11/18/2010 9:43 AM
I often think of the calling and gifting of being a leader in God's church as a double-edge sword. As leaders, we are incredibly passionate and driven to see the people of God (and the church as a whole) growing in spiritual maturity and producing more spiritual fruit. That calling and passion keeps us awake at night and keeps us on our knees seeking God's constant guidance and blessing.
It is that passion and drive that comes from God that gives us energy and strength to keeps us continually seeking to move God's people in a forward direction. But it feels like a double-edged sword at times. On one side, we see the vision of how much better people's lives could be. We see the potential for good and for abundant fruit for the Kingdom that seems so close to one's grasp. But on the other side, we also see the selfishness and the stubbornness that keeps people from moving forward in their journey of faith and that can feel so frustrating at times.
And it's not about judging other people for where they're at at all; but it is about seeing how much better their lives could be if they would just allow the Holy Spirit to have control and direct their lives in ways that would produce so much more love, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness and so forth (Galatians 5:22).
It's a double-edged sword for leaders. God gives us the vision. We see the potential in people's lives, for our churches and in our communities. We see the way God desires things to be and the picture is so beautiful and compelling. But we also see the reality of where people are at today and sometimes, that feels very frustrating to me.
I look at someone and see their God-given gifts. I see their incredible potential to use their gifts to build up the Kingdom of God as I know God desires for them to do. And I see the reasons they are not using their gifts for the LORD and it grieves my heart as I know it grieves the heart of God. I see other people use their gifts but in minimal type ways. On their terms. When they feel like it or when it's convenient for them to do so. It's not a priority. It's not a passion. It almost seems taken for granted and that frustrates me.
I lay awake at night and wonder: how can we inspire, encourage and help people to move their priorities? How can we get people to see that God has to be their first and foremost priority in order for them to even come close to reaching their God-given potential? And how in the world can we get people to open their eyes and see that this is an emergency? People all around us are crying out in pain and spiritually dying. We need their gifts to be used to build up the church. Whether it's music, administration, gift of helps, mercy, teaching, preaching, or reaching out to the poor.
This is the burning passion that God plants in His chosen leaders. This is the double-edged sword that we must carry every day. We see the vision and feel God's passion to reach the lost. We're driven in ways that words can not explain. But the drive we feel has a double-edge. It's so easy to get frustrated, to take things personal, to either get mad at other people or beat ourselves up for our own perceived lack of fruitfulness.
For pastors especially, we have to daily, minute by minute, work at keeping our hearts in the right place. The constant pull from Satan is for us to make it all about us, whether it's in failure or success. I've met so many arrogant pastors through the years and I've also met many whose hearts have been torn to pieces from the challenges of ministry. In mentoring other leaders, I always talk much with them about how to protect their hearts. If our heart gets tainted or jaded, we've lost the race. God isn't able to used a tainted or jaded heart for very long.
The only way to truly protect your heart is to make absolutely sure you get a good healthy dose of your Daily Bread. Every single day, we must surrender, surrender and surrender some more to the One who calls and sustains us. Daily, we must constantly remind ourselves that this fight is not our fight, it belongs to the LORD. This church is not OUR church, it belongs to the LORD. These people are not our people, they too all BELONG to the LORD!
Every day, I remind myself that I am only a servant working in the field God has called me to work. Nothing more. I own nothing. I hold everything as loosely as I can. I'm not in control. It's NOT all up to me! (whew!) Every day, I must work hard to keep my focus ON CHRIST and not on people. I am who I am because of Christ. I treat people the way I do because of who I am in Christ. And what I do for others is first and foremost for Christ.
It's not easy to surrender every day. I make mistakes. I struggle at times to let go of anger, disappointment and discouragement. It's hard work to keep your heart right. And yet, it's not at all to my credit that I do this. It's required. It's part of accepting the calling. It's mandatory. No ifs, ands or buts. No excuses. No whining. It just has to be this way in order to fulfill all that God has called me to do!
And the results? PEACE! Peace like a river....peace like there are no words in this world to describe! Peace, joy, love, gentleness, kindness, longsuffering, self-control, goodness and faithfulness abounding!
Yes, it is a double-edge sword kind of life being a pastor. But oh wow, I can't and don't want to imagine life any other way!
"Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
Blessed be the Name of our LORD forever and ever! Amen!