Saturday, April 26, 2014

Equipped to work

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Ephesians 4:1-16

TO CHEW ON: "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-12

What is your perception of your pastor's purpose? Do you see him as someone whose job it is to entertain, educate and challenge you in his Sunday sermons, to encourage you, to visit you when you're sick and generally cater to you? Or in your mind, does his job description also include getting you ready to do some of those things for others?

Paul talks about the role of leadership in this passage in terms of equipping. Jack Hayford in his notes on Ephesians, comments: "Equipping implies: 1) a recovered wholeness as when a broken limb is set and mended; 2) a discovered function as when a physical member is properly operating" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible p. 1650.

Paul's language here is quite clear about the role of church leaders. While one of their jobs is to care for us as in help us recover wholeness, another is to help us to discover our ministry role and equip us to care for others.

What others?

I would suggest all those whose lives touch ours in some way. This would include people we live with (family), the people we live beside, the people we interact with not only face-to-face but virtually through Facebook, and email. Even the writing I'm doing here is the fruit of my pastor's equipping in my life.

I see a couple of implications for everyday living:

1. If we're leaders (one of those apostles,* prophets, evangelists or teachers) one of our goals should be to equip our 'disciples' to do ministry.

2. As disciples / parishioners / church members, we need to realize that our pastor's role is not all about us—how entertaining he is as a speaker, how often he visits us when we're sick, how wise he is as a counselor, etc. Rather, it is to prepare us to take on some of those ministry responsibilities as we share the burden for the well-being of the body of Christ.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to be a giver, not just a taker when it comes to responsibility in the body of Christ. And help my pastor and other church leaders as they work in their many roles. Amen.

MORE: Spiritual leadership

Bob Hamp, in a guest post on Michael Hyatt's blog says, "Not all leaders in religious organizations are spiritual leaders. This is not a criticism as much as a distinction. Distinguishing spiritual leadership from other forms of leadership can free people from unrealistic expectations of some leaders.

At the same time, making this distinction can help identify who the spiritual leaders in your organization are..." 

Hamp's observation alerts us to the possibility that we, as laypeople, can be spiritual leaders. His article goes on to give six characteristics of spiritual leaders:

1. They lead others into their own encounters with God.
2. They lead others to discover their own purpose and identity.
3. They lead others into transformation—not just production.
4. They impact their atmosphere.
5. They help people see old things in new ways.
6. They gain a following because of who they are—not because of a position they hold.

Read all of "6 Characteristics of Spiritual Leaders."

* Apostles: Are there still apostles today? Many insist that office ended in the New Testament era. Jack Hayford, in his notes on Ephesians says:
"Beyond the distinct role filled by the original founding apostles, the NT mentions enough additional apostles to indicate that this office, with that of prophets, is as continuing a ministry in the church as the more commonly acknowledged offices of evangelist, pastors and teachers" New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1650.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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