One of the best practices for a Christian leader is to keep your eye on those who are both living life well and ministering well.
Examples have a way of teaching, inspiring and encouraging us. An example can be a powerful motivator. I may know something to be true but it may become vivid and concrete when I see someone living out this truth in front of me.
I want to suggest five kinds of people that church leaders would do well to pay attention to.
Church leaders, sometimes, give far too much attention to people who are demanding our attention in some way, often in the form of a complaint.
I want to encourage us to take notice of the following people:
1. Pay attention to those who display integrity in their personal and public lives. So many of these people are ordinary folks. They are everyday people who are genuinely trying to do what is right whether anyone is watching or not. On one occasion, I was a part of a church retreat at which a high school boy told the group why he admired his dad. The reason? He had witnessed the godly way his dad made decisions. Wow. Don’t underestimate these wonderful people who love their spouses and their children and work hard to make a living. Church leaders really need to be more intentional about affirming these godly, ordinary people.
2. Pay attention to those whose presence causes you to want to be a better person. Do you know people like this? You love to be in their presence. There is something about their lives that makes you want to be a more godly man/woman. Maybe you’ve had the experience of being with certain church leaders and you come away wanting to be a better minister, elder, etc.
3. Pay attention to those who exhibit wisdom in their lives. Really wise people will usually not try to convince you that they are. Rather, wise people have a way of being. They exhibit wisdom in the way they talk, the way they treat people, and the decisions they make. Be attentive to the questions that wise people ask. Typically the questions are probing and insightful and have a way of causing us to consider what is really important.
Looking back at when I first became a minister, I realize that I sometimes became impressed with the wrong people. At times I became enamored of people who seemed to be successful, articulate, and popular. Years later, I am much more impressed by church leaders who again and again exhibit wisdom.
4. Pay attention to those who continue to learn. Occasionally, I’ve heard church leaders say (both publicly and privately) that they really don’t know much about the computer, their smart phone, etc. Often they communicate an unwillingness to learn and grow in this area. Yet, I wonder how they expect church members to take them seriously when they talk about spiritual growth.
If they aren’t willing to grow in their use of everyday technology, how can they expect others to take them seriously when they talk about “getting out of your comfort zone” and being willing to grow spiritually?
5. Pay attention to those who seem to take the first and second commandments seriously. Now this is critical. Yes, it is important to preach the importance of these two commandments. Yet, simply because I say it in a sermon doesn’t make it so in my life. What I preach really does matter. However, because I preach something doesn’t mean that it is a reality in my life. Saying it again and again doesn’t create a reality. I become a person who loves God and loves others by living this out each day.
Those who have a deep love for God and who treat people with great value really do deserve our attention. This person may be a minister, an elder or simply a man or woman who is following Jesus daily.
What have you learned by paying attention to these kinds of people?