I recently heard a story about a valuable bracelet that a man had given his wife. She was grateful for the gift and appreciated its beauty and the thought behind it. Unfortunately, she left the bracelet on a table before going to bed.
The next morning, the man was making coffee in the kitchen and heard their dog chewing on something. You guessed it, the dog was chewing on the bracelet that he had given his wife the previous evening.
The dog was unable to appreciate the bracelet as anything other than a chew toy. He did not understand its real value.
We as church leaders must be careful that we don’t emulate that dog.
We are charged with the care and spiritual feeding of the people that are members or attend our churches. We have to remind ourselves that every one of those people caries the imago dei, the image of God. Therefore each person carries an extreme value because of that image.
If we fail to properly value the individual people in our charge we are failing in our mission thus demonstrating a gap between how God views those people and how we do.
The danger is that we can view them as a means to an end rather than the whole purpose of why Jesus founded the church in the first place.
One of the ways we demonstrate the value of those in our care is to nurture them and help them become all that they were created by God to be. We are called to train them and equip them for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12).
Are we working to develop a culture where their gifts can be used in the church? Are we watching over them to assist them in development of those gifts as they minister in the body?
I have been in churches that were so large, that I was not missed when I started attending a different church. I have been in churches where I was not encouraged to develop and use my gifts to build the body. In those situations, In those churches, I did not operate under the assumption that I was valued by the leadership.
As leaders, we should be asking the reasons why people leave our churches. Are they leaving because they don’t feel valued? Are they leaving because they think that no-one cares if they stay or go? Are they leaving because they have not been given an opportunity to use their gifts?
The author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that lay before him (Hebrews 12:2). That joy is to be in fellowship with every believer in our churches.
The functional question is whether we value the people as Jesus values them.