Are you a pastor, on staff, or a volunteer in a leadership role in your congregation? I have had the privilege to have this role for the last 15 years. Something that has bothered me about my relationship with those around me is that I have loved each and every person I come in contact with, but have not felt we were friends. It has been a hard concept to explain, but I find I am not alone with this feeling.
I have often said that if home is church then the church can be a home also. In that context, those around me in the congregation are my family. I reflect on my relationship at home with my family. When it comes to my children, I love them dearly and unconditionally. I would do just about anything for them. But many times I have felt that being their friend is not helpful. My role as a parent, from my perspective, has been to love them, nurture them, let them know there is always a place to call home and come back to, and ready them to live apart from me in a healthy way so they may live independently and continue on their own faith journey in a community like the one they were raised in.
Is this not the role I have in the congregation also? My role with my children clearly is more of a leadership role. It’s to point them in the right direction and be there to support and help. My role in the church is the same for God’s children. What a gift (and a relief) to recognize that loving one another unconditionally is not always synonymous with being a friend. Some may argue this point with me, but honestly as a leader in the church, is it not a role I should take very seriously? And do I not need to set limits and make rules? Am I not the one responsible for building relationships and nurturing one’s faith?
In my own family, I have learned that building those relationships is the healthy thing to do. Providing a time and a place for this lies in my court as the leader in my home and in the congregation. Over the past 8 years, I’ve learned that establishing rituals and traditions as Vibrant Faith Ministries suggest is valuable. And I have learned that using the outline for the FAITH5 as Faith Inkubators encourages has become that ritual and tradition in my house with family, in small groups in the congregation, and in meetings.
I recently called the learning team together for a meeting. When I invited the first person to share Highs & Lows, someone else spoke loudly and said, “Whenever Debbie is here we don’t start without Highs & Lows.” That person is correct. I also will not have a meeting without reading scripture, relating it to our lives, and closing with a prayer and a blessing. I believe without setting expectations and intentionality, we can lose focus on why we really gather in the church community. It is through sharing the FAITH5 and modeling as a leader in the congregation that I have learned to love others and I believe they, too, have begun to build deeper relationships. Unless I have the opportunity to know what’s happening in your life and what to pray for, I don’t know you.
Pastors, staff, and volunteers in leadership roles, we are called to love God’s children. Our challenge is to love them unconditionally as we love our own children.
In John 15:14, Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Our goal should be to help others know that Jesus is their ultimate friend, not me. (Arghhhhh!)Tough lesson to learn, but I have discovered well worth it to be blessed to be the one who can help others understand what Jesus commanded and feel very blessed to know that I have a friend in Jesus.