The next little mini-series we’re doing is on ministry leadership. I’ll probably be posting every 3 days on the facebook wall. Then I’ll remove them from the facebook wall before the series finishes, and the next semester begins. They’ll still be hanging on the blog site probably. I figure leaders won’t mind reading a lot quickly. Also these posts will most likely be long.
A reason I don’t want this floating around is because not everyone is meant to be a leader. The concern I have is that someone who isn’t a leader sees this information and then feels like they must meet up to the standard of a leader. I fear that such a person who doesn’t have that calling may fail and become disheartened, or worse, succeed and become legalistic.
Today we’re going to talk about glory.
Thomas Chisholm is the writer of the popular hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness. This is a very famous and popular hymn. It’s one of the few hymns where the majority of the congregation knows all 3 harmonies in addition to the melody. Plus they sing really loud on this song. It’s like Oceans for old Baptist churches.
Unlike other popular hymns like Amazing Grace, or It is Well With my Soul, Great is Thy Faithfulness wasn’t created out of redemption from slavery or great faith in loss. Thomas Chisholm became a Christian at the age of 27. He then felt the call towards full-time ministry. Yet after one year of serving, he resigned from the position because of poor health. He had no desire to resign, but he physically couldn’t do it. I’m certain many of you can sympathize with having to leave a passion when you don’t want to.
Thomas Chisholm then sold life insurance for the rest of his life. Yet, he was still diligent and wrote poems to God. One day, William Runyan got a hold of one of Thomas’ poems and put it to music. Then the hymn was born. Yet, the hymn never became that popular until the Billy Graham’s crusades near or after Thomas’ death.
The reason I bring up Thomas Chisholm is because he didn’t serve for the praise of man. He served out of diligence and love for God. God was then extremely faithful, like He always is, to take Thomas’ five loaves and two fish and multiply it to feed millions. The glory of Great is Thy Faithfulness was not to Thomas Chisholm. All glory is God’s.
As a leader, don’t you dare take God’s glory. He will take it from you, and if you don’t let go, God’s not afraid to break your hands. Why?! That sounds awful and not like God! That’s because God knows that glory will destroy you. We as humans were designed to worship not to be worshiped.
The very first sin was a desire to be like God. It was to know like God knew. It was to enter a place where one no longer needed to rely on God. We were never made to not rely on God. As a result, that desire, that arrogance, that pride, turned man down the dark path of sin.
God hates pride. It constantly says in the Bible that the Lord hates the proud. Thomas Aquinas explains pride as the greatest of sins. It’s saying that we know better than God (woah reference to eating the fruit). It’s essentially saying we don’t need God. I need you God/Jesus/Holy Spirit, is a phrase we should constantly say in ministry.
So at a practical level, what does this look like? Here are a couple of things.
One, it is not our efforts or ourselves that lead people to God. Our ministries, and all the people to be reached, will be reached regardless of whether or not we are involved. Ministry is a gift. We are not necessary to it. It’s an opportunity to play. As a result, our egos should not be allowed to inflate because we are successful.
Our ministries grow because God has chosen to bless us not necessarily because we are good at our jobs. I know very good pastors, and very good speakers who lead small churches. I also know instances of the opposite, though most of them didn’t stay that way for long. The size or success of their ministry had not as much to do with their skill, but more so just where God wanted to have them.
Words like “I deserve better”, or “Where is mine?” are concerning and it’s important to ask ourselves “Why am I thinking/feeling this?” Are we living for success? You know, God may call us to rejection or failure. After Isaiah 6:8, the beloved verse of “here I am send me,” the Lord tells Isaiah He’s going to deafen the ears of the people Isaiah prophesies to. On a personal level, we could just look at inviting people to church. There’s usually a lot more no’s then there are yes’. Yet, we still must be diligent to invite to the greatest thing we’ve ever encountered: God.
The second thing is that praise should always be on our lips. People will tell you how much of a blessing your leadership or ministry efforts have been. Instead of shrugging it off and saying “It wasn’t me. It was God,” it is far better to celebrate with them. Praise God that you were used in them being blessed. It is sin to not celebrate the good things God has put into your life or into your spiritual brother’s or sister’s life. This goes back to glorifying God. Are you going to rob or deny God of glory?
Lastly, and I’ll end with this, if God has all the glory, then none of us are above reproach. This means that none of us are above being criticized either constructively or destructively. All criticism must be assessed discovering if it’s true of false. If a day-old Christian says my blog posts are false, I must be diligent to find out why. If they say simply that it feels wrong, then I’ll begin to doubt the legitimacy. Yet, if they attack my character and say certain sins of mine are leaking out in the words and causing harm, I MUST stop and dig through what I wrote and assess my life even if they yell at me or don’t follow the Biblical method for rebuking someone. No one likes to receive criticism, and we must fight against the desire to discredit the person who criticizes us. After all, God may be using them to speak to us, and we can’t discredit God.
So that’s it. There are probably two common thoughts going through people’s heads. One, is “Oh no! I do all that the three applications said not to do, and I consider myself a leader.” It’s okay. I do them too. God really likes to use incompetent people. Just don’t get a big head and think you’re really the one doing all the work, or think that you need God less than any other person on earth does.
The second may be, “This level of responsibility sounds awful. I just want to set up chairs or talk to new people. I don’t want to worry about this!” That’s fine too. You don’t have to be a leader to serve. You can just set up chairs or cook. You can even be directing people on how to set up chairs and cook and not be a leader. These ideas are important to all believers, but a person who sets up chairs doesn’t receive nearly as much praise than the person who gives a good sermon. As a result, the person who sets up chairs doesn’t have to worry as much about stealing glory. Leaders do have to worry about this. Yet, if one is called to leadership, it is a very rewarding calling.
Also, let Caleb and Jeremy know how much you appreciate them. It’s a lot of work to lead. Plus, they have families to lead too.