Thursday, April 30, 2009

Interview, pt. 2

Yesterday, I began the first of three posts that share a recent interview I had with a member of our church who was completing a school project. I found some of the questions very interesting and since the whole interview dealt with leadership and pastoral ministry, I thought I would share my responses this week in a series of three posts. Here's part two...

3. Do you lead in humility

a. What do you do during the day that helps you maintain a spirit of humility?

Pride is a daily battle. No, hourly is probably more accurate. It’s so easy to feel smarter, more important, more influential, more irreplaceable than I actually am. This is one reason Paul warned against young Christians becoming pastors, because they can easily “become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). The public spotlight of pastor can seem glamorous at first and is especially dangerous for our pride. But Christ reminded His disciples that true greatness is servant leadership (Matt. 18:4).

Spending time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer helps keep me humble. Watching, learning, and listening to my wife helps me identify my own sin, selfishness, and lack of wisdom. Also, as much as possible, I try to stay realistic, “not thinking more highly of myself than I ought to think” (Rom. 12:3), but recognizing my own limitations. I try to share authority and responsibility with others and realize that everyone in the Body of Christ has been uniquely gifted by God.

b. Do you have a servant’s heart or do you sometimes let your position/power as a Pastor get in the way?

As much as possible, I seek to lead and live with a servant’s heart. I never want to think myself above the people I shepherd, or above certain tasks. I am merely a clay pot carrying a priceless treasure (2 Cor. 4:7).

It is important to remember that authority does not equal importance. For the sake of order, God may give greater authority to a husband over a wife, a pastor over his flock, and a boss over his employee, but this does not mean they are more important or more special in God’s eyes. There is no spiritual hierarchy. As Christians, we are all equally created in God’s image, equal as sinners, equally deserving of death, equally debtors to the grace of God, and equal as members of the one true Body of Christ (Gal. 3:28). When I remember our equality in Christ, all reason for pride is swept away.

4. Are you leading others to the “Greatness of God”?

a. Do you help others pursue the vision God has for them or the will God has for them?

Much of God’s will is clearly revealed in the Scriptures (Ps. 40:8; 1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Pet. 2:15). As I preach and counsel from His Word, I am instructing people in His will, “transforming them by the renewing of their minds, so they will be able to prove what the will of God is” (Rom. 12:2).

When it comes to specific decisions in life, I seek to be a friend, a mentor, a source of wisdom, and a prayer support to people as they seek to honor God. I desire to bring God’s word to bear on every area of their lives and perhaps help them thing through an issue or explore an opportunity they otherwise would not have considered.

Just recently, I had the privilege of meeting and praying regularly with a young man who was interested in a particular career. I spent much time talking with him, asking questions, giving advice, and connecting him with people who would be more competent in helping him pursue God’s will.

b. Do you seek the potential out in others that you don’t see in yourself?

I try to recognize my own limitations and identify the potential of others. God usually blesses a church with a diversity of gifts and personalities so they will complement each other. That diversity can become a source of competition and conflict, but it shouldn’t. It was intended by God to strengthen the church. So, I might be strong in leadership and teaching, but someone else might be stronger in listening and identifying needs. I might be strong in organization, but someone else might be stronger in spontaneity and creativity. I might be strong in doctrine, but someone else might be stronger in mercy. I need them to use those gifts, and need to view their strengths and differences as an asset, not a threat.

One challenge in regard to potential is to keep Christians challenged and growing, constantly moving beyond their comfort zones, but not pushing them too much or too fast. Jesus spent three years with His disciples, and even then, said “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12-13). I want people to see the work God is doing in their lives, and be encouraged by the progress they have made, but not overwhelm them with too many challenges and too many changes too quickly. Potential is a matter of stewardship. If a person in the church is faithful in the small things, they will increasingly be given greater time, attention, and responsibility.

You can check back tomorrow for part three of this interview.

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