Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leadership's Pure Joy

Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.

~ James 1:4 (Context James 1:2-8)

God seemed to have set the stage. I was the only one who could attend the meeting with the women’s ministry pastor. This is good, I thought. This will make it easier to explain my situation.

My heart was thumping boldly in my chest, my palms a little clammy and my breathing a bit shaky. After an exchange of greetings and small talk, I took a deep breath and forged ahead, “I need some wise counsel.” She smiled, raised an eyebrow and sat back with a little chuckle at her own joke. As she quietly listened, I shared my irritations fully expecting her to agree that our church should not promote an organization that does such things.

Instead, there was silence. Time seemed to stand still. Then, with that same gentle smile, she spoke. I felt the prick of what I knew was intended to be discipline and encouragement. With the patience of a mom guiding a toddler’s steps, she related the importance of perseverance and working together for the common good even when we don’t fully agree on every issue. Knowing my passion, she asked a few simple questions. “Do you still agree with the vision and mission of the ministry? Do the differences out weigh God’s purpose? Does this issue make it impossible for you to work with other leaders in the ministry?” She knew my answers.

Shifting in my seat and looking for another way out, I waded in further with “maybe I just need to step out of leadership for awhile.” That’s really what I was looking for. I was tired and feeling overwhelmed. My aggravations were simply providing the scapegoat.

An even bigger smile came on her face. For the next few moments I listened as she explained God’s work does not include a vacation plan. He may at times guide us to different areas of ministry but there is no scripture that indicates quitting as an option. Perseverance, she reminded me, is the choice of the one who has given all of their life to Christ.

I left her office with only a half-grin on my face, hanging my head, not sure whether I was defeated or inspired. “I’ll pray about it,” I promised as I exited the privacy of her generally cozy office. By the time I walked a few steps down the narrow isle between rows of cubicles, I knew she was speaking God’s truth to me and for me. I didn’t know how I would resume my role, but I knew perseverance was the route to go.

It’s been just a few months since that day and I am realizing that perseverance is not easy. And, it is very humbling when I have impudently voiced my opinions to the overseers of my work. At nearly 44 years old, I feel like a teenager who is learning a great deal from her discipline.

Bailing out would have been the easier path. And, I had good reason to do so, I thought. But my faith is not in the ministry leaders at a headquarters far away. My faith is in God who is right here with me. It is his work. I have gained wisdom and a few steps toward maturity because I am persevering. I’m not winning any disagreements. I’ve actually quieted down in my work. I’m learning perseverance is easier and the work more glorifying to God without a lot of noise from me.

Here's a few questions to help you determine who your faith is in.
  • Are you one who bails out or perseveres at the trials of ministry?

  • Do you spend time trying to convince other leaders that you are right and others are wrong?

  • Is your perspective as important to God as it is to you?

Now the big question. Are you willing quit running away and give up the fight for the sake of His purposes?

Perseverance is not comfortable but it is the only way to maturity in Christ and for that reason, you can consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.

Lord Jesus, you are the author and perfecter of our faith. Thank you for giving wisdom generously, without finding fault. In those times of trials and testing, with our eyes fully on you, may we never doubt your guidance. Perfect our faith, O Lord, for the sake of your name.

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the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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