Solomon’s son, King Rehoboam, lost half his kingdom (ministry) because he had no idea of the true meaning of leadership. He was at a crossroads, and he chose the wrong direction. His friends defined leadership as punishing people and forcing them to do his will. Yet, the city elders knew the true core of leadership: “They said, ‘If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you'” (2 Chronicles 10.7 MSG).
Ministries are designed to provide for needs. As leaders, we are called to serve those around us. However, I think many of us get it wrong. Sometimes we serve to receive, we serve to grow our desires, we serve to be good enough, we serve to show others our works or we serve without the anointing of God. And we forget that serving becomes white-washed unless we are doing it out of a pure heart to do God’s will. God wants to cultivate a desire in us to serve the needs of others; however, this desire does not come easily.
Our walk of service starts with those closest to us: spouses, children, siblings, parents and friends. We do not serve because we have to; we serve because that is our calling. We place our family’s and friend’s needs above our own, and work diligently to be Christ-like figures in their lives. Our family is our primary ministry, and we should be serving them first. They know everything about us, and they are the main witnesses to God’s transforming power in our lives. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am not fulfilling my husband’s or children’s needs, I have absolutely no right to be in ministry.
Once we find joy and purpose in serving our family, God will lead us to a small circle of people that He wants us to pour into and serve. This is not glamorous, and some people want to ignore it. But this is an important part of our own transformation. While we serve these hand-chosen people, God is able to do a good work within us. The fruits of our labor may not be obvious, because the fruits are produced within us, building and strengthening our character and faith. Once God trusts us with leading our small group, He will begin to open doors for greater influence.
By now we are serving our families and others on a small scale, but our capacity (territory) is growing. God broadens our reach of influence now that we have strength to do more. However, this broadening may not look how we want it to look. We might be called to reach individuals, small groups or the masses; and they each have equal impact. The world’s standard of success is different than God’s, and we need to remember that He grows our ministries into the shape He has for it. We probably won’t know the extent of our influence for God’s kingdom until He shows us in heaven.
The critical aspect about having influence is that when we stumble, many people are affected. That is why during this entire process of learning leadership, God has been teaching us to rely solely on Him and to obediently serve Him. There is much Scripture on the accountability of leaders, and they shed light to the awesome responsibility of leadership:
“The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people:”It is you who have ruined my vineyard” (Isaiah 3.14a NIV).
“It’s because our leaders are stupid. They never asked God for counsel, And so nothing worked right. The people are scattered all over” (Jeremiah 10.21 MSG).
Leading others through serving their needs is an amazing opportunity with a high costs. We must allow God to change our hearts if we are to lead affectively and righteously. I believe God would love for all His children to be shining-star leaders in our world today; however, He will protect us from ourselves if we are not ready. We need to start with the basics and joyfully serve those we see everyday. Only then can God securely position us on the path to doing more service for His kingdom.
“If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap” (1 Timothy 3.1-7 MSG).