Well, if you are a leader in your church over the spiritual care of others, are you for real? Do you represent what you teach, and does your reputation match the real you? Yes, these are painful questions I ask myself. The reason I know I have to ask them is because everyone around me asks them to one degree or another. The honest answer would be, “not really.” I am not that “for real” or at least as much as I should be. Gasp. It’s true. I am selfish and at times do not see the incredible value of the people right in front of me, including at times my very own family. Yeah, I would do anything for the local church. But perhaps that is the problem.
Being “for real” means that what I represent better be backed up by what I do. I have seen others live off of the fumes of spiritual fires long extinguished by trial, burnout, and complacency. They crash. That could be me! The pressure of ministry leadership at times assaults where self-protection, self-preservation and self-absorption tempt a pastor to live in a bunker of his own design where compliments are plenty and challenge is limited. “Emperor, you might not have clothes but what the heck, you got a nice personality on the church platform!”
I do believe that the character I have or you have does matters as a leader. What I also believe is that no one is perfect and the issue is not hiding or running from weaknesses or deficiencies but being savvy enough to see yourself as God sees you, not others who might be too close to make the right call , or yourself who may be afraid to test the pain threshold of God-led self-examination.
The bottom line is that I really want to be “for real” to those I lead. I fail at this, for sure. Yeah, I am human and perhaps at times, people have unrealistic expectations. I am not wanting to people to affirm me and say that I am “for real” as much as I want to moderate their expectations to simply appreciating how my gifting and calling contributes to their lives. I cannot save them, or vicariously live their spiritual lives for them. My role is to clear the path, which means even I might be in the way in a given situation.
Here are some unfinished thoughts I am learning on this journey of leading myself so I can lead others.
- God-examination is always better than self-examination. Psalm 44:21
- God is not looking for perfect leaders, he is looking for available leaders. 1 Timothy 1:15
- People around me might be too close to really call me out. I gotta work on letting people in who speak truth, and in love and who are safe. Ephesians 4:15
- My calling has to be protected more than my ego. John 3:30
- Leadership means I give up self-protection, self-preservation, and self-absorption as vices for the greater good of those around me and myself. Luke 9:24
- God is not finished with me, so buck it up and act like the person I know God wants me to be. If I am right, His strength will come through for me. Timothy 4:17
Well, are you “for real” or what?