Tag Archives: church

Inaugurating the Kingdom-A City On A Hill?

Globally, this is a time of uncertainty and disequilibrium. We are currently witnessing, (mostly through the media) a rise in global terrorism that shakes our sense of stability and security to the core. We are observing a growing exodus of forcibly displaced people – a higher number than at any time since the Second World War. It would be surprising if people didn’t find this unsettling!

During times of turbulent change, people often seek refuge in all kinds of fundamentalisms. Fear can make people intolerant of tolerance and disrespectful of differing points of view. Instead of seeking the often complex, hard to understand truth, people look instead for simplistic (post-truth?) answers, soundbites and scapegoats. These scapegoats are often provided by those whose thoughts, behaviours, racial identity or appearance are different from that of the observer. This may affect how the observer acts and how they vote. This sadly permeates the thinking, actions and voting preferences of many within the global church.

Of course Christians can and should have a view about politics and current affairs. Perhaps they have more reason to do so that those of no faith. Personally, I long that followers of Jesus serve in politics at all levels (and in many of the parties) so as to bring something of the values of the Kingdom to their work here on earth. Christianity itself, however, must never be co-opted by Government or ‘the powers’. It is vital that the Church herself maintains an appropriate and critical distance, particularly in these challenging times. If she fails to do so, she will fail to be the much needed prophetic voice that she is called to be!

Sadly, at times in history (and in the present) the Church has been co-opted. God himself, however, cannot be. He is always on the side of the poor, the oppressed and the powerless all over the world. If a person is blessed, that person is called to be a blessing. If a nation is blessed, that nation is called to be a blessing!

You cannot be God’s representative on earth whilst always putting yourself ‘first.’ That is selfish. That is wrong and that is not the godly response of a ‘righteous’ person or a ‘righteous’ nation.

God has a high calling on his people; his church. He is calling her to be shaped by his own ethical, holy character….to reflect his righteousness, justice and mercy to a world filled with evil, oppression and injustice. That is the mission of God’s people. There is no mission without ethics. There is no discipleship without ethics. There is no holiness without ethics. In each case, it must be BOTH AND! Isn’t it time that a Holy Church rediscovers the ethical responsibility of her calling?

Like a ‘city on a hill,’ God’s people/his Church must serve as beacons of hope – standing in solidarity with those whom God would stand with; with those who ‘cannot speak up for themselves.’ A church in alliance with oppressive powers or a church that fails to challenge an unjust status quo is a church that deserves to lose its’ credibility. Worse, it will be a church that is failing to be church on God’s terms and on that basis God may pass his judgement. That, for me, is a sobering thought.

Advertisements

Ear-wigs & Leaders!

EARWIGS-poster

A couple of weeks ago, I was ear-wigging on a conversation about an upcoming leadership role within a big church organisation.

‘They should have this background or that experience; they must have this qualification or that competency, along with a firm grasp of X, Y and Z’ came the people’s replies….

All suggestions were carefully recorded and many of them were very good.

One of the few woman in the group chipped in….

’I think we should be looking for a person of godly character.’ 

 ‘But, that will leave us in danger of appointing someone who is just too nice.’ said one of the men and the woman’s comment was swiftly ignored.

Well, the woman had been silly to suggest it. Of course, someone nice would never work out in that role! It was a role that would require someone prepared to ruffle a few feathers from time to time; it would require someone with the courage to speak honestly and challenge where challenge is required; it would require someone willing to take the people of God right outside their comfort zones………………….and someone of godly character couldn’t do that, could they?

I mean, Jesus would never have ruffled any feathers or posed a threat to the status quo would he? He was just too nice….it was being so nice and inoffensive that led him to the cross, wasn’t it?

Godly character and being nice are not the same! How did we come to domestic our faith so much that being anything other than ‘nice’ might affect our polite sensibilities? In so doing, we have often rendered ourselves potentially incapable of leading anything more revolutionary than a jumble sale or a tea party!

When it comes to leadership, a person’s competencies determine what that person can do. Their commitment determines what they will seek to do and their character determines what they will do.

Of course we need people of character and, specifically, of godly character!

Maxwell states that ‘Leadership is not something you do, it’s something you are….being must precede doing….to achieve greater results you must be a person of great character.’ (The 21 Most Powerful Minutes In a Leaders Day, Page 99)

Amen Maxwell! I don’t always agree with you, but leadership character perhaps now matters more than ever! As society increasingly rejects authority based on position, the church needs to offer the highest form of authority…an authority that comes from the transforming power of God working in and through a person/s – a power that gives an integrity and authenticity to all a leader is and does.

Yes….of course, all leaders are flawed, but leaders must be committed to becoming more and more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ and dedicated to a much ‘higher calling’ than ‘people pleasing’ will ever be. That will be costly!

What about skills and competency? I am sure that when the Apostle Paul gave instructions to Paul and Titus to appoint of the basis of character, he was not suggesting that competence was unimportant! Indeed he almost certainly assumed that appointments would be made on the basis of a certain level of skill.  So, of course skills and competency are necessary, but a commitment to Christ led character development is a far better predictor of potential spiritual leadership ability than skill level.

Whilst skilful leaders are highly desirable, competency without character will eventually be undermined. The price of appointing on the basis of skills or gifting or even experience rather than character will always be too great, particularly in Christian leadership.

Final thoughts: I could go on about the core of a leaders life being one of love and integrity….about how that foundation is the wellspring that gives rise to empathy; lack of blame; humility; emotional mastery; accountability, confidence in Christ and calling; courage to take risks and the focus on the whole picture, but I’ll save that for another time.

I could also talk more about the high cost of leadership and the fact that many leaders will need to go through periods of trial, testing, broken-ness and personal sacrifice before they really start to realise their God given potential, but again I’ll leave that for another posting.

Finally, I sincerely hope that the people upon who I was ear-wigging make the right appointment….a man or woman who will probably spend a lot of time on their knees before they even accept such an appointment and then, who if they sense themselves called, will make themselves utterly available for God to work in and through in whatever way he chooses!

Imagine the impact on the Church, society, the nations and the powers and principalities if Christian leaders and those who follow them submitted themselves to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in this way!

Ladies, gentlemen, boys and girls – we have a responsibility!