God, in his rich mercy and grace, is the one that rescued you from the bondage of slavery, abuse, and death. You have been reconciled and saved by God’s love in giving his Son. Not only have you been redeemed from death and resurrected to life! The Spirit of God now dwells within you as a seal and as the power to be who you were meant to be, a beloved son or daughter of God. He has now sent you to serve, care for, and oversee his people. Therefore…
1. You Shall Not Have Other Gods (Yourself or Others)
You can lighten the blow by calling it “celebrity leadership”; however, it is competing Gods. We elevate other leaders, teachers, and ourselves to the position of God. We can do no wrong, we have all the power, and we believe we can control everything. We have other gods, ourselves.
2. You Shall Not Make Idols of the Things We Lead
The churches and organizations we lead are not worthy of our worship. They do not give us life, redemption, or hope. As idols, they steal our hope, life, and joy. They are the created by God; they are not God. When we obey this command we are free to follow Jesus and love his people.
3. You Shall Not Use God’s Name to Manipulate People&Situations
If God tells you things, that’s great. If you have a hunch, desire, or if you’ve thought carefully about an issue and think you know what’s best, say that. Don’t put words in God’s mouth. Don’t invoke the Spirit, or “God told me…” to manipulate others. His name and his words are holy.
4. You Shall Keep the Sabbath and Make it Holy
God took a day in the week of creation to stop creating, to look and see what he had made. We too, ought to take a day each week to stop, look, and see all that God has done. This is holy. If we cannot take a day apart from ministry and leadership, we are likely breaking one or all of the first three commands.
5. Honor Your Fathers of the Faith
You stand on the shoulders of past leaders. You spiritual life and leadership was born out of the gifts and investment of past generations. Honor them and you will have a long ministry of leadership. Many leaders elevate themselves by complaining and bashing the leaders that came before us. Don’t critique them like a Monday morning quarterback. Don’t relieve your insecurities by dragging out their faults, mistakes, and shortcomings. Be gracious to your fathers in leadership. Honor them as the people God chose to give you for your good and his glory. Honor them as humans given a moment to lead. Honor their failures by claiming God’s grace, justice, and forgiveness.
6. You Shall Murder; We Shall Protect Them
Obviously, we shouldn’t kill people. In fact, we are called to be the leaders who bring others to the living water, to the source of healing, and to the satisfying message of Jesus. We are to protect them from anything that might distract or malign their understanding of that message. This includes us. We are to guard against making ourselves substitute saviors, substitute judges, and the source of inspiration. Protect your people from this death.
7. Not Cheat On Your Church
Adultery is simultaneously taking something that wasn’t provided to you while rejecting the thing that was provided to you. Often, we reject the situations, circumstances, and people we’ve been given to enjoy and equip while simultaneously indulging the courtship of other situations, circumstances, and people God didn’t give us. Lead and love the people God has given you. Love them without wavering and love them only. When you go to serve and help other churches do so for love of your church.
8. You Shall Not Steal, Taking What Isn’t Yours
In a role within community and churches, we struggle to notice any noticeable
9. Shall Not Exaggerate And Lie Your Way into Influence
Few roles of leadership allow for exaggerations or lies quite like the spiritual leader. We can add numbers, we can add clever lines, we can alter stories. We do it to make ourselves more important, more effective, more influential. However, thou shall not lie. The truth is more powerful. The gospel of Jesus is more than enough.
10. Not Covet Our Neighbors’ Leaders; Loving Them Instead of Our People
I’ve often found myself in deep lust while visiting other churches or clusters of missional communities. Lust for their leaders. I meet amazing people doing amazing things and think: “If only I had them in my church.” These leaders “get it”, they are talented, they have a vibrant relationship with God, and pure leadership skills. Imagine what I could do with them. I want them to be mine. Why? Because I view our leaders as cogs in my machine. I see them as citizens and servants of my kingdom. They are players on my team. Therefore, the best way to improve the whole is to improve the parts, or replace the parts.
I also look at my own leaders and notice their defects. This one doesn’t lead good discussions. That one doesn’t have charisma. This one is too busy. That one has too many idols. This one has far too many wounds to deal with. Again, I believe they are cogs in my machine.
Joy of Irrelevant Leadership
My grandfather, a pastor and missionary who helped plant countless churches in souther Texas and Latin America, offers this advice to anyone who pastors: “Love the people and don’t do anything stupid.” The stupid thing we often do is forget who we are and who we are serving. We forget we are meager men and women, given to the church to serve and love Jesus’ church. The joy of leadership is the opportunity to love others and love God; patiently trusting him to accomplish his purposes.
Eugene Peterson correctly observes about the vocation of spiritual leadership: “The first thing we ought to do is accept our irrelevance.” Instead of a driving ambition to be noticed and important, our role is actually to serve. We notice what God is doing, we point people toward’s God’s working, and we help people become aware of God’s presence. While this isn’t flashy, I think this is the key to seeing our sacrifice as gospel joy.