet hidden away in the crowds, still unknown and still unmoved.  It's time for them to come forth now and lead.

Most heroes are yet hidden away in the crowds, still unknown and still unmoved. It is time for them to come forth now and lead.

America has forgotten what heroes look like and grasps for phantoms, phonies and fakes who make big promises but have never learned that true heroism always begins with integrity in the heart and in the home. When one learns integrity and courage in the “small things” of life, he or she won’t be blown over by temptation, pride, anger and selfish ambition in the town square. He or she can “flesh out” true heroism because it is grounded in who they really are and is not just a show.

I am glad to say that I’ve known heroes. These brave men and women have stood for righteousness though it cost them dearly. Such men and women courageously acknowledged their own weaknesses but then sought to grow beyond them or at the least to not be defeated by them.

Though I have known and still do know heroes today, I am convinced that most are yet hidden away in the crowds, still unknown and still unmoved. I am further convinced that God may be stirring even now more men and women in our community and more in our country who will stand up, embrace their destiny, and face evil fully in the face. There are some yet even now who I believe will not be chained by fear for their own safety and well-being, but, driven by the knowledge that they have been appointed for just “such a time as this” by God, will lead the way for His righteousness to prevail.

…..O solemn town, why your gloom? Why wear your mask of night?

……….We looked for a hero, friend; we looked with all our might.

…..To our dismay, there is none who’ll play the man and stand.

……….Heroes have all gone away; none now defend our land.

Let the words of this lament ring untrue as more men and women allow God to make His plans, purposes and presence known through them. May His hand even move in you in such a way that you become a hero in whatever station He calls you. May you, like Esther, realize that your background, limitations and fears have no power over you if you’ll trust God and allow Him to use you. May you realize that you can be a hero, too, appointed by God for “such a time as this.”

…..O happy day!  We know our call!  It’s time to rise and stand!

………The ache of darkness cries for light to spread across the land!

…..To us is given the keys to life through Jesus Christ our Lord!

……….We go with love and go in faith as we boldly share His Word!

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »

Isn’t it wonderful to know that God, in His great care to provide all that is necessary for His people to know Him and live fruitfully (2 Peter 1:3-4), has provided leadership through pastors and Lay Leaders (Ephesians 4:11-13)? It is not an easy charge, that of being the spiritual pacesetter for a family of Believers, responsible for holding forth a spiritual standard towards which our people strive, but it is a wonderful one.

This standard for spiritual life and fruitfulness doesn’t really have so much to do with a high level of activity for the sake of activity. Nor is it related to the size of one’s congregation. And it certainly has nothing to do with impressive facilities or with the number of prestigious persons that come to “my” church.

Actually, when one has been called as a leader in one’s church (whether clergy or laity), one has been granted a great privilege in being a vehicle through whom God’s grace and power might reach the earth. Like a bolt of lightning streaking down from the sky to the up-stretched prong of a lightning rod, God’s presence and love look for hearts eager to yield to His will, and is ready to empower their walk with Him with evidence of His love and strength.

Yet there are serious temptations for church leaders. In our zeal to see the realm of God’s grace and glory spill out from our lives into the hearts and minds of others with whom we interact, we can begin to enjoy too much the personal benefits that we associate with our positions of influence.

I specifically mean those temptations that can beset a pastor, teacher, worship leader or any other person of influence (formally or informally) when we start to forget to Whom the church actually belongs. For instance, if one has been in a church family for a long time, he or she may think that the church belongs to him personally. Or, just as bad, perhaps a pastor feels that he is the CEO of a company and not the steward of a body of God’s children.

The church is God’s flock and it belongs solely to the Great Shepherd.

The church is God’s flock and it belongs solely to the Great Shepherd.

No, the church is God’s flock and it belongs solely to the Great Shepherd (Matthew 16:18). We are simply instruments in His hand to affect His loving leadership in His church. It is therefore a great tragedy when a church leader forgets that God was on the scene before his or her arrival and was already at work shaping that family of Believers. Perhaps it is an ego trip for leaders when they discount God’s ability to work in and speak through others in the church. Maybe they like the power. Perhaps they enjoy just a bit too much the material perks or feelings of being “important”.

Whatever form it may take, the attempt to use God to profit oneself is dangerous and insulting to the Lord. It not only throws “cold water”, so to speak, on one’s own relationship with God, it taints one’s potential fruitfulness in the spiritual realm, thereby hurting others in the process. And God simply doesn’t like “being used”. Nor does He like His people being used.

“…This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds… who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because My flock lacks a shepherd… I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for My flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue My flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them” (Ezekiel 34:2b-10).

I am reminded, as I read passages like this, that leaders in the church (whether pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, worship leaders, youth ministers and so on) are accountable to the Holy One for the nature of their leadership in the church. Perhaps we sometimes neglect the call to spiritually shepherd God’s people in lieu of successfully building an organization or program.

Therefore, let us guard our hearts, brethren. Let us examine our motives AND our methods daily. May we continually hold them up to the light of the Scripture of God and ask Him in our prayer closets how He might be better pleased with the service that we render Him. We are likely to find that it will have a lot more to do with our hearts than with our hands: from our hands and mouths come the fruit of our heart’s attitudes, but it is the heart that is always the starting point with God.

So let us guard ourselves from trying to use God’s grace for material benefit (2 Kings 5:15-27), prestige (Matthew 6:1-6; 3 John 9-10), and power (Acts 8:14-24). And may we take great care that we do not seek our own glory but His and His alone.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Read Full Post »