Leadership vs. Ownership

BIGmeditation-on-mount-sinai-mosesEvery morning when I come to my office I have a simple prayer that I begin the day with:

“Lord, this is  not my church. This is your church. I do not own this church and in the ultimate sense, I am not responsible for this church because this is your church. My desire this morning is to be a faithful minister and tool for you to use in the work of redemption here in this place.”

The roots of this prayer in one of my favorite stories from the life of Moses. In Exodus 32 Moses is on Mount Sinai meeting with the Lord as the Israelites participate in an idolatrous orgy in the valley below. Verse seven records the beginning of God’s conversation with Moses about the Israelites’ sin,

“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.’”

Now, if there’s one thing that painfully obvious from the Exodus account it’s that Moses did not bring these people out of Egypt, God did. You can almost see the shocked expression on Moses face when God refers to them as Moses’ people who Moses’ brought out of Egypt. So he responds, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?” It’s like he’s saying, “These aren’t my people! These are your people who you brought out of Egypt!”

I think this is a great illustration of the principle of leadership and ownership. Moses was certainly a leader amongst his people and a very powerful leader at that, but the secret to the strength of his leadership was the fact that he did not take ownership of the people. He recognized that the people belonged to God and that he was simply there to be a tool for God to use in ministering to His people.

Church leaders tend to get in trouble when they take ownership of the ministries or the people who they are supposed to be leading and serving. All of a sudden every decision becomes personal, every criticism is an attack, and every minor obstacle is a boulder that requires dynamite to remove. On the other hand church leaders who don’t take ownership, but who leave the ministries and the people entrusted to them in God’s hands have a remarkably calm and quiet spirit. They can leave critics and obstacles in God’s hands, because it’s His responsibility anyway, since they’re just there to serve. Those are the kinds of leaders that God will bless and those are the kinds of leaders that the church needs, those who take leadership and not ownership of the ministries they’re involved in.

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February 28 2011 05:00 am | Devotional

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