1 Corinthians 3:10-23
For Sunday, February 19, 2017
Seventh Sunday After Epiphany, Year A
In a well-intentioned desire reach people we put great effort into making our ministries attractive. Yet in so doing we run the risk of forgetting what matters most. It all belongs to them.
It’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves, especially in ministry. I used to run the college-age ministry at my church. We worked hard on putting together good meetings. On our best days these meetings honored who God wanted us to be as a worshipping community. Yet on other days we would get so caught up in what we were trying to do for people that we forgot the significance of the people themselves. Without realizing it we started to presume that the people were there to serve our program rather than our whole ministry being there to serve them. The same dynamic can play out in any organization, whether in business, education, or government.
In light of this notice what Paul says to the Corinthians in this week’s reading:
So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
– 1 Cor. 3:21-23
What matters is not the attractiveness of our events. What matters is the inheritance every Christian has in the gospel of Christ. “It all belongs to you.” It isn’t about who is leading. What it’s all about is the inheritance we have received in Christ, an inheritance which conquers the world, life, death, the present and future.
If we really get this we will lead differently. We will lead in a way that honors the inheritance reflected in each person we serve. My former pastor Stuart Briscoe’s philosophy of ministry was this: “Preach the Word. Love the people. Follow the Spirit.” Notice that second part. The reason we “love the people” is precisely because all that we are about as Christians belongs to them. As leaders we are not more important than the people we serve. We are less important because it all belongs to them. Whenever I’ve been with Stuart I’ve felt this tangibly. I mattered more to him than he mattered to himself. There is a huge difference between a leader whose focus is his program versus a leader whose focus is his precious people.
So how do we live and lead in a way that affirms that “It all belongs to you”? Here are some ideas:
- Invest at least 30 minutes a day praying for those we lead and serve
- When meeting with those we serve, really listen with an intent to understand, love, and serve, rather than to defend, discount or dismiss.
- Slow down and simply serve in the moment.
As a member of your own church, business, or organization, when have you most felt like it all belonged to you? What does this experience suggest about ways to affirm in our fellow believers the precious inheritance we have in Christ?