Part II: I'm a local church leader: What the heck am I doing?!
When it comes to leadership, the Apostle Paul’s Principle is fairly simple: “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
This verse comes as a conclusion to a discussion on the issue of freedom/liberty. Should we be allowed to eat meat sold in the Meat Market even though it may have been offered in sacrifice to an idol? YES. But if a young believer invites you over and they say “Hey, did you know has been offered in sacrifice to an idol?!” Say NO to eating the meat so as not to cause the other person (especially a young believer) to stumble.
In one way, this is a weird passage from which the major leadership principle comes.
In another way, it’s perfect. When it comes to making decisions and carrying them out as well as giving counsel to others, most of the time we’re dealing with grey area matters. That’s why you come to a leader: If the answer was clear, you wouldn’t need to run it by someone. But because it’s not clear…and you’re looking for wisdom, experience, knowledge, & guidance.
Thus, the core principle of leadership to which I adhere: Leading by Following. Leading by following Jesus while in the midst of others.
Jesus always sought the good of others – to benefit them, even if it mean sacrifice to himself. Paul is saying, when it comes to eating, I do the same. Being a good church leader starts by being a good sheep. This idea of leading by following is repeated elsewhere by Paul in Philippians 4: 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
“The follow me” component has caused me to alter the way I ‘do’ discipleship. Perhaps in the past, you experienced discipleship by reading a book of the Bible or some other book with another questions. You asked questions about the book, learned together, & prayed together. These kinds of studies have been beneficial in my life. A few years ago I heard a pastor named Francis Chan talk about this and he admitted he read 1 Cor. 11:1 and his perspective changed. There was something missing and that was a hands-on component to discipleship. Come follow my example as I seek to follow Jesus' example.
What does that look like? (a) Taking along someone to a coffee shop with you, read through your book, but look for opportunities to share the gospel with others there; (b) having someone serve alongside you in Children’s Ministry or on the Hospitality Team; (c) Parents having young couples (that may or may not have children) be around your family. Let 'em just hang around and watch -- perhaps even let them, over time, do some babysitting (a lot of young couples have no other model for healthy parenting...or healthy marriages for that matter); (d) For me, I enjoy helping to teach people to teach, showing them what I do, and then empowering them to do it. (e) Might come in the context of Small Group leading/Discipleship – spend 6 months getting into God’s Word together, then pull in one or two more persons and let your ‘trainee’ lead.
No matter what we do, as leaders we are called first to be good sheep, trust that others will take notice, and then be intentional about inviting them along for the ride. Yes, this can happen in ye ole local church.