I have been in leadership, in one form or another, for over 40 years. I still find it very challenging. I have never found it easy. Of course, when I was younger I thought that it would be a breeze. I was headstrong and full of confidence. I thought I knew so much. How arrogant I was and I cringe when I think back to those early days of leadership. It did not take too long to realize my stupidity and I began the lifelong process of learning to lead. And yes, I am still not there yet. I am still a work in progress … I have told you before that I am a slow learner!
Leadership is often a lonely job. There are always decisions to make. In many ways there is much expectation placed upon you. There are people to please and people to guide and encourage. And then there are those who really do not want to be led. Yet God appoints leaders to His church. They are appointed to serve and their service is leadership! They are not to be worshipped or held up in ‘bright lights’. Each leader is different because God is the one who gives them His gifts to grow and lead His church. God entrusts each leader with a host of things and all for the purpose to help people grow closer to Him.
The church in Corinth struggled with the concept of leadership. In chapter 4 we gain much insight in how Paul views leadership, and in particular, how it relates to the cross of Jesus. One commentator suggests that church leaders should not be seen as heads of parties, or even as ministers of the church, but as ‘Christ’s underlings’; men without any authority of their own, whose soul business is to execute the commands of the Lord. They are to be recognized as God’s stewards! Perhaps the hardest hitting teaching for me in this chapter is that being a Christian leader brings with it a life that must be lived in accordance with the light of the cross of Jesus. Sometimes I think it would be easier to hand over to someone else!
There is much in this chapter for us to consider. Pastor Ernest will help us in our understanding this morning. There really is much for the Christian leader to ponder in these verses and there is much for those who sit under their leadership to also take to heart. Remember this is part of a letter written to a Christian church going through a time of division!