Thursday, October 24, 2013
Male Spiritual Leadership - I
No, we're not all the same. We tend to tell people, "We're not a denomination." I tell people, "We're an autonomous, non-denominational denomination" because, let's face it, even though we don't answer to a denominational board, we know what our beliefs are. There are exceptions. Some of us won't associate or speak to others who will do things like use instruments, eat in the building, or wear shorts in the summer.
But when it comes down to it, we're connected. We know what "Guide, guard, and direct us" is. We sing "Low in the gravy lay". Some of us have felt the guilt of not wearing a tie on the Sunday we were supposed to preside over the Lord's table. We know that "separate and apart from the Lord's supper" we take up the offering. We, for the most part, know the beauty of congregational a cappella singing. Most of us older than 25 know what 728b is. We mostly all believe in baptism "for the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 2:38).
In fact, here in the Greater Portland Metro area we have an event called TLC: Together in Love for Christ where all the Churches of Christ come together to worship in unity. We set aside our issues and worship together. As far as I know it is the only one of its kind in the U.S. We just had this event last weekend and it was a blessing.
One thing I grew up watching and seeing as I began ministry, I was shocked to learn how many men were unwilling to lead a public prayer. They were not comfortable doing it. They got too tongue-tied to speak to God in front of other people. They would not bless the food at our wonderful potlucks. They wouldn't read scripture in front of the congregation. It would embarrass them too much if they stumbled or stuttered over words.
I wonder today why that is so.
At the time, I respected their honesty. After all, I know embarrassment and wouldn't wish to put anyone in a position like that. I moved on and asked someone else to do it. I was familiar with the feeling many men had. I grew up in a church where there were also men who felt this way. It wasn't new. It wasn't new, but it had become an epidemic.
Today, I see this epidemic in a different way. Outside of leading singing, something someone may not be good at, we should be more than willing to stand before our body of Christ and lead prayers and read God's word. Of all the people in the church, men should be willing to do that. We have been called to lead.
I will say that again: "We have been called to lead!"
Adam was created to lead. He was created to be a leader. When he didn't lead, his wife strayed and ate the fruit the serpent tempted her with.
I think about my children and my wife. I think of what they see when their dad steps up to the stage to speak, pray, and to lead songs of praise. My son wants to follow in my footsteps. He's already asked if he can lead with me at 8 years old. It makes me proud. Deep in my heart is a warmth of joy as I feel as I have fulfilled what God has called me to.
My conviction is that the more we call men to lead holy lives, we will see them lead holy families and a holy church. We men need this leadership even if it "just" passing communion trays. Even if it is "just" praying publicly. Even if it is "just" preaching. Even if it is "just" leading singing. And so on. (It's not "just" passing a tray or praying. These are very important. And it's important we do a good job leading these and modeling holy prayer and holy singing and holy leadership...perhaps this needs to be it's own blog post).
I want to ask my fellow men to step up and lead. You've been called to this. I am watching this responsibility being discarded and it's wrong. I have more to say on this, so I will leave it here for today.