You are Gifted to Lead

Pastor Rachel Billups

In the great gymnasium of life, do you ever feel like teams are being chosen and you’re agonizing, hoping, waiting for someone to choose you out of the line up?

Life can sometimes feel like one long gym class.

When I was a kid, I hated gym class.  I had a childhood aversion to sweat, didn’t want to run, didn’t want to play games, and certainly never wanted to make a fool of myself by doing something I knew for sure I couldn’t do!

Faith can feel that way, too– just waiting for God to pick us.   And although we may not be eager to be picked FIRST, we certainly don’t want to be last.

Is that how God works?  No, not at all.

Our God is an abundant God that showers the community of faith with gifts of leadership.

Some of you are excellent leadership material and you don’t even know it.

We’ve already debunked this quasi-entertainment model of church.

Church isn’t something we attend; church is who we are!

We are church in our homes, our communities and throughout the world.  And leaders are simply Jesus followers who’ve gone to the head of the pack. They’re not afraid to go first.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, become more – then you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams

Open your Bible to the New Testament letter of Ephesians chapter 4.  Paul, having spent two years in Ephesus as a church planter and missionary, now finds himself in jail. He is writing a letter to the Church in Ephesus, and he’s not holding back:

 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4: 11-13 NIV).

This passage is known as the 5-fold ministry of the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  Although this isn’t an exhaustive list of God jobs or even the only list that Paul pens in other letters, he’s encouraging this idea of church leadership.

Learning from Paul, and others from the Bible, here are three leadership attitudes required of every Christian:

1. SELF-LEADERSHIP

All leadership begins with self-leadership.

 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4: 1 NIV).

Live a life worthy of the calling.

Are you who you say you are?

Like… who you are at home, is who you are at work, is who you are at church?

When we claim the name of Jesus, our lives are no longer our own.

 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:4 NIV).

Those first followers in Ephesus couldn’t just do whatever they wanted to do.  If they made the commitment to follow Jesus it meant every day, all the time.

Look, I get it, we aren’t perfect.  We are only human after all.

But what if we started with leading ourselves in a daily rhythm that deepens our relationship with God and others: prayer, wrestling with the Bible, loving our neighbors regardless, loving your spouse and your kids, being the hands and feet of Jesus when nobody’s looking.

Not so that we can get a gold star from Jesus, but so we can be who we say we are!

 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4: 2 NIV).

That’s a litmus test!

Humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love.

I don’t know if any of those would make your top 10 traits of a leaders.

Maybe that’s because we need to totally revolutionize our definition of leadership?

2. SERVANT LEADERSHIP

All leadership is servant leadership

I’ve been listening to the podcast “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.”

Listen to the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

Mars Hill was a church in Seattle most famously linked to their superstar Pastor, Mark Discroll.

Because of Mark’s oppressive leadership style, Mars Hill crumbled overnight.

But also because 15,000 people signed on to be pastored by a narcissist.

People excused his abusive behavior because the church was growing.

We Christians love the single hero leader. One man or woman who’s going to make it all happen, bring the goods and the secret sauce to success.  He or she is rewarded for their remarkable accomplishments. Out of our deep desire to make a better world, we hold onto the notion that only the most charismatic get to play in God’s game.

We elevate charisma before character.

We have a whole generation looking at leaders in the church and shaking their heads, because they hear a preacher talk about following Jesus—that Palestinian Jew, who was a renegade homeless preacher who cared an awful lot for people on the margins–and what the preacher is preaching doesn’t add up to the preacher’s lifestyle.

I function as the senior pastor of Ginghamsburg Church. If I follow Jesus, then I need to be the senior servant of the church as well.

I don’t see the solo hero leader model anywhere in the Bible anywhere.

There’s no room for lone rangers.

Leadership isn’t about one person or even one church.  Leadership is about building up the whole body of Christ.

 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 11-13 NIV).

The purpose of leadership is to build up the whole church.  The big-C Church.

We have this illusion that we can leave a church and just leave that church behind.

“I didn’t like what they were doing so I’m going to the church down the street.” -almost every Christian.

Brothers and sisters, even if we physically leave we are eternally connected to the church up the street, down the street and on the other side of the globe.

Any division in the body on this side of heaven is a false division.

We are all a part of all of God’s family, whether we like it or not.

James and John asked Jesus if they could sit on his right and left in his Kingdom. Jesus smacked his forehead then (gently) blasted them for missing the point.

 “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 42-45 NIV).

How have we missed this?

All leadership in Jesus’ movement is servant leadership.

It’s not about building our own platform, or about being the best thing in town. We need to flip this thing upside and learn, again, how to serve others.

3. SENSATIONAL LEADERSHIP

Leadership has an incredible upside.

Sensational leadership is when a person connects, relates, inspires, encourages and mentors people.  It’s when you are as passionate about pouring into the people you lead.  It’s opening up the team roster.

What if we took the 5-fold ministry of the church seriously?

If we did, we would have apostles who keep an eye on the news and a heart in the world. We would have prophets who love regardless and challenge the status quo. We would have Evangelists who extend the edges of their tables. We would have pastors who care for children and the most vulnerable. We would have teachers who train people to apply what they read in the Bible!

When you step up to lead, people will no longer be alone –  they will realize they are part of something bigger than themselves.

When everybody in the faith community contributes, no one is left out. We are all working together to build each other up.

This doesn’t happen if you don’t lead.  Don’t wait to be picked.

Watch the full message here:

Rachel Billups 1 Senior Pastor Visionary

Rachel Billups
Senior Pastor | Ginghamsburg Church
rbillups@ginghamsburg.org