After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.
It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. [1 Corinthians 3:5-8; NLT]
Spiritually speaking, our American tendency towards rugged individualism can be as dangerous as a physical cancer. Both kill, but at least cancer ends with the lives it takes, eternal destruction never does.
I have always been a spiritual, rugged individualist. While I might let you be a leader, and even though I might have recognized the biblical truth that God put you in spiritual authority over me, I would never fully commit to your authority. Something in me always rebelled at the thought that someone else might be able to tell me what to do and think. We enter into dangerous waters here, as those who were forced to drink Jim Jones’ Cool Aid would attest, if they only could, but like anything else in life administered by humans, discernment is always critical, and should never be sacrificed.
As I was praying night before last, my mind and prayers were directed towards the leadership of the church we’re attending. Without warning, the prayers began to transcend my own mental understanding of the well known principles of God-appointed authority, and I realized with a shock that I had never fully committed myself to the leadership God had put in place over my life. I confess – I have trust issues; I doubt that is unique to me.
Analyzing my thoughts about leadership, I realized my attitude has always been close to “Prove to me why I should trust you.”, rather than trusting God to know what He is doing. With that in mind, I then understood the overblown power I’ve given to my own preferences. If I don’t like you, or like the way you talk, or how you present your message, it’s all too easy for me to write you off, and completely fail to see what God is trying to do in my life via this all-to-human vessel. It’s also more than a little likely I will not see my prevailing, underlying attitude as an act of rebellion, but rather an act born out of caution….again, it’s a trust issue.
I see now that the trust issue is not so much as me having difficulty in trusting other humans, although it masquerades as such; the underlying issue is my lack of trust in Almighty God. In effect, I trust Him just as long as He’s falling in line with my preferences, but all too often I rebel against Him, while deceiving myself that I’m not really rebelling, when He steps out of line and violates my preferences. And I just have to ask, who is God in my life, me or Him?
All these thoughts flashed through my mind as I began to pray, and God showed me that leadership positions can be positions of isolation, and that’s extremely dangerous ground for anyone, especially Christians. Who can I confide in? There are many I’m sure, but as pastor of a large church, then who could I confide in? It’s lonely at the top…and dangerous. Consequently, I began to seriously pray for the staff at my church.
I’ve prayed for them before of course, but not like I did night before last. This time I realized the odds against them and the increasingly dangerous and risky battle they often fight – alone. And God told me, “I brought you here to pray for these men and women; it’s an urgent, important and critical assignment, and you need to fully accept the responsibility I’ve placed upon you.”
My trust issue is quickly becoming resolved, after all these years. God placed me here at this time – for His reasons, and His reasons are always good. If the entire church staff leaves town with their secretaries and all the church money…God will prevail, and He’ll take complete care of me.
The real question is: Will I remain responsible to Him, and fulfill my God-given assignment with trust, intensity and joy while history unfolds. It is my conscious choice to do so.
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