In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul turns his attention to the matter of unity within the body of Christ as he exhorts us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ (verse 1). The first half of the chapter provides a vivid portrayal of the type of unity that should characterize the functioning of the church: Spirit-led, interdependent co-laboring of diversely gifted yet deeply integrated, mature followers of Jesus Christ.
In Philippians 4:2, Paul begins the final section of his book to the church at Philippi. He states, “I entreat [urge, plead with] Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together…” The Bible does not share a great deal of information about these two women. Obviously, they had labored together with Paul and now they were having relational issues. Paul makes some interesting statements here in the passage regarding relational health within the body.
In the short yet powerful epistle of 3 John, the reader is presented with a comparison. On the one hand there is the Godly leader Gaius who apparently was impacted personally by John’s leadership and ministry. If you look closely at the first several verses, you will notice that John was committed to truth, hospitality and sharing the Lord’s work with other leaders. John was a collaborative leader and Gaius faithfully followed in John’s footsteps. These men contrast with the egotistical leader named Diotrephes. John notes that this leader was so preoccupied with his own greatness and agenda he actively pushed away anyone not assisting him in his all-consuming quest for preeminence.
Several years ago I wrote a book on decision-making in the local church, in which I addressed how to know when to be decisive. Many leaders struggle with discerning when they should make a unilateral decision versus when to pause and listen to the views of other members of the leadership team. The question becomes, “is this a situation that requires me to lead unilaterally, or is it better to allow others’ perspectives to shape and guide the final outcome?”
To be completely honest, I’m surprised that we even need to focus on the topic of daily devotions. It is an obvious practice that all Christians ought to be utilizing. In our churches we encourage new believers to develop this foundational practice. So it should be second nature for God’s leaders to have a daily time alone with God. Yet we at IBL know by experience that many leaders skip right past this crucial time as they head into the hectic workday serving Christ and His Kingdom. Unfortunately, it is commonplace as we counsel couples having significant personal spiritual struggles, or as we coach individuals stressed by the weight of leadership decisions, that we find ourselves needing to give counsel about the practice of daily devotions.
Focus. How elusive it is. Demands of ministry. Urgent needs. Crises. Schedules full to overflowing. Never-ending stress. Intensity! Those of us on the IBL team face these conditions more often than not. I’ve often said to my wife, “We’re so busy we don’t know how to cram one more thing into our schedule.” How about you?
In our pursuit of serving biblical leaders, we are starting several series of practical articles covering a variety of topics helpful for ministry leaders. Today’s article is the first in a series called Shepherd to Shepherd. This series will feature pastors writing honestly about the varied challenges of faithful service.