"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22 (NKJV)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 22: Remember Your Leaders

"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." ~ Hebrews 13:7

I've been thinking about our two City Lights pastors, Ben and Eric. I find them inspiring for two reasons: because they are just men, flawed like me, and because they've done something great to advance God's kingdom (unlike me). One thing I love about Ben and Eric is that they don't pretend to be something they're not. As they teach and lead the church, they share their flaws and their struggles in a way that's healthy, winsome and encouraging. On the other hand, they've done this amazing thing.

In May 2003, they and a very small team of dedicated people left comfortable homes and lives in southern Illinois to come to St. Louis and plant City Lights. Nurturing and growing a little fragile baby church hasn't been easy. Church planting is difficult work, especially in the city. For City Lights, it has sometimes felt like two steps forward and one step back. Ben and Eric have experienced set backs and pain along the journey. Through it all, they've been a steadfast example of faith and joy to the church. When attendance and then giving declined a few years ago, Ben and Eric took full time jobs outside the church so that City Lights could keep going. As a result of their obedience, lives in St. Louis have been changed for the better and souls have been saved. Their example of faithful, sacrificial, joyful obedience to God makes me want to not only be a doer of God's word but inspires me to want to live and die serving and honoring God.

The main point of Hebrews 13:7 is that we should think about the example of our leaders and imitate them. I think, however, there is a bit more involved in "remembering." As we go about living out all of those "one another" commands---serving, encouraging, praying for and offering hospitality to one another---we ought to keep in mind our leaders. We ought to remember that they are just men and women who may need our service, encouragement, friendship and prayers. Although they are working for God's sake and not the praise of men, we can be a means by which God conveys His pleasure and encouragement to them. We should show and tell our leaders that they are appreciated. I've tried to do a bit of that in the last week. It was long overdue. Of course, we should always remember to obey our leaders and submit to their authority, as the writer of Hebrews admonishes us to do a few verses after this week's command. Hebrews 13:17. No amount of encouraging words will mean anything to our leaders, if we conspire behind their backs to undermine them.

My wife and I lead a small group at City Lights. This last week, our small group members showed me a great picture of what it looks like to remember leaders. At our regular Thursday group meeting, the entire small group prayed for us. On Friday evening, a couple guys from group came to our house and helped move furniture around in preparation for the imminent arrival of our baby girl. Meanwhile, some of the ladies from small group attended a small baby shower for Christina and blessed us with some wonderful gifts. Thanks so much, dear friends! I was moved and encouraged that our group remembered us in such wonderful ways this week.

This week, I'm starting a new phase of The James 1:22 Project, as I take on the first of a series of commands related to controlling our speech. More on that in about one week. Until then, grace and peace to you.

1 comment:

  1. I was contemplating a bit of this myself this week. As I celebrated my 25th birthday, I took time to pray and asked God to remind me of the various promises he's given me and about the woman he wants me to become as I mature in Him. I was reminded of my call to follow and respect the leaders above me, Ben and Eric being high on the short list. It's a good reminder to not only obey their leadership, but to encourage them, too. As a PK, that should be easy to know it's worth and value.