One frustration of being a servant leader in Christ’s church is knowing if you are doing what you should be doing every day. Yes, you have most likely been given a job description—which no one looks at until they are building a case to oust you—but, you want your efforts and sleepless nights to count for something more significant than taking care of those who show up and not making mad those who give.
I’m teaching from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians this term for B. H. Carroll Theological Institute. In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul identifies gifted leaders in the church (v. 11) and then what should be the results of their leadership. (v. 12)
Christ gave these leaders to the church: (v. 11)
- Apostles, sent ones on mission with Christ, (Acts 2:42, 43)
- Prophets, proclaimers of the Word of God, (Acts 13:1; 1 Cor. 14)
- Evangelists, tellers of the Good News, (Acts 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5)
- Shepherds, caretakers and feeders of the flock, (1 Peter 5:1, 2) and
- Teachers, those who aid others to “learn Christ.” (Acts 13:1; See Eph. 4:20 for that phrase.)
A couple of initial thoughts.
One, leadership is plural in the church. No one person has all the gifting and talent to do all of these jobs. Multiple spiritually gifted servant leaders are God’s design for the church. (Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 2nd ed., is on the right track.)
Second, these are not “offices” or “positions” on an org chart to be filled by a nominating committee. This is a list of people who are servants of Christ gifted and guided by the Holy Spirit to serve those God has put in their care.
These titles are more functions that serve the mission than they are positions for someone to “hold.”
But what are these gifted leaders to do?
Paul wrote that Christ gave these leaders to the church with three goals in mind, identified by three prepositional phrases. (v. 12) These servant leaders exist:
- For the “equipped status” of the members,
- For ministry, or, “work,” of service, and
- For building up the body of Christ.
Biblical servant leaders produce other servant leaders who serve and build up the church. These three ends are to be the result of your leadership, the goals you work for each day, and should be the basis for the evaluation of your effectiveness as a servant leader in the church. Multiple, gifted leaders serve out of their giftedness to produce these results in those in their care and circles of influence.
I wrote elsewhere when talking about the purpose of our church staff, “God gifts the church with leaders not to do ministry alone but to equip members of the body to do ministry. The ministry of the staff is to equip others.” (Jesus on Leadership, Tyndale, 187)
Equipped members prepared to take on a “work of service” that result in building up the church as the living body of Christ is the “why” for what you do each day.
These three results are clear, but they are not easy. Think Iowa farming, not New York day trading as the environment to carry out your service and to get these results.
Here are some questions for you:
- Do your daily efforts produce “equipped” members who can perform appropriately in ministry and whose contribution builds up the church body?
- What are you doing every day that does NOT contribute to these results?
- Who are the other gifted servant leaders with whom you work to get these results?
- Do you see your leadership more as a function that serves the Mission of God or a position that serves the wishes of your members?