March 19
The church and its leaders
1 Corinthians 4:1-13

KEY VERSE: So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 1 Corinthians 4:1

An effective church must have good leaders. Not perfect leaders, but good leaders, men and women who will pay the price of offering leadership. There is a price to be paid. When we seek to lead, others may not be willing to follow. We will find some who would rather bicker than to offer their support to us.

We may be criticized by those who question our ability to lead. We may have to get on our knees and ask the Lord to help us know how to deal with the "loyal opposition." That is part of the price to be paid. There are fleas that go with the dog of leadership.

There is risk involved in leadership. Even if we pray earnestly for guidance, we may make mistakes and fail now and then. But if we are willing to keep trying, and continue to trust God, eventually He will mold us into effective leaders.

We will be rejected sometimes, but we can quietly take our pain to the Lord rather than seeking the pity of others. We will sometimes encounter hostility but we can refrain from returning anger for anger. We can patiently wait people out, allowing the Lord to heal a divisive attitude, until we are able to work together in spite of differences. We can unite in goals that are bigger than the little things that separate us.

Effective leaders are, as Paul teaches us, servant leaders. There is much talk these days about servant leadership, but it is not a new idea. Paul understands that those who would lead God's people must learn to lead by the example of servanthood.

It will help us to rely on certain principles as we lead. One can be stated this way: "Progress, not perfection, is our goal." Trying to be perfect is impossible and frustrating. But slowly, with the Lord's help, we can make a little progress. Inch by inch, so to speak.

Another principle that can help is this: "Give others a chance to serve and forget about taking credit for everything." Those who wish to receive all the glory, who are forever seeking the applause of their fellows, know little of servanthood and succeed in getting little accomplished over the long haul.

This principle is basic to good leadership: "Prayer empowers leadership." We must be willing to admit our need of the prayer support of others. People must be willing to bathe their leaders in prayer, asking God to guide and use them.

When God raises up leaders in our church, we are wise not to question Him, but to pray earnestly for God to use them mightily. Paul knew that his effectiveness depended upon the help of God and the prayers of the people.

So does ours.