Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Herding Cats

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
We ask you too, my brothers, to get to know those who work so hard among you.  They are your spiritual leaders to keep you on the right path.  Because of this high task of theirs, hold them in highest honour. 
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13a (©JB Phillips New Testament)
Today’s Scripture passage is a little difficult exceedingly difficult!  Oh, it’s not that hard to understand; the text is purely straightforward – a child could figure out that respect for a leader, especially a spiritual leader, is a responsibility with a good reason.
This is difficult because some leaders don’t seem worthy of respect.  It’s doubly difficult for me to speak/write about this because, as a leader, I am subject to what God says about spiritual leadership. 
We have seen examples of leadership trust violated by the truckload in business, religious organizations, politics and just about every walk of life; leaders can fall! 
So why should we respect them?
Primarily we respect leaders because of the office, not the person. 
The political arena is a grand example.  Our nation has a president who was elected twice – not everybody respects him, but the office of President of the United States demands that we give him respect. 
And, according to Paul in this text, we should also try to “get to know” (understand) him because he has an exceedingly difficult job being the leader of 300+ million people, where half of the people agree with him and the other half want to burn him at the stake.  Without respect and restraint there will be nothing the leader can do to effectively discharge his duty.  In this case the whole nation suffers when the President is disrespected.
In church, home, or business life it is no different.  Leadership is a difficult and risky business.  A lawyer friend of mine was in charge of 40 government lawyers in Tallahassee, Florida.  I asked her what it was like to lead that many lawyers.  She told me it was like “herding cats”. 
I feel her pain.  The church can be like that, with conflicting ideas on how things ought to be done, and time demands, and personality clashes, and, and, and…..
This is why Paul spoke so strongly about trying very hard to get along, and keeping respect and perspective toward leaders.  The church and its mission are too important for us to get bogged-down in turf battles and attitude snits.
Honestly, I’ve been on the other side; I’ve been a church member who had a hard time respecting a leader to whom I owed respect.  It isn’t easy to be obedient when you may feel strongly, or even just suspect that the leader isn’t qualified – spiritually, morally, educationally…or doesn’t have the right motive.
But in the long run, my thoughts and suspicions and evaluations are only that – MY thoughts and suspicions –Scripture is our authority, and Scripture is abundantly clear at this point; give leaders respect, and let God handle how leadership is set up or taken down.
For you, today
Having a hard time with a leader in your church, home, business, or government?
Respect that leader as if (s)he is created in the image of God.  {Uh-huh!).

Respect that leader by praying for her or him.  There’s no better ally than Almighty God when it comes to helping a leader get on the ball.

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