This morning on my drive into work I got to thinking about a conversation with a local pastor that happened almost five years ago on the issue of leadership and missional living. Here is how it went:
Me: “Let me ask you a question. For the sake of the people at church, would you be willing to let go of your title as senior pastor if it meant they would discover the kingdom of God, live a missional and incarnational life in order for them to discover that Jesus is the Head of the church?”
Pastor: “Gibby, as long as this church exists and I’m here I will be the senior pastor. That’s what I’m called to be and paid to do…a senior pastor.”
I still find it to be a fascinating answer. It is a very telling answer and reveals the true nature of this man’s heart. You don’t just shake those words from the mind. See, I didn’t ask if he would be willing to leave the local church or give up shepherding the people. I wanted to see if he would give up his title and if he was willing to let Jesus Christ have the title of Senior Pastor.
Titles. In the local church they can be very deadly, blinding and corrupting when they seep into the heads and hearts of those not willing to humble themselves to be servants first.
We can argue all day about biblical titles, positions and authority. Still, the example of Jesus was one of a servant. He squatted down to the level of the adulterous woman showing he was willing to be stoned with and for her. He risked his reputation by taking water from the woman at the well and shared with her the truth of worshiping God. He challenged the status quo of religious authority by welcoming the children to sit on his lap. He washed the feet of his disciples. He ate with sinners. He was human. He took the sting of death on rugged cross and rose for the sake of the kingdom. He released his Spirit into the world that we might allow him to dwell in us. He calls us to humble ourselves by loving our enemies.
This, my friends, is an issue of the heart. Are you willing to give up your title for the sake of the kingdom of God?