There are always tensions in leadership; things that can cause us to go off the rails on one side or the other side of an issue. Here are ten of them from Chuck Lawless.
Originally posted by Chuck Lawless
Ten fine lines of church leadership tension
1. Vision vs. ego. I want church leaders to long for God to use them to do something significant for His glory. I want them praying for God to mark history through them so the nations might know His name. There’s a fine line, though, between “God, use me mightily” and “God, make sure the press knows how much You’ve used me.”
2. Full effort vs. self-dependence. Frankly, we don’t need any more lazy ministers of the gospel. We need leaders who give their absolute best – learning well, planning fully, working diligently, assessing honestly, taking their paycheck without shame. There’s a fine line, though, between giving full effort and depending on self rather than on God.
3. Faith vs. recklessness. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). By faith, the heroes of Hebrews 11 did some phenomenal things – including dying for the sake of the gospel. There’s a fine line, though, between living by faith and making reckless choices that we claim as faith steps.
4. God-centered pragmatism vs. man-centered pragmatism. It’s right to ask the questions, “Is God using our church to make disciples – and if not, why not? Might we need to change something to do God’s work more effectively?” There’s a fine line, though, between asking these questions and making changes that lose a Godward focus.
5. Disciplemaking church vs. classroom. Few people would deny that several generations of church leaders have failed in discipleship. We’ve taught too little doctrine and expected too little accountability. There’s a fine line, though, between addressing this problem biblically and turning the church into a classroom where information transfer is assumed to be enough.
6. Burden vs. discouragement. I long to see church leaders who are broken over their communities. We need leaders who grieve the unreached living in their ministry area and around the world – leaders who cannot help but weep over the lost. There’s a fine line, though, between bearing that Great Commission weight and getting discouraged and defeated if few people respond.
7. Corporately evangelizing vs. not personally evangelizing. Here, I’m thinking primarily of preaching pastors. Gospel-centered preaching should always point to the cross and call hearers to respond in faith and repentance. There’s a fine line, though, between evangelizing through this means and granting oneself permission to ignore personal evangelism.
8. Contextualization vs. compromise. Contextualization may be as simple as speaking the gospel in the language of the hearers or as complicated as understanding the worldview of an unreached people group – and is, in my opinion, a necessary task in sharing the gospel. There’s a fine line, though, between legitimate contextualization and compromise to reach more people.
9. Building God’s kingdom vs. building our own kingdom. Building God’s kingdom includes reaching non-believers, equipping believers, and addressing social issues. “Success” might even bring legitimate opportunities for more godly influence in His kingdom. There’s a fine line, though, between using our gifts fully for God’s kingdom and thinking God’s kingdom needs us.
10. Global focus vs. “Jerusalem neglect.” I am deeply grateful for churches that engage the nations, pray for unreached people groups, and send their own to the ends of the earth on short-term or long-term commitments. There’s a fine line, though, between prioritizing the nations and ignoring the local community (and vice-versa, for that matter).
Here’s the point: we need to live on the fine line that separates these tensions. For example, the enemy would not want us on the line of vision vs. ego; he would want us to have no vision at all or be arrogant about our vision. He would want us to be lazy or self-dependent, faithless or reckless, unconcerned or discouraged. We counter his calls to the extremes by living on the line – and trusting God to empower us and guard us there.