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Home The Light Articles from 1999 Who Shall Lead My People?

Who Shall Lead My People?

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Who Shall Lead My People?

by Jim Johnson

The time comes when the torch of leadership must be passed to the next generation. We often view this transition with much trepidation and concern...will the next generation be strong or weak? Will they be knowledgeable or ignorant of God's Word? Will they be content with a "thus saith the Lord" or will they yield to man's interpretations and cave in to societal pressures? We as parents and grandparents play a major role in formulating the answers to these questions.

It is understood that not everyone will have the make up to be a preacher or elder or a preacher's wife. However, we are all leaders in our own right. It may be that our aspirations are just not set in the right places.

If we cannot be a preacher or elder, etc., what are some areas in which we can help the church? She desperately needs knowledgeable teachers; spiritually dedicated fathers and mothers; those concerned with the purity of the church; mothers content to teach their children of God and individuals who are genuinely concerned about the souls of all men. If we will set our minds and dedicate ourselves to grow in these areas, I think we will be surprised at the spiritual strength we can develop. We know for certain the church will be better because of our efforts.

James had a concern for those who would be anxious to have the "power" or "prestige" that may come with leadership and oversight (ch. 3:1). These are in no wise ready or qualified to lead the flock of God. They are full of pride and possess a desire to have the preeminence, which was the downfall of Diotrophes (3 John 9). Solomon clearly states that such are bound for a fall (Prov. 16:18).

God has never desired the leaders of His people to be proud or think too highly of themselves. The moment a leader begins to think he is "somebody" and feels he is self-sufficient, the flock is in danger. Jeremiah spoke a curse against the man who would make flesh his arm and forget his God (ch.17:5). We are all dependent upon God, regardless of our station in life and must never be too proud to admit it. How pleased He must have been to hear the humble words of Solomon as he set about to lead His people (1 Kings 3:5-14). Solomon knew his limitations and was not ashamed to admit them before the Father. He understood that this task was impossible without God's help. It is common among men who find themselves in his shoes to bow their necks and clench their teeth and say, "I am qualified to do anything, and don't you dare tell me I can't." A better posture to assume would be, with Samuel of old, "Speak Lord, thy servant heareth." There is a place for tenacity and determination, but let us inquire of the Lord first and seek His guidance.

There are also those who choose not to bear the torch because of the responsibility that accompanies that role. On the one hand, it is easy to understand their plight, for it is indeed an awesome task. It takes true effort and dedication. On the other hand it is sad to see our brethren so caught up in the affairs and pleasures of life that they will not recog-nize and fulfill their place. Often it boils down to the simple fact—"we need to grow up!"

Sometimes we are a strange lot—can't wait to become a teenager so we can get a job and a driver's license, but we dread getting older because we will have to settle down, grow up, and start taking responsibility for our actions. Jeremiah said it was good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. In other words, it is good for him to learn to be responsible and mature. If we are in this group who needs to grow up, let's do it NOW! It will be appreciated by one and all—your wife, your children, your brethren and most of all, by God. Then you will be on the road to becoming the asset to the church that God intended you to be.

Then there are those who will let someone else lead and will never develop them-selves simply because they are afraid of failure, like Moses (Exo. 4). Many a man will never reach his potential as a pillar in the church because he was afraid he would make a mistake. We don't want to minimize the seriousness of being a leader, but folks, let's at least try! If you set your sights on developing leadership qualities, you do so knowing for certain you will make a mistake or two. But surely we had rather go to our graves knowing we gave it our best effort than to die with our music still in us, never having given God our heart and soul and strength.

Finally, there are those who will become strong pillars in the Lord's church because they give themselves to the Lord in everything they do. They gladly reach out to those who have blazed the trail and grip the torch as it passes from hand to hand. They enter into this role knowing their limitations, but realizing that, with God on their side, they can succeed (Phil.4:13). He knows that because he is mortal flesh and blood, he will experience his share of failures. His fellows will criticize him for his efforts and question his motives. But he also knows that if he will persevere till the end, he can, with Paul of old, look back over a life well spent (2 Tim. 4:7). That is reward enough for all the efforts put forth.

So, brother, where do you fit into this picture? To whom will our aged pass that torch? Will it be to you? —PO Box 98, Mullin, TX 76864



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