This week, we delved into the first five verses of chapter 4 in 1 Corinthians. Previously, we saw Paul correcting the Corinthians in their disunity, specifically in the area of their devotion to some leaders over others–when ultimately all the good these leaders had done was Christ in them, who has unified all believers through faith. In these five verses, Paul gives the Corinthians, and us as a part of God’s church, a framework for thinking about and treatment of our leaders.
In our current society and culture, things like books, radio, video, and the internet give us access to the words and lives of leaders like never before. Often, we can let our devotion to these men and women cause disunity within our own local churches. Opinions about the leadership of our church can also influence our attitude about being led by the men God has appointed as shepherds of our local body. On one hand, we can resist their leading and harshly criticize the weaknesses we observe. On the other hand, we can glorify our leader, believing him to do no wrong, and finding ourselves overlooking his sinfulness or being devastated when they don’t live up to this divine image.
Pastor Brian dove into this passage and showed us how to think of our leaders, how Paul modeled the correct mindset of leaders, and what our response to them should be. In the end, Paul teaches the Corinthians that they are not to set themselves up as the ultimate judges of their leader’s ministries–whether to harshly criticize or inordinately idolize. After showing the marks of a true leader to be one who is faithful–who listens to Jesus and does what He says–Paul states in verses 4-5, “It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
When disunity over leadership begins to sprout in our hearts, minds, and voices, remembering that our pastors are servants (subordinates of Christ) and stewards (administrators on behalf of our Master) can free us to place ourselves under men who display an understanding of this role and a faithfulness to this ministry–even when we discover that he is not perfect. Ultimately, it isn’t what we think about their ministry or even what they think about their ministry that counts–it is the Lord who judges.
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the message from last week, take a few minutes to listen to it here. For those that have, prayerfully consider this week how we are evaluating the leadership in our lives, especially in our local body of believers, and how our attitudes towards and words about our leaders display an understanding of what true leadership is about.