Why did I add “Ouch!” to the title of this post? Referring to yourself or anyone else in the Body of Christ as “just a lay person” is a hurtful comment.
- If the lay person is making the statement, it betrays a sense of inferiority regarding the view of one’s self in the Body.
- If the clergy is making the statement, it emits a sense of superiority regarding the view of one’s self in the Body.
At the Root of a Lay Person Complex:
To make such a statement from either point of view suggests that lay people are inferior to the clergy or paid professionals in your midst. The flow chart would depict a hierarchical structure in doing ministry with the clergy at the top not just in terms of decision-making but also worth or importance.
Question: How does this fit into the priesthood of all believers? See 1 Peter 2:9.
In addition, it could suggest that some gifts are viewed as more important than others. Certainly someone with the gift of service or helps, it could be argued, is not as critical as a person with the gift of pastor or leadership.
Question: How does that reconcile with God’s teaching on the Body and spiritual gifts that all are needed and all are important? See 1 Corinthians 12:14-26.
Why a Lay Person Complex Hurts:
- When people have such a view of themselves, not seeing their contribution as important as someone else’s, it is much easier not to get involved. Ouch!
- When the Body misses out on the contribution of certain members, it stunts growth. Ouch! Remember, the Body “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16).
- When clergy or other church leaders view themselves as superior to others in the Body, pride can set in which can lead to a fall (Prov. 16:18). Ouch!
- When pride sets in to any member of the Body, an attitude of self-reliance can develop with the feeling that they don’t need others. Ouch! Not only is that a lonely place to be but it also goes against God’s design for the Body to be interdependent (1 Cor. 12:20-26).
- When people in certain positions of ministry are elevated higher than others, discontent can surface within people as they wish they could serve like someone else instead of being the person God designed them to be. Ouch! Isn’t that a slap on the face for God who “arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Cor. 12:18)?
- When at the top of a hierarchy it can be so easy to develop control issues which can lead to spiritual abuse. Ouch! Jesus, however, said “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Mk. 10:42-43).
- When spiritual gifts are ranked in order of importance, a need to compare and compete can set in. Ouch! This kind of approach to spiritual gifting only divides the Body, something God expressly wants the Body to avoid (1 Cor. 12:25).