In previous posts, I have been writing about developing natural qualities of leadership within congregations, these are traits that can be practiced anywhere — on the job, in a club or organization, even within the family. You can obviously be a leader and a good example to others without having any religious convictions at all. But the Bible tells us that without certain supernatural qualities, all the skills in the word are only a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” — in other words, meaningless. The supernatural qualities are living faith, hope, love and humility.
As a member of small congregations I have had the chance to know a number of Christians “up close and personal.” It’s hard to stay on a superficial footing when the group is small. These people influenced me greatly. They have been leaders in my life, and they have taught me to be a leader also. They are just regular folks, and I won’t try to single them out because it would be too hard. But each one has taught me something. Some have been mentors, some have been friends, all have been examples to me and to others of the Christian life. You might want to think about your own list of leaders, the people who have taught you how to live the Christian life.
I did not come from a deeply religious home. My family believed in God and even went to church sometimes. But Christ was not a part of our daily lives. At Peace In Christ, I met people who actually prayed before they made a decision. In our adult Sunday School class we had lively discussions about how to apply Biblical truth to our lives. This was not a study of literature or history; it was more like reading the directions before starting on a trip. These people had a living faith and I began to want to be more like them.
For one thing, they radiated such hope. Oh, they had the same problems as other people. They lost jobs, fought with their kids, got divorced. Their cars and their dishwashers broke down. Sometimes they got angry or discouraged, but they never lost faith in God and His promises. Their hope was not just for a better life in heaven; they believed that “all things work together for good for those who love God” today. They knew that God was with them and would continue to use them even when things went wrong, or they made mistakes.
I also saw people in my congregation love in a pretty radical way. Most of us love the people who love us. Here I saw men and women loving some of those most would consider difficult or even unlovable. There was the hospice nurse who ministered to the dying and their families; the retiree who volunteered at the rescue mission; the guy who had a great time teaching the Group Home Sunday School class. We had members who loved unruly little kids, surly teenagers and the most irritating fellow members. They even loved me! There were people at my church who seemed willing to love anyone who would let them.
And yet these people who became such special examples to me saw themselves as ordinary. And they were. They were all teaching me while they were still learning themselves. Like the servant in the parable, they would say they were only using the gifts God gave them. Anyone can do it. I can do it. You can do it.
For more on using your gifts see: