Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Lonely Leaders.

A minister who is providing leadership for the church will by definition be a very lonely man.  He is out in front and away from the crowd.  He is the shepherd and not a sheep.  He faces dangers at the front line.  He can be most vulnerable out there, with few friends.  While others are content to remain in the safety of the fold, and take no risks for the sake of the Gospel, the shepherd wants to go out in front leading the way to heaven and to home.

If a minister has many followers and supporters, many speaking well of him and saying how great he is, he is probably not a leader, but a follower. The church today needs leaders, but she does not want leaders.  Leaders, if they are Christian leaders in any real sense, will draw the flock further and further away from ther world, but that is not always what the church really wants.  She wants to be able to live in peaceful co-existence with the world.  And within dead churches, a leader is as unwelcome as anything could be.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was "a very lonely man."  Whilst he had many admirers and followers, not many went the length that he went as a preacher of the Gospel.  He was innovative in the right sense and longed to see true truth re-established in the churches.  But he not only longed for this - he actually did something about it.  He put his faith into action.  Had it not been for him, there would probably not be the InterVarsity Press (IVP), the Williams Library (The Evangelical Library) in London, The Evangelical Press, or the Inter Collegiate Christian Union (now UCCF), the Banner of Trust Trust, the British Evangelical Council, or many other fine Christian organisations that uphold biblical orthodoxy. 

He was ahead of the crowd, hence his loneliness. He was misunderstood and unjustly criticised.  He had a few very close friends, but many acquaintances.

This is always true of true leaders.  


graham wood said...

Leaving aside the personal position of DMLJ the nub of the 'loneliness' problem for ministers is largely self inflicted. I will try and be brief for the problem is complex and to do with a church "system" which by definition seals off 'the pastor' from the rest of the congregation.
Firstly and initially the fault lies with the mis-nomer of a "call" to "the ministry" for which there is no scriptural warrant.
Secondl, this in trun entrenches the practice of separating the "pstor" from the rest of the body of Christ. This means that the plurality of eldership in practice is denied, and inevitably ministry falls upon one man.
But if you have three elders in a church you have three ministers and three sources for the edification of the church. But the "system" separates just the one who bears the whole burden of ministry - a multicompetent role he was never able to bear.
Secondly, the deliberate rejection of 1 Cor 12-14 as a pattern for church meeting and ministry means that in effect the body (of Christ) is wholly dependent on ONE PART, and not the many, in complete reversal of the body picture Paul presents in 1 Cor . 12.
Thus we have the perennial problem of "clergy burn-out", isolation from the body, and an unscriptural imbalance.
There is no evidence in the NT for ONE member's ministry to be central in the edification of the church. On the contrary, there is abundant evidence that ministry and edification of the church is a function designated to the whole body - not one part.
Thus multiple participation is the rule, not to be the exception.
See 1 Cor. 14:14., 19, 31.
Thus we abuse the NT pattern by making normative that for which there is no evidence (one man's ministry), and we have abandoned that for which there is copious evidence (i.e. "each of you" - "one another" & etc. 1 Cor. 14:26)
Pastor loneliness is therefore entirely avoidable - it simply means a return to basic NT principles found in 1 Cor 12-14, Rom. 12. and Eph 4.

graham wood said...

Hazlett - Sorry missed a sucession of typos - but you get the message.

Hazlett Lynch said...

If only it were that simple.