Based on the second commitment of a healthy church in Take Your Church’s Pulse.
Theme: Jesus gives us leaders to prepare us to serve.
Goal: To show leaders their true calling.
Need: More leaders.
People of God, have you ever heard the saying, “Many hands make light work”? Well, it’s true. More people, motivated by the same vision, animated by the Holy Spirit, will achieve more for Christ’s kingdom and God’s glory than if there were fewer people. So the next area of examination is “Leadership.” Is the leadership of this church (elder board or leadership team) working to build more leaders among the congregation?
To illustrate this, let me begin with a story. It’s a story from Moses’ life. Now Moses was the man God called to go to Egypt and lead God’s people to freedom. However, just because Moses was asked to go did not mean he had to go it alone. The first thing God did was send Moses’ brother Aaron to go with him. But later Moses forgot this principle, and he and God’s people paid the price.
(Read Exodus 18)
This story illustrates that no human being can do all the work that has to be done. Sometimes we flatter ourselves into thinking we can, but we can’t. And not only are we unable to do everything, but also we shouldn’t do everything. The people were not being served well because they had to wait for Moses, and Moses was working long hours to the point of exhaustion. Jethro’s advice is direct and to the point: “What you are doing is not good ...” It will not only wear you out, Moses, but it will also wear out the people. So what does he suggest?
(Read Exodus 18:19-23)
The workload was too heavy for one man, but it was light when many men were allowed to join in. The work of ministry is challenging. Not one person can do it all. Leaders must learn to share the load, or the work will indeed suffer. Now you might find this crazy, but Jesus also could not do the work alone. He was God, but He was also human. He was limited in the work He could do.
(Read Matthew 9:35-38; 10:1, 5-8)
Jesus teaches, preaches, and heals, but even He cannot do it all. He tells His disciples to pray and ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers. Then what does Jesus do? He commissions His disciples to do the same work.
So then it is clear. The work of ministry is challenging. It is too much for any one person to do alone. So we have to ask ourselves, what then should we do?
(Read Ephesians 4:1-16)
Jesus gives us leaders to prepare us to serve. The “works of service” mentioned in verse 12 can also be translated “works of ministry.” Therefore, the work of ministry is a work to be done by all of God’s people together.
The apostle Paul begins here with a very direct observation.
(Read verses 1-6; especially verses 4-6)
“There is one body and one Spirit ...” Through true faith in Jesus, we are all part of one body. Yet there is another observation just as direct.
(Read verses 7-13; especially 7 and 12)
So there is one body and one Spirit, but there are many gifts, and each one has received a gift by God’s grace. We will talk more about that next week. But for today I would like to focus on those offices that are described as Christ’s gifts and their role in the one body.
(Read verse 11)
So there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. All of these “offices” are gifts from God and they are all given for one purpose.
(Read verse 12a)
Jesus gives us leaders to prepare us to serve. That word “prepare” can also be translated “equip.” I like “equip” better because it helps us as leaders understand our role even better. Think about it this way. When I say the word “equip,” what other word immediately comes to your mind? “Equipment.” Right. And we can think of “equipment” as the tools necessary to do a job. So it is the job of an “equipper” to make sure you have the right “equipment” (tools) to do the job. So let’s think of some examples of “equippers.” In medieval times, every knight was served by an armor bearer. The armor bearer’s job was to make sure the knight, the one who actually fought in the battle, had the right tools to do the job. Or since this is basketball season, and we are quickly approaching “March Madness,” there is the team manager. He or she is in charge of refilling the water bottles, making sure the jerseys are clean and the right color, keeping inventory on all the balls used during warm up, etc. The manager’s job is to make sure the players have the necessary equipment to do their job on the court. And I am sure you can think of other examples as well. So that means Jesus gives us leaders to prepare or “equip” us with the right tools we need to do the job, the works of ministry/service. And that fits with Jesus’ description of leadership. (Read Matthew 20:20-28) “Whoever wants to be great ... must be your servant ...” Jesus defines leadership through service. Leaders are given to equip others for ministry. But why?
(Read Ephesians 4:12b-13)
Jesus gives us leaders to prepare us to serve ... so that we can all reach the fullness of Christ. But what does that mean?
The fullness of Christ is God’s plan for every believer. God wants us all to be continually formed into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. Romans 8:28 is often a favorite verse for God’s people. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Unfortunately, too many of us stop right there. The question remains, “What is God’s purpose?” But if we read on, we find that the Bible tells us God’s purpose: “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”
You see, that is God’s purpose, that we might be conformed to the likeness of His Son Jesus! But this is not just God’s desire for us individually, it is also God’s desire for us together. According to God, we are the body of Christ. That’s you, me, and everyone else who places true faith in Jesus. And as Christ’s body, God has work for us to do. So Jesus gives us leaders to prepare us to serve ... “so that the body of Christ might be built up (strengthened) until we all (together) reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
This is God’s plan, and Jesus gives us leaders to prepare us for service! So what about us? How are we doing in this area? Are we as the leaders of this faith community, this local body, doing our job? Are we preparing you to serve? Are we equipping you with the right tools to engage in spiritual battle?
Let’s take a few moments once again to fill out this week’s survey.
(Fill out survey - comments are welcome but not necessary - the numbers are most needed.)
Jesus gives us leaders to prepare us to serve. We are all one body in Jesus, but we have also each been given grace as Christ apportioned it. We have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood and made new by His Spirit so that we would do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do ... for God’s glory and Christ’s kingdom! Amen.