It is always fun to be smacked in the face with my bible reading. To be gently - or not so gently - reminded about how seriously God takes leadership always makes me stop and think, especially when I'm reminded just before I have a planning meeting of some sort or prepare to teach a bible study. You dear readers, have been along with me for lots of "smacks", even though it appears sometimes that I'm presenting the topics to you. :) Please remember that before I write, I've already been challenged myself. So...you say, what now? Let's look at James 3:1 in a few different translations:
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (KJV)
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (NIV)
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. (NKJV)
Don't be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. (MSG)
Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. (ASV)
Well, now that I've scared you all away from any kind of leadership, I should probably just sign off. Just kidding. The bottom line here is that the greater our influence over others, the greater responsiblity we have. (Matthew 5:19, Luke 12:48, Romans 14:10-12) Because of our greater influence, we must hold ourselves to higher standards because people are watching us. So, what can we do to help ourselves?
1) Remember who you serve (Galatians 1:10). We are here to please God and not our best friends, our spouses, or our fellow church members. Do the right thing because it is right not because it is popular, remembering that you will never please everyone.
2) Keep your "cup" filled to overflowing. As a leader, 15-30 minutes of quiet time per day with God just won't cut it for the long haul. If that is really all you can get, it will have to do because that is definitely better than nothing. However, we can only give out what we have taken in. We must abide in the "vine" of Jesus lest we lose our strength. (John 15:4-6)
3) Pray, Pray, Pray. Perhaps the most neglected part of our spiritual walk is the most powerful weapon we have against failing as leaders. We should never cease to ask for wisdom and guidance in our endeavors (James 1:5). Prayer keeps us humble because by praying we openly depend on God for our successes.
These are just a few thoughts to keep us strong as leaders. There are so many truths, it is hard to boil them down to a few to put in a blog space. My prayer is that we will all grow stronger in the grace and knowledge of God and that we will be all that He wants us to be. And one more thing...the next time you hold your church leader to a higher standard, give them a little grace, and remember that people are looking at you too. Just a thought.