In Frank Baum’s famous story, The Wizard of Oz, is a lion whose behavior is far removed from his rank as “King of the Jungle”. He is a pathetic, sniveling coward afraid to lead and to confront the threats that surround him and his traveling companions. Near the end of the story, he finally rises to the challenge and demonstrates courage for the very first time, which brings a positive transformation to his personality and respect from the others.
Too often in the Body of Christ, we have leaders with a position of authority who are afraid to address the very real problems in the lives of those they oversee. Too often, the leader shies away with a promise to pray over the troublesome situation, while apparently waiting for it to go away or for someone else to deal with it.
(Granted, there are also tyrants in leadership, but that problem is not my topic today.)
The call to leadership is a call to take responsibility, to take action.
Confusion exists over “not judging”, or “not controlling”, or “not crossing boundaries”. It is time for Cowardly Lions to take courage, to stand up and risk the displeasure of those directly affected or of onlookers.
Where legal criminality is not a factor, believers are called to settle disputes among other fellow believers internally. Civil authority is authorized and obligated by our government to deal with lawbreakers. Likewise leaders in the Church are authorized and obligated by the Word of God to deal with problems that develop in the family, community, and ministry. How is it now that some leaders consider it to be “none of their business”?
When a church member doesn’t treat his employees well or cheats his brothers, should that not be addressed? When an adult neglects caring for his elderly parent, should that be simply left to “we’ll pray about it”?
True leaders have to deal with the tough issues no one wants to clean up. Reconciliation is hard work.
President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here!”
If you want to be a godly leader, you will have to deal with your own desires to be liked and appreciated and to keep peace at any cost. Otherwise, you contribute to a festering problem that can contaminate the ministry’s effectiveness and perpetrate the wounding. Every leader must at some point choose between doing what makes people happy and what is right. An offended or wronged person’s only hope of recourse by human means may be you, Christian leader. God usually chooses a Moses or a Nathan to bring deliverance to painful and difficult situations.
Yes, it is true that people may not like it when you address their sins and shortcomings. And yes, confrontation needs to be done with compassion, wisdom, and in a timely manner.
Leaders, do the hard thing. Love your people enough to get involved to bring justice.
“Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.” ~ Col 4:1
When A Leader Fails You
The Word instructs us to take our grievance directly to the pertinent individual and if that does not succeed, to bring along an ally in hopes of reconciliation. What if the chosen ally was an elder or pastor who refused to get involved? What recourse does the wronged believer have to bring resolution?
For every authority on the earth, there is a higher authority. In our court systems, if you don’t like the decision the judge renders, you may have the right to appeal to a higher court.
Thank God there is a Heavenly Court of Appeals! Knowing that the heart of Father is reconciliation, we can be reassured that He will hear our case as we come in faith while extending and receiving forgiveness where needed. Draw hope and faith from His Word.
“…God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” ~ 2 Cor 5:18
Leaders, those we minister to are looking for courageous men and women worthy of respect. I urge every leader to prayerfully consider how to best eradicate any trace of personal cowardice with wisdom and compassion. The Lord Jesus is our example.
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” ~ 1 Cor 16:13-14
Thank you for accepting the call to courageous leadership!