In America, we like leaders who are bold, outspoken, and visionary (whatever that means). Come election time, we love to see candidates who can hold their own in debates even if they are brash and/or abrasive. It seems that we elect leaders who are ready to charge forward; we don’t need or want any hesitation or thoughtful deliberation. If you doubt this assessment, just look at who we have elected President in the last several elections.
It seems that the people of Corinth had similar taste in leaders. In his first letter to the people of Corinth, the Apostle Paul addresses multiple ways the surrounding culture was having a negative effect on the church. One of those effects was how they went about choosing leaders.
Rather than being dependent upon God and looking to Him for how the church should be run, they relied on competition and debate to be the basis on which leaders were chosen.
Paul addressed this by describing himself as a leader:
“And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstrati on of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”1 Corinthians 2:3–5, ESV
I wonder if any pastor in America has used these verses in his resume. They don’t speak of personal vision; they don’t speek of personal drive; they don’t speak of skills in oratory.
They do speak about a sense of complete trust in God and they do speak about an acknowledgement of complete dependence upon God for a good outcome.
Church people, are we looking for leaders that trust God and are looking to Him for guidance? Are we looking for leaders who acknowledge their dependence upon God? Are we looking for leaders who will demonstrate what it looks like to walk in complete dependence? Are we looking for leaders who have the attitude of Paul in the verses quoted above? Are we looking for leaders who can honestly pray this prayer of the Psalmist?
“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!”Psalm 40:17, ESV
There is nothing wrong with the preacher being skilled in crafting and delivering a sermon. There is nothing wrong with a leader who can articulate a vision for what God is leading a congregation to do.
But his preaching must be focused on communicating God’s truth while acknowledging that it is Jesus who promised to build his church.
It is not the responsibility of the leaders to grow the church. When we take that on, we are usurping God’s power and it will not end well. It never does.
But, we need to apply this to our personal lives also. Do I walk every day acknowledging that I am completely dependent upon God? Do I have a sense of desperation to hear from God through his word so that I might be guided by Him on a minute-by-minute basis? Am I more likely to debate rather than pray about an issue?
When we look at it from Paul’s point of view, weakness and fear become strengths because they drive us to seek God for guidance and power to live out what He calls us to do.
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