Before I left for my trip to Thailand and Cambodia, I started a new teaching series on the church. At the beginning of the series, I was very clear that Jesus is the head of the church. It is not me. It is not some other pastor. It is not any other leader. The One who leads this church (and should lead every church) is Jesus Christ. He is the One with the authority.
After trying to establish His authority, I then continued to explain that the way Christ leads His church is through the delegation of that authority to a group of godly men who use His Word as their authority. Not one man, but a plurality of men. The Scriptures call them elders. In theory, each of these men are equal in authority. They have different gifts, which means they will have different functions in the body of Christ, but they are all equal. When one is gone, the others step in to cover the responsibilities.
As with anything, a belief only becomes real when it is put to the test. There are many churches or organizations that believe the authority should not be invested in one individual. But then they live as if the one man is irreplaceable. The real test of the belief is what happens when one of the key leaders are removed from that organization. This is where God's timing once again shows its perfection.
After preaching on this for three weeks, I left town for the next two weeks. I think this was good for me and the other leaders at CBC. This was a perfect opportunity for us to ask ourselves, "Do we really believe what we say?" I am pleased to state that the answer is overwhelmingly, YES! When I stepped out these past two weeks, the ministry does not come to a screeching halt. In fact, it increased.
I was grateful to learn that the elders stepped in to deal with many shepherding situations that needed to be dealt with. They did not need to wait till I returned. They were able to deal with them on their own. I was excited to see that our first real big men's retreat went off without a hitch. They did not need me to be there to have a successful event. They were more than capable to pull it off themselves. The Word of God was preached both Sundays. Sunday schools continued as usual. The bulletins were still put out. Prayers and emails were still spread. Ministry still happened.
I am glad the ministry is not about me. Even when my heart wants it to be a bit about me (which is sinful), I am glad for opportunities like this to remind me that I am simply an instrument in God's overall plan. He will continue to build His church with or without me. But He won't share His glory with anyone. I am reminded of John the Baptist's famous words:
"He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
I want this ministry to be about the name of Jesus. Not the name of Thad. Or Luke. Or Tim. Or Alan. Or anyone else. It needs to be about Jesus. The best way to ensure that happens is to take ourselves less and less serious.