Paul finds himself in a precarious situation. His intentions are being questioned by the very ones he holds dear. They are probing and asking for a resume, background check, and letter of recommendation. Read 2 Cor. 3:1-6.
Church, we shouldn’t be offended when our intentions are being interrogated. Instead, we should live a transparent life and live it well. People are craving authenticity…not sugar-coating. They want the real deal.
How to Lead like Paul:
- Stay Grounded: Are you pursuing and shepherding the hearts of others? Or are you after a shiny veneer? A healthy church has a Christ-centered, service-oriented focus. They want others to feel loved and accepted as soon as they walk through the door. They pursue deep, long-lasting relationships with a goal of heart-change, not merely behaviour modification. This is when church life gets hard…because it means loving people through the hard, messy stuff in life. Peeling away layers of the onion. Exposing what lies at the root. However, too many churches are more concerned with outer appearance. They are stuck in survival mode, rather than pursuing intimacy. Church attendance. Buildings and bulletins. Giving statistics. Be careful that numbers don’t become more important than names.
- Be Genuine: As a leader, do you confess the things you are struggling with? Or do you cast a judgemental eye? No one wants to hang out with Goody-2-Shoes all of the time. People need real, authentic relationships. They want to know you are real. They want to know they’re not alone in the battle against sin. And quite honestly, they want to know that you are on their side.
- Admit your Flaws: Church, sometimes others want to know your imperfections. It’s okay if everything doesn’t run smoothly and there’s a crack in your voice or the video downstream goes out. People are okay with it. Seriously, they are. They want to know you’re relatable. You’re vulnerable. You have emotions. Life isn’t always swell. A relatable church is like unearthing a pearl in a clamshell. It is a difficult find.
- Be Humble: Is your pastor willing to plunge the toilet, hold a baby, or greet you at the door? Humility is refreshing…breaking down barriers between church staff and churchgoers. There are so many people who have pushed church away because they’ve been hurt by the hypocrites inside. It’s a common temptation when you’ve been wronged. Let’s admit we’re all sinners needing a Savior. Flawed and messy. Broken inside.
When we pursue church rather than Jesus, we’ve got our priorities wrong.
- Point upward: Is the top priority pointing others to Jesus? Not programs. Not classes. Not bulletins, or the choir. J.E.S.U.S. He should be brought to the forefront in everything we do. When I was a child, I attended a church program where you were awarded for the number of verses you could recite. The “type A” personalities flourished as their red vest became littered with award badges. But unfortunately, the heart matters were ignored. Recognition became the primary goal.
Paul was different. Not merely a peddler of the Word of God. He served out of sincere, heartfelt affection. He was beat, flogged, mocked, bloodied, shipwrecked, and imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel and others. He described the people he loved as “written on his heart.” Souls. Heartbeats. Connection. New Covenant. Intimacy. Life. Living Beings. What would it look like if your church (including you and me) served others out of sincere and genuine hearts? I’ll tell you what it would look like…a lot more like Jesus.
Not merely church attendance.
Or perfect programming.
Or shiny veneers.
We should be a real, authentic, Jesus-reflecting, people group whose heart desire is to love God and love others well. Think about…to love someone so much that they are etched on your heart. Paul lived love. Will you?
Other resources: Christianity Today