As kids, I guess we all played lots of games outside when the weather was nice like it is here today (sunny and 65 degrees in York, Nebraska). We played Tag and Simon Says and Hide and Go Seek. Right now, my two older children like to play Follow the Leader. Remember that one? It’s not too hard as long as you pay attention to what the leader’s doing. So what makes it so hard to do in the church?
Some argue that the church just doesn’t have very good leaders. I have friends who say that a church is only as good as its leadership, and that’s often true. But there is more than one way to think about this. When we talk about a church’s leadership, we are usually talking about its preacher/s or its elders. And those leadership groups do have problems when they think that they are the ones in charge of the church. You see, too many times, preachers and elders forget to follow THE leader.
The Bible says again and again that Christ is the head of the church. That means he is in charge. He is guiding, protecting, and nurturing the church toward health and growth. No other person alive can take Jesus’ place. All of us–regardless of our place and role in the body–are equal members of the same body of believers. The preachers are not in charge. The deacons are not in charge. The elders are not in charge. Christ alone is our leader. It has been this way in the church from the very beginning.
Paul and the other apostles didn’t rule as authoritarians. Although they had wisdom and special divine giftedness, they worked and served under the guidance of Christ. Timothy, Titus, and the other evangelists and ministers that were instructed to teach and lead congregations were not serving their own whims, either. They, too, were charged with following in the footsteps of Christ. And they were to instruct the elders to do the same thing. And that remains the goal within the church today. We are all just people. All of us are sinners who rely on the grace of God for salvation. But those of us who are responsible for teaching, leading, and nurturing the church need to do a better job.
We are serving under Jesus Christ–the Great Shepherd. We are serving the church–his bride. And so we must continue to devote ourselves to study and prayer so that we might have the wisdom and humility to quit thinking we are the ones in charge and to remember that Christ alone is head. When we do this faithfully, God will bless us and the people who look to our example and instruction. May God alone be glorified in all that we say and do so that his will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Make no mistake; this can happen. God’s will can be done and will be done when we all learn to follow the right leader.