Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer once wrote:
in God’s sight there are no little people and no little places. Only one thing is important: to be consecrated persons in God’s place for us, at each moment. No Little People
This should be very heartening because, like me, in the grand scheme of things you will probably find yourself serving the Lord as one of the little people. There: I said it. I hope this wounding truth won’t drive you away. It’s not my intention to discourage or disparage you but, rather, to remind you that if you know who you are in Jesus and are consecrated or set apart to God and for His purposes, your little efforts may play a disproportionately large part in His plans. And, what is God’s plan? Well, it’s all wrapped up in Christ:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:16–20 ESV)
See, your efforts really matter and you are part of something big, even if most people may never know your name or take note of your achievements.
I’m glad someone pointed me to Francis Schaeffer’s little booklet long ago and it’s informed my outlook on so many things and in so many ways — from serving the Church in small-town, rural America to working with Christians in far-flung villages in Uganda.
But, now, at the end of more than 30 years of serving Christ and His church, heading into a different sort of ministry, it seems as if God’s place for me at this moment is to reach beyond the small, out of the way places I’ve spent most of my life, to offer little bits of insight, wisdom, and encouragement to Christians all over the world.
So, what exactly do I have to offer? I mean, who am I to put myself forward as an authority or expert on Christian leadership and why should anyone listen to what I have to say? I may just be on some trip.
I left you with this observation by a personal friend in my last post:
But I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be doing what I am doing now, nor would I be effective doing what I am doing, were it not for the years of experience as a pastor of a small in your face church that was situated behind enemy lines. I think students are now connecting because they can sense that it is for real.1
Like my friend, I will be writing from years of experience: I hope and pray that these lessons learned in seemingly insignificant and obscure settings will communicate authenticity and real concern for you, as you minister to God’s people where he has placed you. I want to serve you well. In future posts, I will be speaking from or pointing back to:
- Personal anecdotes from years of ministry
- Stories related to me, personally, by trusted leaders I know or have known
- Books and articles I have read
- Notable quotes
Often, I will speak in the third person or use fictitious names for the characters in my personal stories, in order to avoid embarrassment or easy identification (Example: “I know of an elder, who…” The “elder” may be me or an elder I have served with or a pastor I know personally or the subject of a book or article).2 This will be tricky. I will use the third person to mix it up. My aim here is not to shame anyone or seek to vindicate myself, but provide real-life examples of what you can expect to encounter in the Church, particularly if you are young or just setting out on the task of leading or pastoring. Many, if not most, of my anecdotes will come from the works of others that have been published or broadcast: I will relate those as I received them with proper citation.
At the end of the day, I find my qualification to blog about Christian leadership within the same authority that granted you and I to serve Jesus and His church in the work of the ministry — the word of God:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11–14 ESV)
- a personal friend, who pastored a small church and is now teaching and administrating at a large Christian University [↩]
- The New Testament uses the terms elder, pastor, overseer or their various other translations, such as shepherd or bishop, interchangeably. This NT vocabulary serves to illustrate or emphasize the character and various functions of the leader(s) in local Christian communities. So, when I speak of elders, pastors or overseers on this blog, I am referring to the same leaders within a church – an elder is a pastor and an overseer. [↩]