Monday, July 14, 2008

Leadership Moment

Saturday I heard on the radio a very disturbing message. It hurt my spirit to hear it. It made my heart ache.

The message was a very brief comment called “Leadership Moment” offered through a company called Equip. Since I was driving I only had the ability to stop momentarily to write down the URL for the Leadership Moment web site, and was not able to jot down a direct quote of what was presented. However, what was presented was a “Leadership Moment” reflection of the leadership demonstrated by St. Peter and the apostles in Acts 6.

The host of Leadership Moment, John Hull, gave a brief synopsis of the situation described in Acts 6, and proceeded to explain that the apostles realized that the situation would hurt the “momentum” of the Church’s growth unless action was taken.

This is a most disturbing statement.

The motives of the apostles were not based upon a concern for the “momentum” of the Church’s growth, but upon loving concern for the saints. Their concern is clearly recorded as concern for the Word of God and the ordained administration of the means of grace.

Luke records that the Lord was the leader of the Church and that all of the “leadership moments” were by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and NOT by the wisdom of the apostles or other men. The actions of the apostles and what they presented for the Church to do were based PURELY upon the right administration of the Word. They simply directed the people to follow what the Word declares, and the people responded in faith.

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:3-6)

This most certainly was not a decision to “keep the momentum going.”

Luke explains in verse 7: “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

The Word produced the increase as the Word increased among the disciples. This increase was the work of the Lord. The Holy Spirit made this happen. This was not on account of some clever leadership tactics on the part of the apostles. The apostles merely adhered to the office entrusted to them, the office of Christ, the office of the Gospel. They continued in the words of Christ, believing that the Word rules the Church and produces whatever God wills for the Church.

And God’s will was done. In this instance great increase in the numbers of disciples was what God sent His Word to accomplish.

But this is not always what is to be, as is addressed in this week’s sermon from Jeremiah 15.

The point that St. Luke records is that the Word is to be the only provider of leadership in the Church, and those who would be true leaders under God will not forget this. Those who turn the office of Christ, the office of the Word, into applications of human decision and human wisdom, misrepresent the Word and do injury to those who turn to them for leadership.

Rather, the Collect for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity sets our hearts to observe the truth and to trust in the One who works mighty signs and miracles for His Church.

Grant to us, Lord, we beseech Thee, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without Thee; may by Thee be enabled to live according to Thy will; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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