(Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23; 6:1-7; 2 Timothy 2:2; Acts 1:24-26; 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13)
Lesson 1 -- first quarter 1999
December 6, 1998
© Copyright 1998, Christian Light Publications
We tend to be quite happy with ourselves over this We-Ordain-from-the-Laity business. The One-of-Us stuff sounds so right and so brotherly. On this page, though, I'd like to consider with you some inherent hazards to choosing leaders from the local body.
Just Joe. The new minister has been around the congregation for awhile. We know him in various capacities: song leader, youth sponsor, school board member, "her husband," "their dad." We appreciate him as a brother in the church, but on the other hand, he's always been just Joe to us. Now what?
Between us yawns a seven-year age gap, but we've been good friends for quite awhile. Our missionary service together contributed much to that. Now he's an ordained man...and I'm not. But he's still Joe to me. Should he be otherwise?
I don't doubt that by now you see the hazard here: how shall we relate differently to a well-known brother once he is ordained? In a certain sense, he has gone from "one of us" to someone to follow, honor and submit to. This transition of relationship can be very difficult.
As you relate to the newly-ordained brother, guard your heart! Yes, he is still "one of us" but he should no longer be just ole Joe.
Recycled Ron. This new-in-the-ministry brother is anything but new to us. School teacher, youth chorus director, jack of many trades--we appreciate his varied contributions to congregational life. But somehow getting ordained didn't work an immediate transformation in him. Yes, he is different in some ways, but still we expect "more of the same" from him. What now?
He's a tad younger than I. In the process of serving in the same school together for some years, our friendship strengthened and our mutual appreciation increased. I know Ron fairly well, even some of his weaknesses. But now he's an ordained man. How shall I esteem and follow him now?
Hence the hazard: familiarity may breed contempt. Be it Ron or Joe or James or Delbert or Maynard or Levi or Sterling or Arlan or Jim or Name-Your-Own-Minister, an awareness of weakness should not lead us to contempt or mistrust. We easily see that. However, what is less obvious to many is that we are so easily led to an attitude of "He may be repackaged, but I know this'n'that about him. He has nothing over me. I just expect more of the same."
As you respond to the new minister, guard your heart! Of course he's imperfect. Of course he has a flawed record. (What did you think made him "one of us" anyway?!) But God expects you to appreciate and follow him. In a very real sense, this is a time to give all ministers a new slate. Trust and refuse to live in the past.
Return to Sunday School Comments index