One of the most heart-breaking things I have witnessed in nearly fifty years of ministry is how much money and personal power has blinded the spiritual eyes of leaders. Three times Paul wrote that he was “called to be an apostle” (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 15:9). He never mentions having served the Lord for the purpose of a salary (personal gain) or for a position of power or authority over others. This gets at the heart of why we are ‘in the ministry’.
Even though there is “authority” in the role of leadership, the way it is used is critical. Paul makes this very clear; “our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.” (2 Corinthians 10:8). This is the same attitude Peter takes in addressing elders regarding their role as shepherds; “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2–3). In the next verse Peter refers to Christ as the “Chief Shepherd” pointing to the necessity of every shepherd/pastor/elder/leader realizing that they must be under His authority before they can properly exercise authority over the flock.
The way the flock of God, the church, is cared for as a shepherd should,must reflect the calling from God. It is never approached as a vocation in worldly terms. Remember that we must represent Christ in the way we fulfill our calling so the people of God are connected to Christ, NOT US. The next blog will address the issue of money and how it can hinder the very purpose of our calling.
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