The Greatest Need in the Church, Part 2
By Pastor Eric L. Ollila | February 10, 2021
Last week, we considered the claim that the Church's greatest need today is Christ and leadership by example, not just Christ alone. If you didn't read the previous article, please check it out for context to this radical claim, The Greatest Need In The Church (albertaadventist.ca)
We observed that Christ did not complete the mission of taking the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people while He was here on earth. And, the Church hasn't achieved that mission either. We concluded last week's devotional with the question, "Why?"
To begin to find our answer, we need to take a look at leadership.
What is leadership? There have been many attempts at defining the term. This definition seems to withstand the most scrutiny:
Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal.
Notice the core elements of this definition:
- Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power.
- Leadership requires others, and that implies they don't need to be "direct reports." They don't have to be your employees or your subordinates, or even your peers. It could be anyone.
- No mention of personality traits, attributes, or even a title; there are many styles, many paths, to effective leadership
- It includes a goal, not influence with no intended outcome.
We will not attempt to plummet the depths of this definition in this devotional. However, it bears mentioning every human being, according to this definition, can be a leader. This becomes evident when we ask a few questions:
- Is it possible for children to socially influence their parents, teachers, or coaches toward achieving a particular goal and influence them to maximize their efforts in doing so?
- Is it possible for a non-board member to socially affect the board members to maximize their efforts toward achieving a particular goal?
- Is it possible for a church member to socially influence a group of other church members, thereby maximizing that group's efforts toward achieving a goal?
The answer is YES.
Consider the child that influences his/her parents to start going to Bible study. Consider the non-board member who influences the Church or school board to undertake a large project they might not otherwise have thought possible. Consider a church member who influences the entire Church to support a specific mission project or sponsor a refugee family. All of the above is possible. And, all of that is considered leadership.
What is the best way to socially influence others and maximize their efforts toward achieving a goal? The answer is simple and should be obvious, but it is perhaps the most overlooked. It is leadership by example. Leadership by example is the best way to influence others toward achieving a particular goal. Success mentor, Darren Hardy, calls leadership by example the "keystone of leadership."
What about us? When we talk about the Church, are we necessary? Isn't Jesus Christ enough to reach the World, all by Himself? The answer is YES, we are required. And NO, Christ cannot reach the World all by Himself. Could He make the rocks cry out? Yes. Could He make a donkey speak? Yes. Could Jesus Christ, if He wanted to, appear in some heavenly high tech form, simultaneously to every person in the World? Sure. Yes. I believe He has the power, ability and authority to do something like that. Would it be effectively sufficient for everyone? And has He done that for all 7.6 billion people on planet earth? No. It would not be effective or sufficient for everyone, and He has not done that for every person on planet earth.
The reason why is because Jesus needs people who connect themselves to Him and go out and lead by example. When God has the World all by Himself, even though He spoke it all into existence, even though He has all power and all authority, without followers who demonstrate leadership by example, the work of reaching people will not get completed. In the Gardener and God (see first devotional), the rock pile still stays a rock pile.
It is this truth that Christ explicitly made a part of the New Covenant before He ratified it with His blood:
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
It is this truth that the Apostles and early Church clearly understood. Paul said to those he ministered to
Follow my example, just as I follow the example of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, join with others in following my example. Pay close attention to those who live in keeping with the pattern we gave you. 18 I have told you those things many times before. Now I say it again with tears in my eyes. Many people live like enemies of the cross of Christ...
In short, Jesus gave us an example to follow. In return, He expects us to follow His example and be an example to others. Our leadership by example is necessary for God's plan. It is true the Church NEEDS Christ. Without Christ, the Creator, we would not exist. He is the Source. It is also clear that Christ has all authority and power. Through some miracle of His, he could simultaneously communicate to all 7.6 billion people on the planet if He wanted. But, He hasn't. At least not in that method. In addition to the Holy Spirit, angels, and His Word, He requires human influence.
The reason why is that not only does God WANT us to participate, He has made it a vital component of the New Covenant. Christ has made our willing cooperation with Him, through leadership by example, a requirement of the New Covenant. Therefore, the Church needs Christ AND leadership by example. He gave us His example. Now He needs our cooperation and our leadership by example in return. It is Christ and us, not just Christ by Himself, that the church needs.
Until the members of the Church recognize and embrace this truth. Until the Church members seek not to hide from this responsibility but fully step into it and do it, we will continue to struggle. We will continue to experience a delay in Christ's return. We will continue to see people die and perish without having had the Gospel carried to them by our example.