When we put leaders on pedestals, like as though they’ve arrived, we’ll likely find ourselves disappointed when they fail to live up to those expectations perhaps even disillusioned and ready to quit the church. What we tend to forget is that leaders, like us, are human beings. We’re all in process.
Leaders can deceive themselves into believing they’ve arrived which makes them feel superior to others, leading to pride. That puts them in a vulnerable position as “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). What they tend to forget is that just like everybody else, they too are in process.
The Apostle Paul, perhaps one of the greatest church leaders to live, said,
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:12-14)
What Leaders Mustn’t Do If They’re Going to Stay in Process
From Philippians 3:12-14, we can learn as much from what Paul did not do as from what he did do. He …
did not think too highly of himself. (“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect”, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it”)
did not rest on past accomplishments. (“forgetting what is behind”)
did not coast through his leadership efforts. (“I press on”, “straining toward”)
did not function with a narrow perspective. (“press on toward the goal”)
Leaders Must Continue Training and Growing to Stay in Process
The Apostle Paul acknowledged that he had so much more to learn and grow for he didn’t use a mere human or worldly standard of leadership. Rather, he said he wanted to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”. That’s a standard of Christlikeness to which we will never attain but we can keep growing and advancing toward it.
Elsewhere Paul referred to the Christian life as a race. He said, “Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. ” (1 Cor. 9:24). Strict training is intentional and continual. Runners can’t stop training, thinking they’ve arrived, and expect to win. Perhaps Paul had this in mind when he said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). That’s a goal with an eternal prize which we won’t fully realize until eternity. It’s therefore a goal that requires perseverance (Heb. 12:1), “straining toward what is ahead” (Phil. 3:13).
Are you a church or ministry leader who realizes that you have not yet arrived? Check out the site, TrainChurchLeaders.com, developed by Ministry Tools Resource Center, for church leaders wanting to stay in process.