Recently Barb was on a short mission trip with some women and met some incredible new friends. I am going to focus on one couple that lead a church. I am going to make up a couple of names here, again for their privacy and to show some respect. Alice made a comment that caught my wife’s attention. She said that they became leaders of the church because they felt like they were painted into a corner and there was no way out. Barb jumped in with, “That is what Bill says about the way we were called into being pastors. It was like a game of musical chairs, and Bill said he was the last guy standing with no chair...so he got picked!” Definitely not a Paul on the road moment or Isaiah moment with coal and an angels. I tend to joke about it but that is how it felt! Now I am going to say this...even though that is how I felt it does not mean it was a bad thing...it was a God thing. So I am going to write a letter to Alice and her husband, Bob, the two painted into the corner leaders.
Bob and Alice, welcome to the club! When you saw where this all was heading did you ever ask God this one? “You want me to do what?” If I ever get around to writing my leadership book that is going to be the title.Or, “What Are You Thinking Up There?” Another good one. So let me guess, I really do not know your story, but I would guess it goes like this, you are minding your own business just serving the Lord and His church and all the sudden, BOOM, you are in charge. You now have the title pastor. You are not even sure how it happened and, if you were like me, you really never wanted to be a pastor. I was a worship leader and a small group leader and that is all I wanted to do. (Between you and me I had kind of come to not really like pastors. Don’t tell anyone.) I wonder if, also like myself, you did not have any letters after or around your name or really pretty pieces of paper framed on a wall. Maybe you do...not me...I was a factory worker all my adult life...no pedigree here. So every time you walk into a room with the people with all the letters and degrees you tend to feel a little out of place like you really, really do not belong here.
So then it is hard to lead just because you yourself do not feel qualified...deep down you wished God would send a real pastor, leader. Do you tell those you lead how unqualified you are? And are you really charismatic? In more than one sense of the word? Are you the person everyone wants to be around because you ooze charisma? Or would you prefer to stand back out of the light. Since you are a Vineyard leader how is your prophetic gifting? Your power ministry? Have you raised the dead this week yet? Do you happen to be in close proximity to the biggest church in the area? That only can help.
So Bob and Alice if I have missed describing who you are then do not worry someone else will read this and understand what I am talking about. If I am tracking along OK then let me talk to you personally here for a moment. First you need to get over this, “I was not called but forced into this feeling.” Well, don’t get over the called thing but let’s jump to this...you were not only called but what is more important you were chosen. That is right! Can you believe it? He chose you. Matt.22.14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Sure lots of people seem to be called but Jesus says few are chosen...you were chosen...hand picked by the Father to lead...to pastor. I would guess if you were painted into a corner it was the only way God could corral you to call you. You would have continued to let someone else go ahead of you, to point out the real leader in the room and then step aside. Did He choose you because you were the best and brightest? The most handsome and gifted? The gung-ho leader who could solve any problem and take any hill? Maybe...but not likely. He chose Israel...not because of how imposing they were but rather because He loved them and wanted someone to display His glory to the rest of creation. David was not the biggest and the strongest...Moses stuttered...Peter fished...Paul...well Paul was not a nice guy at first. I love 2 Cor.4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not us.” Alice...it is not about us at all...it is about Him. I suspect you could do a wonderful job pointing at Him...directing people towards Him. I suspect that as you fall in love with Jesus all over others will follow you and do the same thing. You might struggle with two or five year plan but I figure God chose you because what you really want is Him. You didn’t ask for a title, you asked for Him...more of Him and less of you. If you will lead from there others will follow...really they will. You or I may never pastor the biggest churches but I think we can pastor the best churches. A wise person here in the states told us as we began, “Just plant a church you would want to be a part of and others will join you.” That is what we did...and others joined us in this journey.
Now a part of the challenge for us reluctant types is this...we have to realize if we do not lead someone or something else will. If we do not lead with some clarity you will notice some being angry with you and you don’t know why and even weirder yet neither do they, but they are ticked. It is because of the fuzziness of the vision...it appears to be distorted to them and it cause them irritation. You have to lead but not like someone else would, rather you have to lead the way you lead. You have to be you and like it. The one God created...the one God called...the one God chose. You. No one else. I am in the same state where the two largest churches in our movement are located with two really good leaders. Very different leaders but great leaders...and I am not like either one. So what? You have to quit telling people how under qualified you are or how ungifted you really are. God did not have to choose you He “chose” to choose you! (Does the make sense?)
Lead from what you know, be genuine, be transparent and be in love with God. He so loved you He called and chose you. He is not punishing you He is caring for His church and He is doing it through you...if you let Him. Alice and Bob...yes you are in over your head...way over probably...and you might not be the ones you or anyone else would have chosen...that is fine. God has different criteria than we do and He sees much deeper than we ever could. He sees your hearts...He hears your prayers and He captures your tears in His hands as you weep over your church family and your country. You are NOT sinking! You are walking hand in hand with the One Who loves the best. Let Him do it...please. Let me encourage, challenge you...and me...to hand the Church back to the Father and His Son and His Holy Spirit. Let’s take it back from a corporate, management mind set that has so deeply influenced His Bride and let Him have it. It is His, you know. Jesus said He would build it...not me...not you...Him. Be encouraged and loved...you are so loved and so highly regarded. Bob and Alice...close your eyes and listen for the voice of the Father right now...be quiet...listen...listen. You hear Him? Can you hear Him whisper to you? What I can hear Him saying right now is I hear Him moving from angel to angel in heaven and He is bragging on you...telling all of heaven how precious you are to Him...How proud He is of you...how you have His heart. Hear it? Listen...then go and be...His hands and feet...His voice of love and reconciliation. Rest in Him.