In the book of Ephesians it says that one of the roles of leadership in the church is to prepare the church in general for the work of the ministry.
11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
That's a lot of responsibility and many leaders work hard at trying to help the body become mature and to be prepared for all types of service. One of the things we don't often get prepared for is what to do when leadership falls. We might get "prepared" for what to do if a leader "falls" or there is hypocrisy in another church, but what about when it is in your own?
Earlier in Ephesians these church leaders are described as gifts to men. And in Corinthians it says:
1 Corinthians 3:21b-23
All things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
The concept of leaders being gifts and belonging to God's people indicates that there is an accountability on our part when it comes to how we treat and view leaders. This accountability extends to all things as noted in Corinthians, but for now I'm going to focus on how it extends to leadership. Often we are taught a church concept that has the leaders as "shepherds" and the church members as "sheep." The problem with this picture is that we often give it a very simplistic interpretation. Sheep are supposed to follow, to go where they are told. But the sheep of God's pasture are men. And when men have a simplistic "follow" mentality for a while then find out the one they followed (and were corrected by) is wrong or has broken his own rules there is usually resentment, anger, and division.
So let's try a different approach. The sheep of God's pasture are men. All of us are called by God and graced to be in his pasture. Each of us is graced to be effective in doing works of service so that the body may be built up. We are not given this grace because we earn it, it is a gift. And some of the men in this pasture are graced to be leaders, to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Not because they earned it. Rather because they were chosen to live a life of service to God's people to help them live a life of service that the entire body (leaders and everyone, everyone in God's pasture) may become mature in Christ.
There is an accountability here that works both ways. Leaders must give an account of their service and the results of that service. We must also give an account of our service and our results as well. And we all must give an account of our service (and results) to each other. To pray for each other, to hold each other in higher esteem than ourselves, to forgive each other, to love each other, and as a result to bring the body of Christ to maturity. If we get our foundation right there will be more of this type of behavior and less resentment, anger, and division when problems occur.
It is important that everyone in God's pasture understand what God is doing at any given time and understand the types of service they are accountable for at that time. One of the things my apostle has always done is teach everyone in our church that each of us can be exactly what he is; can do the same types of ministry, can touch people the same way, can serve God the same way. He does not want us to act or live like "dumb sheep." It is important for everyone to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. So the next few posts will include some examples of different ways God works with leaders, including when they "fall", so we can increase our understanding, our knowledge, and hopefully our wisdom.