by Becky Ahlberg
Have you seen experts on TV analyzing people’s body language? It’s become quite an art. What did the use of hands, a raised eyebrow, or eye contact really communicate? It can get a little goofy, until you stop to realize that how we communicate is as important as what we communicate. What does your church family see when they watch you exercise leadership: compassion, concern, fairness, sacrifice, patience?
For many of us, leadership in the church has come to mean primarily decision making, risk taking, strategic planning, real estate deals, personnel issues, and church discipline—the guys in charge who call the shots. Too often, we’ve majored in overseeing, but minored in shepherding. We have communicated control instead of compassion. While competent authority is crucial, it can block out an important part of the task. A look at Scripture reveals that Jesus’ leadership was about relationships, sacrifice, and service. He healed the sick, he taught, he gave his time, he exhausted himself, and eventually gave his life for his flock. Usually he exercised his authority when he saw religious leaders abusing theirs.
Today’s passage, however, is filled with practical, day-to-day instruction about touching lives, not exercising authority—making time for the needy and disenfranchised, being diligent about being compassionate, and responsibly caring for others. Paul specifically talks about widows, older men, pure relationships, and personal and family responsibilities. But I think he was talking about more than our responsibilities. Leaders see and solve, teach and touch, listen and love. Recently I heard someone say that our job is to be the gospel in shoes. What we do, much more than what we say, makes us leaders. In Matthew 25, Jesus defined it as taking care of “the least of these.” He went so far as to say that how we treat others is a direct reflection of how we treat Jesus. As leaders, we set the example; we model the expectation. We need to remember that others are watching—including Jesus.
Becky Ahlberg is the Worship minister at Anaheim First Christian Church in Anaheim, California. She and her husband live in Fullerton, California with their children.