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Faith Imagined: Serving in Leadership

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

October 8, 2010

Serving in Leadership


Solomon's son, King Rehoboam, lost half his kingdom (ministry) because he had no idea of the true meaning of leadership. He was at a crossroads, and he chose the wrong direction. His friends defined leadership as punishing people and forcing them to do his will. Yet, the city elders knew the true core of leadership: "They said, 'If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they'll end up doing anything for you'" (2 Chronicles 10.7 MSG).

Ministries are designed to provide for needs. As leaders, we are called to serve those around us. However, I think many of us get it wrong. Sometimes we serve to receive, we serve to grow our desires, we serve to be good enough, we serve to show others our works or we serve without the anointing of God. And we forget that serving becomes white-washed unless we are doing it out of a pure heart to do God's will. God wants to cultivate a desire in us to serve the needs of others; however, this desire does not come easily.

Our walk of service starts with those closest to us: spouses, children, siblings, parents and friends. We do not serve because we have to; we serve because that is our calling. We place our family's and friend's needs above our own, and work diligently to be Christ-like figures in their lives. Our family is our primary ministry, and we should be serving them first. They know everything about us, and they are the main witnesses to God's transforming power in our lives. I've come to the conclusion that if I am not fulfilling my husband's or children's needs, I have absolutely no right to be in ministry.

Once we find joy and purpose in serving our family, God will lead us to a small circle of people that He wants us to pour into and serve. This is not glamorous, and some people want to ignore it. But this is an important part of our own transformation. While we serve these hand-chosen people, God is able to do a good work within us. The fruits of our labor may not be obvious, because the fruits are produced within us, building and strengthening our character and faith. Once God trusts us with leading our small group, He will begin to open doors for greater influence.

By now we are serving our families and others on a small scale, but our capacity (territory) is growing. God broadens our reach of influence now that we have strength to do more. However, this broadening may not look how we want it to look. We might be called to reach individuals, small groups or the masses; and they each have equal impact. The world's standard of success is different than God's, and we need to remember that He grows our ministries into the shape He has for it. We probably won't know the extent of our influence for God's kingdom until He shows us in heaven.

The critical aspect about having influence is that when we stumble, many people are affected. That is why during this entire process of learning leadership, God has been teaching us to rely solely on Him and to obediently serve Him. There is much Scripture on the accountability of leaders, and they shed light to the awesome responsibility of leadership:

"The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people:"It is you who have ruined my vineyard" (Isaiah 3.14a NIV).

"It's because our leaders are stupid. They never asked God for counsel, And so nothing worked right. The people are scattered all over" (Jeremiah 10.21 MSG).

Leading others through serving their needs is an amazing opportunity with a high costs. We must allow God to change our hearts if we are to lead affectively and righteously. I believe God would love for all His children to be shining-star leaders in our world today; however, He will protect us from ourselves if we are not ready. We need to start with the basics and joyfully serve those we see everyday. Only then can God securely position us on the path to doing more service for His kingdom.

"If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he's talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God's church? He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap" (1 Timothy 3.1-7 MSG).

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16 Comments:

Blogger The Unknowngnome said...

"we serve because that is our calling"

"Once we find joy and purpose in serving our family, God will lead us to a small circle of people that He wants us to pour into and serve."

"start with the basics and joyfully serve those we see everyday."

"doing it out of a pure heart to do God's will"

Thank you for the focus Alisa!

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Angel @ Finding The Inspiring said...

Great post! There is a lot of good meat to chew on here. Powerful thoughts to ponder on living the life of a servant.

12:09 PM  
Blogger MTJ said...

Hi Alisa,

My initial thought when I saw the title of this post was, "I'm not a leader", but leaders (like all followers of Christ), are called to servanthood.

Each of us has been chosen by God to serve. The length, width, depth and height of service is predicated upon God growing "our ministries into the shape He has for it."

I think you've hit on a key point for those called to lead, "Our walk of service starts with those closest to us: spouses, children, siblings, parents and friends."

Blessings and peace.

MTJ

12:21 PM  
Blogger Dionna said...

Great reminder and post.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Alex Marestaing said...

It's so true that we have to lead our families well first if we want to truly expand our ministries. If our family isn't in order, how can we even begin to try to minister to others? Great post Alisa.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

So much truth here, Alisa in this post. This sentence in particular jumped out at me:

"Leading others through serving their needs is an amazing opportunity with a high costs. We must allow God to change our hearts if we are to lead affectively and righteously."

I struggled with a real slump even in serving Christ within my own family, but over the last few months, He has really been changing and renewing my heart and commitment for Him.

That is also why I had to change my blog-so it wouldn't be a distraction, but another tool to help me focus on my calling as a wife and mother!

(As always, you are welcome to come visit and take a look if you have a few minutes!)

Have a blessed weekend,Alisa!

8:08 AM  
Blogger Stuff could always be worse said...

Yes leadership is tough and we will not know, until we get to Heaven!
kim

8:26 AM  
Blogger Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

The greatest leader, Jesus, set the greatest example: "I have come not to be served, but to serve."

Great post - the necessary component of leadership: servanthood.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Jan Cline said...

Im finding there are so many ways to serve...in and out of church. We have to think outside the box and be tapped into God's creative ways to reach out.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Bernadine said...

Great thoughts on leadership Alisa. Love the example of King Rehoboam. It shows that you can be a good or not so good leader based on who you allow in your inner circle and whose advice you take.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Wanda said...

Excellent post Alisa. God's way leading differs greatly from what the world considers the limelight of being in charge. But clearly pointed out that we're all called to servant-leadership.

7:26 PM  
Blogger May said...

When one serves in a leadership position they should be prepare to go the distant. To lead the followers in the right direction in their spiritual walk. May the leaders be holy and clean. God bless.

9:34 AM  
Blogger From The Heart Online said...

"I've come to the conclusion that if I am not fulfilling my husband's or children's needs, I have absolutely no right to be in ministry."

I have felt that pull alot - am I serving my family? Am I being a good and attentive wife and mother? Am I joyfully serving them? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Overall, I trust God is transforming my heart too, to conform to his will and image.

As always, I benefit from your knowledge, experience and willingness to teach. Thank you.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Alisa, there are so many great points in this post that I can't possibly comment on all of them. Instead I will just pick out that I think leaders I work with sometimes forget, "The world's standard of success is different than God's, and we need to remember that He grows our ministries into the shape He has for it. We probably won't know the extent of our influence for God's kingdom until He shows us in heaven." Thanks again for the great post :)

1:05 PM  
Blogger Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

Great post!

Someone once said that our gifts might propel us into ministry, but it's our character that will keep us there. Whether or not we're in a leadership capacity, we're all in some form of ministry. As we're faithful in the small things, God will open doors of greater responsibility.

Blessings,
Susan :)

7:43 PM  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

As a Christian friend told me, "Just love". Leadership is important. But within that, others must "see" who we are as an extension of The Lord's admonition to "Love one another". One of the great things I find refreshing about this blog site is that it is a respite from the fast-rushing world when such matters become lost. :)

10:07 AM  

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