Devotion for Week 1 - Leadership
As a congregation, we desire individually and collectively to use our God-given influence both to help people take next steps toward Jesus and to work for the flourishing of our city and our world. We also aspire to develop the next generation of leaders, who will seek to do the same. As Jesus explains in Matthew 5:13-16, this sort of leadership requires both preservation and attraction, defense and offense, salt and light.
On one hand, our leadership should be salty. Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth.” In Jesus’ day, salt was used primarily as a preservative, not as a flavoring. In other words, Jesus is suggesting that our world in its fallen condition is subject to decay, and it’s the challenging but essential calling of Christians to be agents of redemption. In our work, in our schools, in our families, in our city, at sporting events, even in our own fellowship – where we see that things are breaking down, amidst dishonesty and corruption, when people are demeaned and excluded, when conversation turns to gossip or lewdness, when God’s leading standards are redefined, when a relationship is moving toward misunderstanding and anger – we are called to work for justice, to stand up for others, to pursue forgiveness and peace, to choose integrity, to speak up for truth, to be people whose very presence preserves what is right and restrains what is evil. As a congregation, God has given us resources to help develop leaders for the church and the marketplace who can humbly and courageously stand for what is good, beautiful, and true.
But on the other hand, our leadership should also be radiant. It should be attractive. And it should point others toward Jesus, who says, “You are the light of the world.” Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, we are called to reflect the light of Jesus in a hurting and hopeless world. For some of us, this means giving our time and energies to ministries like the Alpha Course, Mercy Street, International Friendship Program, or Bonton Farms. For others of us, it might mean leading a small group, hosting worship on Sunday mornings, or teaching kids in Sunday school.
But for all of us, it means faithfully living as a Christian so that people will marvel and be drawn to the light. It means living with joy, humility, honesty, love, and gentleness and then having the courage to give verbal witness to the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” As a congregation, we want to develop leaders who can winsomely lead others to Christ.
Admittedly, we have a long way to go in pursuit of this calling. Our world is constantly changing, and we need to develop leaders who not only know God’s Word but who know how to share it well with others. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we all fall short in representing Jesus to the world in the way that we should. But as we look to the one who perfectly represented us, the one who lived and died in our place, we are confident that he will enable us to use our influence to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world that he calls us to be.