Friday, June 17, 2011

Who’s Next?

Matthew 10:16-17  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.  But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

Those verses hold some interesting thoughts.  As do the articles that brought those verses to mind.  Wednesday, John Piper did an interview with Don Carson and Tim Keller on pastoral succession.  That discussion can be found on video at http://bit.ly/jFyMO0.  Then, Thursday, Pastor Mark Driscoll wrote a post about 10 things to keep in mind when putting together a leadership team.  That one’s at http://ow.ly/5jChe.  Awhile back, the church I belong to went through a bit of a succession crisis, with resulting changes in staffing and leadership.  So, the two articles, only a day apart, served to remind me of the situation.  And some lessons that can be learned.


The result of the wrong people in leadership or in leadership for the wrong reasons is that, given the nature of our flesh, someone is going to think more highly of themselves than they ought to.  Or less of themselves than they ought to.  Self exaltation or self condemnation.  The resulting chaos, when it came  time to select a new head pastor at our church, wasn’t pretty.  I don’t want to get into who may have been right and who might have been wrong.  That’s not the issue.  When there’s a need for succession, there’s always going to be a sorting out process.  The points in Pastor Mark’s list are important to keep in mind, when we think of that.  I urge you to click on the link above and read the article.  And understand that verse 17 is a direct result of wrong thinking in leadership.

The Piper interview highlights some other issues.  In our church, the founding pastor was “larger than life”.  He started with a very small church and let God use him to develop that into a worldwide ministry.  And he had a strong personality.  Almost to the end, even with some health problems, there was very little thought of someone ever replacing him.  I  suspect there were a lot of us who thought the rapture would come before we’d ever need a new pastor.  Elections occurred, a recommendation came from our founding pastor, eventually getting the job done.  But not as neatly as we ought to have.  Tim Keller chose another route.  He has already replaced himself with a local pastor for each of the churches he built up, remaining active only in the teaching aspects of ministry.  His thinking is that God will raise up each of those pastors in whatever way He chooses, whether it be just that church, all the churches in the group, or new churches coming out of the already existing ministries.  And John Piper has given his ministry notice that it’s time to start looking for a replacement, that he will be stepping down in 2014 as overseeing pastor of his ministry.  Which brings me to verse 16.

We’ve talked about leadership and pastoral succession.  But both are really situations in which we can live in verse 16…or not.  Wise, but gentle.  And there are a few points in regard to that:
  1. As much as I believe the pastoral transition was not as neat as it could have been, I’m certain we ended up with God’s man.  And that this really was a Romans 8:28 situation being redeemed with God’s intended result.
  2. That things like ministry, succession, attitudes, leadership, etc. are important things to consider and deal with before there’s an issue.  They’re what other members of the Body are affected by.  And they’re what the unsaved see as our example.  We can bless and draw or negatively effect others by our choices and words in those areas.  Does our ministry bless and attract or does it harm and give a negative impression?
  3. Doing things “decently and in good order” is a life choice, not a ministry choice.  I had a friend who used to say that “my rights end where yours begin.”  How do our decisions impact those around us?
  4. Do I allow God complete veto rights to my life?  So that it’s His choice how we’re used.  Or do we listen to what others say about what we should be, based on some ungodly bias based on genetics, history, etc.?
Whatever is part of our earthly existence, we don’t live it in a vacuum.  And, whether we like it or not, by choosing God, we also choose to be His earthly representative, both in and outside the Body of Christ.  So, we need to be asking Christ for the Grace to do that well.

We’ve got Russ, Columbia, Jimmy and Betty. Curtis, Peggy, Joyce, Dana and Libby to pray for.  And their families.  And our International Convention begins Monday.  The theme is “Anointed to Serve”.  Pray that God has His way in hearts.

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