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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Bible Post: Christian Leadership

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matthew 28:18-20 KJV

Don’t Bury It


 Message to Church Members in General

If anyone belongs to the body of Christ they have a responsibility to walk in the light as He is in the light, sharing Jesus with others by means of exercising the gifts that He has given to us by the Spirit. For each one of us has been given one or more gifts of the Spirit, for the purpose of building up and edifying the Church; that is, God’s people. Unfortunately, like the unfaithful servant who buried his talent in the ground, as spoken of in The Parable of the Talents, many bury their gifts too. And thus they don’t use them for their intended purpose. Hence placing little value on the privilege that God has entrusted to them to be a blessing to the whole of God’s people in this way.
“He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” – Ephesians 4:10-16 KJV
It is important to make a note of something here. Just because the passage above speaks of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, that doesn’t mean these are the only gifts of the Spirit, or that only a few among God’s people are gifted. Keep in mind that the purpose of the gifts spoken of above is to equip the saints with what is needed to help them “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (v.13). Therefore it could also be said that their role is to help you to realize what your role is in the Church, and to provide you with a means to fulfill it. This would explain why Paul had also said, “every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love”(v.16). In other words, if you are a part of the body of Christ then you have a part to play in edifying the body too. And those who are leaders within the Church have a part to play in your life in that they are called by God to help you to become all that God desires for you to be in Him, so that you may be blessed and be a blessing to the rest of the body.
Having said that, what are you doing with the gift that God has given to you? How much value have you placed on it? Are you using it as a means to bless the Church or have you buried it? Do you really show an interest in wanting to be active in the Church, or are you merely a pew warmer?
Listen, if you aren’t active in sharing your gift with others, but are capable of doing so, then I encourage you to take some time to reflect on what Jesus has done for you. Be honest with yourself in assessing what His sacrifice really means to you. For there are many who say that they are thankful for all that Jesus has done for them; yet they disclose a different message in what they choose to do with their time. Of course, I can’t judge your heart, nor will I attempt to do so. You know where you stand with God better than I do. I just ask that you would take a closer look at what’s going on in your life, to see if you are really answering to God’s calling by sharing your gift, or if you are merely trying to find excuses to bury it. Remember, this is between you and God. So please be open to what He desires to reveal to you.

Message to Church Leaders

A number of people who hold positions of leadership within the Church appear to give the impression that only certain people are meant to be active in manifesting the gifts of the Spirit, while the rest are just supposed to sit back and take orders from those who are gifted. If you are a leader in your church and you aren’t giving members an opportunity to bless the Church with their appointed gifts, then like the unfaithful servant who buried his talent, you are doing the same thing with God’s people. Thus, you are placing very little value on their purpose in the Church, and are therefore doing a disservice to God.
Every member should not only be acknowledged as having a gift, they should be encouraged to exercise it. Doors of opportunity for them to minister to others in this way should be opened wide, allowing them to carry out the work that God has called them to perform. Keep in mind that by allowing others to share their gifts you are helping them to grow in Christ. But if you suppress such opportunities it may not only result in hindering their growth, it will likely rob the Church of many blessings that God would have brought to fruition through them if they were given an opportunity to be active in sharing their gifts where God has called them to do so.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it is not for us to appoint the gifts of the Spirit. This work belongs to the Holy Spirit. God does not answer to our standards; rather, we are commanded to conform to His. It is our responsibility to encourage others to be active where God wants them to be useful, not to be their conscience. Therefore if someone desires to do a good work in the Church then why not give them an opportunity to do it? How will these brothers and sisters in Christ ever reach their full potential in exercising their gifts if leaders won’t make opportunities available for them to do that?
All too often church leaders inadvertently assume the role of the Spirit in that they assign work to members that does not agree with what God has called them to do. Thus, they overshadow their gifts with their own plans instead, when they should be encouraging members to go with God’s plans. This not only hinders growth in the Church, it has the potential to discourage members from being actively involved in ministry outreach. Of course, the solution to avoiding this kind of thing is to take everything to God in prayer, earnestly seeking to discover how you, as a leader, can better equip others with opportunities to use their gifts while encouraging them to step up to the plate and be active. After all, it should be every leader’s desire to see God’s people grow, reaching their full potential in exercising their gifts. For what sense is there in encouraging people to discover what their gifts are if you already have plans to replace them with your own assignments instead, or won’t let them share them?

Growing Together in Christ

I hope that as a result of reading this you have come to realize that you play an important role in the Church. Of course, some will have greater responsibilities than others, as where more is given more is expected. Nevertheless, your gift is just as valuable as any other. Therefore look for opportunities to be active in the Church. Don’t bury your gift in the ground; rather, keep it in your heart at all times, sharing it with whomever you can, whenever you have an opportunity to do so. For by doing this you will discover what it means to enter into the joy of the Lord. And for those of you who are leaders in the Church, I hope that you will open doors of opportunity wide to your brothers and sisters in Christ, giving them space in the Church to be all that God has called them to become in Him. For every part of the body must be at work in order for the Church to reach its full potential in Christ.

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