Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Joy filler or killer, which are you?

Hebrews 13:17 is a fascinating verse.  "Obey your leader and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your soul, as those who will have to give an account.  Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."

We have two choices when it comes to what sort of people we are in church, we are either burdensome making leadership hard and groan filled or we are a joy to lead.  But what does that look like?  How do I make leadership a joy for those in leadership in my church?  Let me make some suggestions:

  1. Be there.  Your presence is a blessing and an encouragement.  It conveys commitment and that you appreciate all that they do and take your spiritual wellbeing as seriously as they do.  And that applies not just on Sunday's, endeavour to be part of a gospel or home group, be at prayer meetings.  As you do so you are inviting and enabling the leadership, and other people, to know you and care for you well.
  2. Be engaged.  Engage with what the leaders are teaching from the Bible, ask them questions about it (leaders aren't afraid of this, they love it when people want to explore God's word, or even be clear in their minds on something that is just a bit vague after the sermon or bible study).  Engage with the direction the leadership are taking the church, question them about why they are making the decisions they are making and what they hope the outcome will be - convey that you have confidence in them but want to understand and support and get onboard.
  3. Be Growing.  If you asked what leaders of churches want it is for people to be progressing in their faith, to be growing and changing as they wrestle to apply the gospel to every area of their lives.  If you want to make your leaders leadership a joy, to encourage them to keep going let them know where and when you are wrestling to apply God's word, or when it has encouraged you or challenged you and what you are praying the outcome would be.
  4. Be giving.  Be giving financially to support the work of the church, the Bible calls us to do just that as an act of love in reasons to the gospel.  And not tight-fistedly but as generously as Christ has given to us.  Why not start with the tithe as a bare minimum and then challenges yourself to give more when you review it after 3 months?  Give of your time and gifts too, this shouldn't be done in lieu of financial support but alongside it.  Where can you serve, how can you be involved, how can you support, who can you encourage?  
  5. Be fishing.  Be engaged with taking the gospel to your work colleagues, friends, family and neighbourhood.  Be that by starting an Uncover Bible study, bringing friends to services, serving the community in act of practical love or in any number of other ways.  But make Jesus mission your mission, not just the leaders.
Perhaps the negative is helpful.  How could I fill a leaders life with groaning?  Let me again make some suggestions:
  1. Be sporadic.  Be infrequent never really committing so that no-one every really knows whether you are committed or not.  Be busy so that you dash in late and have to hurry away afterwards.  Be too busy to attend a home group and ensure that your children are so busy they can't really be involved or build good relationships.  That's bound to make your leaders nervous and concerned.
  2. Be disinterested.  In part this will show in number 1.  But you can also be present but disinterested.  Approaching the pastor straight after the sermon finishes to ask him about his Fantasy football team, or to tell him of the interesting anecdote his first illustration made you think of is not encouraging.  Neither is texting, updating your status on Facebook, or playing clash of clans during his sermon.  Disinterest can also take the form of criticism or cynicism, that says no matter what you do I'm not inserted in following.
  3. Be static.  Be totally uninterested in changing.  Show no interest in applying what you hear to life.  Or alternately if you are changing don't tell anyone or share what God is doing.
  4. Be a consumer.  Don't support the church financial, or if you do make sure it's just a token offering.  Don't give anything whilst making the most of every opportunity you can to leech as much as you can from the church.  Give nothing by way of time and support.  Consume the teaching, send as many kids as you can to the youth work.  Criticise and tell the leaders of programmes other churches are running that fit just what you need and pressure them to start one just like that - though of course you're too busy to help with it.
  5. Be insular.  Don't engage with the outside world.  Don't bring anyone to church ever.  Don't go along to support guest events let alone take anyone.  Don't be welcoming to visitors.  And if every you're asked let your leaders know evangelism is their job after all it's their church.
They are just a few ways we could encourage or discourage our leaders, I'd love to hear others if you have them.

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