So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2
This should be very meaningful to church leaders. We are described as those entrusted with the secret things of God. The picture Paul uses here is that of a manager or steward.
In the Greek it’s a compound word, house-distributor. God has given us a trust, not only to receive deep things from the Lord, but also to distribute them.
This steward was the hired hand who oversaw the whole household operation in the master’s stead. He was the one responsible for its smooth efficiency. Again, if I’m going to fulfill this part of my role as a leader, I’m going to need to look to Christ as my model for the ministry.
Even after you’ve done all of this to the best of your ability, the Scripture says that there’s still one more thing that is required – faithfulness. You must be faith-ful. That means that someone can put his or her faith in you.
We always talk about having faith in the Lord. Rightly so – there’s no other person in the universe more worthy than He is to receive our faith. The problem is that we’re called to be just like Him. We are to be people who are faithful in the same way that He is faithful.
I’ve found that faithfulness in the ministry is hard to come by these days. Please realize I’m not talking about faithful works, but faithfulness to the call that has been placed before us.
It seems that many pastors and leaders have bought into the myth that’s being fostered in corporate America. They’re constantly updating their resume. That way they’re able to jump ship at the first sign of trouble or whenever a “better opportunity” arises.
We, as God’s people, have got to come back to the realization that success in ministry is not climbing a ladder; it’s following the clear call and leading of Christ.
For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
I Corinthians 4:9
More and more I’m beginning to understand what Paul was writing about here. He’s not griping about the problems he’s facing in the ministry. On the contrary, he’s becoming aware of a fact that everyone in ministry must face.
He says that he feels like a man doomed to die in the arena. He’s just like a professional fighter who knows that he’ll always fight until the day his life will end.
If you’re going to be an effective leader, you’ll have to come to grips with the fact that you’ve made it past the point of no return. You need to know within yourself that there’s no going back. This calling is for good – there’s no safety net – you are going to “die in the arena” of ministry.
Question: Why is there such a temptation to quit the ministry when things get tough?
© Nick Zaccardi 2014