Who gets to do what around here? Human beings need to find their place in the world. Hopefully, we discover our place under the authority of God, a creature under the Creator. Sin equals rebellion against the Creator’s authority. We want our way over God and over fellow creatures made in God’s image. We are power-hungry sinners, this is true.
Power-hungry sin can even be seen within the bride of Christ, the local church. I have grown up in the church as a pastor’s kid, I’ve served as a pastor for 14 years and have heard dozens of stories to confirm my assertion. The church is made up of power-hungry sinners. It takes one to know one.
I am hopeful that the past two years of struggle (Covid, political division, etc.) has re-oriented what we fight about and for within the local church. Brothers and sisters in Christ are not the enemy. Evil is real and the Evil One loves to sow division through power struggles. Our only enemies are sin, death, and the Evil One.
At the ULC we’ve witnessed stories of hope. We’ve witnessed churches partnering to reach the poor with the Gospel. We’ve witnessed churches starting to collaborate in their digital ministry. We’ve witnessed churches realizing everything they need to advance the Gospel is found within their local churches - all the people needed for deployment are “within their house.”
My Dad is retiring from being a full-time pastor this year after 40 years of faithful service. He almost quit during his first year because of a power struggle in a rural congregation. He was 26 years old when his first voter’s meeting turned into a debate on where the legion flag should be placed in the sanctuary. Dad’s head elder asked Dad for his opinion. He sheepishly said, “Uhh…I’ll just let the voters decide.” The displeased elder pounded his fist on the table and said, “Well, pastor, if that is the way you feel…I’m leaving the church.”
The way my Dad tells the story today is quite humorous. It wasn’t funny 40 years ago. The power struggle continued for a few weeks. Dad did not like conflict. The Evil One whispered to Dad one day as the postman drove by the house, “Why don’t you give up and find a less stressful job, like that?” (No disrespect intended to mailmen and women.) My Mom talked him down from quitting. I’m thankful a power struggle did not keep my Dad from sharing the Gospel as a local church pastor.
I am hopeful petty power struggles are a thing of the past. I’m hopeful all pastors and church leaders will pursue peace and passion to fight for the advancement of the Gospel. Everything else is a distraction in a post-Christian era with pre-Christians desperately needing Jesus. I pray you’ll use this clarifying question when making Spirit-led decisions.
“Will this decision serve to advance the Gospel for those who are not here?”
And when we ask, “Who gets to do what around here?” may we boldly say, “God. God does the work around here. The power of the Triune God, best displayed in the weakness of the cross, is all we need.” By the Spirit’s power choose weakness, not power.