Monday, October 8, 2012
Can You Be A Servant Without Leading?
"I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess...I don't have a sense of
needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever
my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much
as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry,
hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make
it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."
Can you be a servant without leading?
That sounds like a silly question; but churches are plagued, polluted, and paralyzed by people who cannot serve unless they lead.
Truly, those who lead serve if called by God to lead for a season or seasons or...
Leadership can be excruciating service in a Matthew 5:10-12; 10:16ff. kinda way.
Folks don't like to talk about that during PAM.
Be that as it is, let's get back to the question.
Can you be a servant without leading?
Churches are plagued, polluted, and paralyzed by people who cannot serve unless they lead because of the If-I'm-not-in-charge-I'm-gonna-quit-stop-participating-give-less virus from the pit of...
Sadly, they miss Him: "Whoever wants to be great must be a servant. Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve..."
I've been in this business for almost four decades; and that virus has been in every church that I've been called to undershepherd.
While our family of faith in Belvidere, Illinois is experiencing slow, steady, and solid growth in, through, and for Him in every way, there's also been a trickle out by people who cannot serve unless they lead.
Again, this virus plagues, pollutes, and paralyzes just about every church.
If not yours, praise the Lord!
So if not yours, then pray for the infected.
Anyway, I've seen very active/generous elders drop out of sight after "serving" on session, pastors drop out of sight after "serving" as chairwomen/men of presbytery/conference/paradenominational/civic/whatever committees, musicians/vocalists drop out of sight after "serving" as section leaders or lead instruments or choral directors, PNCers drop out of sight after "serving" and not getting the kind of pastor who will be her/his best friend or champion of their agenda or lover, teachers who can't be students, and...
They take their energies, giftings, and money away to another "place" and usually buy their way into "service" to punish who they've left who will not acknowledge, affirm, and applaud their "service" that only "serves" when they lead.
Of course, the cycle repeats itself when they rotate off or move out or get nudged out of their "servant" leadership and can no longer serve unless they lead.
I suspect most of you know what I'm talking about; and, again, if you don't, praise the Lord!
If you can't relate to this problem, pray for the infected.
I've been reading classical devotionals.
No, not Joel or Ricky or...
Classical not navelgazing devotionals that are more about Jesus than...
I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus and I figure I can learn a lot from folks who've scratched before me.
Well, I was reading the January 7 devotional - yeah, I know it's October but, uh, that's just me - of Cowman's Streams in the Desert and a parable in it caught my attention juxtaposed to the preceding:
A king went to his garden...only to find everything withered and dying.
He asked the oak tree...what the trouble was.
The oak tree said it was tired of life and determined to die because
it was not tall and beautiful like the pine tree.
The pine was troubled because it could not bear grapes like the
The grapevine was determined to throw its life away because it
could not stand erect and produce fruit as large as peaches.
The geranium was fretting because...
And so it went throughout the garden.
Yet coming to a violet, the king found its face as bright and
happy as ever and said, "Well, violet, I'm glad to find one
brave little flower in the midst of this discouragement. You
don't seem to be the least disheartened."
The violet responded, "No, I'm not. I know I'm small, yet
I thought if you wanted an oak or a pine or a peach tree
or even a lilac, you would have planted one. Since I knew
you wanted a violet, I'm determined to be the best little
violet I can be."
Cowman: "People who are God's without reservation 'have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.' His will becomes their will...They strip themselves of everything, and in their nakedness find everything restored a hundredfold."
Three recent conversations come to mind.
Yielding much of the worship leadership of our second service to our Director of Music and Arts, I confessed, "I'm actually worshipping in worship now. I just do my thing - message, prayers, sacraments, and other stuff every now and then - and participate in worship like everybody else. It's so great to give up control to Him through others. I should have yielded long ago."
I begged a colleague, "Please don't come to meetings only when you're leading or advocating something 'cause it comes off as so arrogant and condescending and..."
I urged the organist of another church who quit because she didn't like..., "You can set a great example of love and service if you join the choir. There's nothing more powerful and persuasive and humble and...as someone who can be led after leading..."
It's a spiritual problem/possibility.
Go back to Philippians 4.
Now get out your concordance and read entries for humility.
God really seems to like those who can be servants without leading.
Blessings and Love!