Leadership gets really tough sometimes, no question about it. So why do we do it? Why do leaders lead? Because people need leadership. They need leaders who will sacrifice for them, who are willing to have their integrity and commitment and character questioned, who will refuse to share with them information that could hurt them or someone else, who will not act superior and play other religious games, and who will, when necessary, take their lumps when a tough call needs to be made. If leaders gave up when it got tough, we’d be doing exactly what we are trying to teach our people not to do. How will they stick it out if we turn tail and run when the heat is on? How could we ever expect them to? What right do we even have to ask someone to do what we are not willing to do ourselves?
Once in a while we see growth. Actually a great deal more often than once in a while. Someone apologizes and takes responsibility for something they did or said that was hurtful or destructive. Someone buries the hatchet and decides to keep having faith in their leader(s) even when they can’t see the full path. Someone has a difficult conversation and decides to make a relationship work when it would be far easier to run. Someone chooses not to give in to anger and frustration and suspicion, which are so rampant in society today. Indeed it often seems that the only ones considered intelligent are the cynical ones.
As for me, I will not be a cynic. Not about my people — I will have faith in their potential to grow, that who they are now is not who they will be. Not about my church — I will have faith in its place in the community. Not about my co-leaders — I will have faith in their loyalty to God, to the church, and to me. Not about my myself — I will take responsibility for mistakes I make and sins I commit, but will not question my own motives for leading. And not about God — I refuse to accept that God will not bring good things out of my pain (and the pain of others), that God does not have better things in store for us than what we see now. I will not embrace the way of the cynic who is always looking for places to exploit people, searching out weaknesses in them so as to to expose them to humiliation, demanding that people be perfect and then ridiculing those who succumb to that demand and actually try to be. I won’t play that game and will willingly frustrate and disappoint all who try to make me.
I believe in the power of good leadership to build excellent, albeit imperfect, churches that can make the most of the God-given potential of their people. I believe the local church is the hope of the world, and therefore the hope of each of us individually. I believe in the everyday people who commit to build the local church with their time and money and energies and efforts. I believe in their resiliency, in their character, and in their will to be better, even in times when they are angry and hurting and doubtful of their leaders and aren’t so sure they’re all that into the growth thing. I will not give up on them, even in times when some of them may give up on me. And on themselves.
When church leaders are called and gifted to lead, and they do that job prayerfully and with skill and dedication and courage and wisdom and love, churches grow up under them and around them that flourish. The result is lives, families, and communities that are changed for the better. I cannot imagine that a time would come, despite the hardships of ministry, where I wouldn’t want a front row seat to that. The harder things get, the less I would think about giving up. Wildwind has come a long way, and I’ve always been in. We have a long way to go, and things have not always been easy. I’m still in.
I’m still in.