John 2: 23-25 (MsgB)
During the time He (Jesus) was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many people noticed the signs He was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to Him. But Jesus didn’t entrust His life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them.
So here’s an interesting thought I have about ‘leadership’ vs. ‘followership’. As I see it, our world is made up of both leaders and followers. And throughout our lifetime, there are many moments we are called upon to oversee (or lead) and many more moments when you and I are called to follow. In truth, only a life lived outside of fellowship with others is one that has no need for either ‘leadership’ or ‘followership’. But since most of us spend 99% of our lives in relationship with other human beings, we find ourselves at varying times having to oversee others and at other times when we need to follow.
Life truly gets out of balance when one of us has an extraordinary ambition of drive to ‘lead’ others all of the time or when one of us feels so lowly about our personal life we see ourselves as only being a follower. Balance in life comes when I exert my will to be both an overseer at times, where others can hopefully benefit from my service toward others; and a follower, where my ability to follow others gives joy to both the overseer and me, the follower.
So when I follow another person, I’m basically entrusting that person to oversee and manage well. Entrusting my life to someone else is, quite actually, a scary thing. Placing myself in the passenger seat of another driver’s car can be a risky endeavor. So it is with Jesus. John’s Gospel here states that Jesus knew people around Him well enough not to ‘entrust’ His life into their hands. John’s words here are basically implying that Jesus chose to ‘entrust’ everything He had in life to God, the Father, while choosing to withhold an entrusting relationship with lesser human beings.
These insights into where Jesus entrusted His life should give us pause as we think about what we as church overseers are actually asking of the people who hang around our ministries. In truth, even on our best days, we human managers are not all that consistent with how we handle the trust people give us. Unfortunately many, many parishioners have been burned badly when they’ve ‘entrusted’ their lives into the hands of church ‘leaders’ who simply couldn’t be as trustworthy as one had hoped for.
As I see it, the New Testament isn’t asking us as church elders or overseers to serve as men and women to whom people entrust their lives. To be quite honest, that’s like placing your life savings in a cardboard box, leaving it on your front porch, and hoping no one will ever steal it. No. The New Testament writers seem to indicate to me that God, the Father, through Jesus, the Son, empowered by the Holy Spirit, are the only Ones worthy of entrusting our lives to. We, the clergy, certainly have our place in overseeing and shepherding the ministry God gives us, but quite honestly, only to the degree that ultimately points people to Jesus as being the only One in which people should entrust their lives! In other words, we in the ministry are not the bankers who keep the money; we only work at the bank and point people to the strong safety box in the center of the room named Jesus. It’s there, and only there, a person will find a true source of life that can be entrusted to never fail, never rust, never stumble, or never fade away.
My prayer: Lord Jesus, as a ‘follower’ show me where I’ve mistakenly entrusted my life into human hands to such a degree that I’m not entrusting my life to You. And as an overseer, reveal to me where I might be mistakenly asking people to entrust their lives to me or to the ministry I represent. At the end of the day, may we all find ourselves looking to You, alone, as the One where we can entrust our all and all both today and forever. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: As a pastor-teacher-steward of ministry, how might I be illegally asking others to entrust their lives into my hands or into the hands of the ministry I oversee? In what ways can I shepherd the work God has given me, but always be certain that I’m pointing to Jesus as the one who is totally trustworthy of all trust?
So what is God speaking to you today as we follow Jesus the Nazarene, the Leader of the Church?
Between now and the end of 2015, we will be sharing with you a blog series we first developed in 2013. We call it Follow The Leader: Re-defining Successful Leadership from the Gospel of John. In order to keep all 46 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Follow The Leader home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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