MY PICTURE SM Life and Leadership


James C. Guy

It's amazing how much toys, like many other things, have changed. Originally, toy cars were little more than blocks of wood with wheels that you pushed or pulled with a string. They went where you pulled them, but had no power. Later, motors and batteries were added that allowed them to go by themselves, but only in a straight line. When it hit a wall, it would just spin and grind until the batteries ran down, the motor burned up, or someone moved it to go in another pointless direction. Soon, "bump-and-go" technology allowed the toy car to reverse direction when it hit a wall. Of course, it would just turn and hit another wall with no real sense of direction. It was never content to sit still, but never went where it needed to go. Problem was, they just keep changing directions and never seem to get anywhere. In fact, it often ended up in the same directions over and over again.

Then, radio controlled cars came along. Now, the car had the ability to be steered where it needed to go. If you drive one too fast at first, it may be too difficult to control. It does make for some interesting experiences though. Eventually, you can drive them much faster and do more tricks with it because you, as the driver, have become more skilled in directing it. Churches and leaders are often like the toy cars.

There are the wooden cars churches that are pulled in every direction, going wherever the one holding the string may pull us. Like children, we may fight over who gets to pull the string in the direction WE want it to go. Leaders are more often being led by politics and personalities than by the Savior. Rather than leading where Christ leads, they follow where dominant personalities in the church lead. We end up being led around aimlessly, like "children tossed to and fro" (Ephesians 4:14); getting nowhere and accomplishing nothing.

Others are like the battery-operated cars that only go one direction. Once that direction is set, there is no deviating from it. There are no changes to be made. We may find the direction we have been going in the first place is not the direction we need to be going. But, we are so hard headed we refuse to change. We believe our direction is the right direction and there is no changing it. We call OUR direction, God's direction. But, is it (Matthew 15:9)? When obstacles stand in the way, we simply sit and spin until we wear out or someone reluctantly sets us in another rigid direction that will only lead to another dead-end obstacle. There is no way to steer around them or to get where we need to be going. Leadership steps in only when necessary to keep the "all-important" church contribution and attendance from dying. But, eventually - it will.

Then, there is the "bump-and-go" church. When an obstacle is met, rather than move it or drive around it, we simply change directions and head somewhere else. Though we will not stay stuck in one place for very long, neither are we headed anywhere in particular. We may be active and constantly moving, but where are we going? There is no sense of direction and purpose, only pointless activity. We are like "sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). Leaders are involved only to "give permission" to whatever people want to do. Politics have a higher priority than purpose. Leaders attempt to keep members happy rather than on track.

Then there are the driver-controlled churches. They are cool, exciting, fun, can do new tricks, and go over and around things. They can be steered in any direction including reverse when needed. They also have the ability to go straight and head in a determined direction, but to change when needed. They have the ability to do all of this, but must have a driver. Like the radio-controlled cars, Christ's church has the ability to do what it needs to do, and go where it needs to go. If our congregation is stagnant, dying, or has no sense of direction and purpose, it is because the leaders are not steering the church in the direction Jesus wants it to go. We may be driven by programs and activities, traditions, or not at all. We may be sitting and spinning our wheels because we refuse to change, or change so often that we don't know where we are going.

To change that, we must realize that God is the power, and He works though us (Ephesians 3:20). He has put in the body of Christ, all the talents and abilities needed to do His work in the church (I Corinthians 12:4-12ff.). He has placed leaders with the responsibility of "equipping" the saints to do His work as they participate in it (Ephesians 4:11-12). Godly churches cannot be one-man shows, or driven by select people. For the church to grow and go where it needs to go, Jesus must determine the direction (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18), and leaders must be willing to be both flexible and firm in order to steer the church where God wants it to go. We must stay on course, but be willing to change direction when needed. We must be able to separate where we are going from how we will get there to distinguish between the rigid message and flexible methods. And, we must all do it together, unified in the purposes of God. Who drives your church? Who drives your life? What direction are you headed? How will you get there?

2005 Copyright James C. Guy All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce in church bulletins, for Bible class purposes, and other similar non-profit purposes.

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