by Rev. Sean Lawrence
1 Thessalonians 2:4-7 & 4:9-12 Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts. For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives--God is our witness-- and we didn't seek glory from people, either from you or from others. Although we could have been a burden as Christ's apostles, instead we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother nurtures her own children.
About brotherly love: you don't need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. In fact, you are doing this toward all the brothers in the entire region of Macedonia. But we encourage you, brothers, to do so even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may walk properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone. (eSword HCSB © 2005)
Paul says that it is not leadership, but the church as a body, that is about God’s business. This defies the conventional model that tells us that leadership is the church and the rest are but laborers. It is the body that indeed defines the church, not a handful of managers. If it is a cult of personality, known only by its senior pastorate, then it is honoring self, not God. That would make such a model [potentially] a pagan worship center with a false god at its helm. Avoid this. Do not be tempted.
One concept of the new church model is the upside-down pyramid with the base (now the top) being made up of the body. Another approach would be the hub and spoke model where leaders are at the center and the body radiates out like spokes. Either way, the burden of the church is born by the body, where the real strength is, not by a handful of designated leadership types. Our strength is in God, not men.
Primary mission: pleasing God, not men, as Christ’s disciples.
Paul speaks to the activities, and the examples of the body, more than he ever discusses leadership. There is a good reason for that. Leadership in the Christ-like model serves and does not glorify itself above the body. Christ pointed to God, not to Himself. We would do well to remember that deliberate focus.
Yes, leadership has the distinct duty to direct and facilitate, and has a specific calling to help mobilize; but they are also held accountable for that calling. Such a calling is not for everyone, but everyone has a specific calling.
Paul suggests: love one another, be gentle, strive to please God not men, do not be greedy, lead a quiet life, tend to your own business, work with your hands, walk the walk, and do not be a burden to others.
Rev. Sean Lawrence is a credentialed minister with Loving God Fellowship
. He ministers and resides in Middletown, Ohio, with his wife Rebecca.