Not Spectators But Participants

| 26 February 2020

When I arrived at Emmanuel Faith two years ago, I thought
it was my responsibility to meet everyone’s expectations of me! It didn’t matter who it was or whether their expectations were right or wrong, just that they had them. So, I worked myself bone tired trying to entertain, amaze, support, counsel, connect, and impress nearly everyone I came across.

Paul talks about the “works of service” we are to do for God in Ephesians. I desperately wanted to serve, but I had made the unfortunate assumption that I was the main attraction and the one God called to do all the works of service for the church! I misunderstood myself to be the main player on the field.

A critical turning point came by accident. One Tuesday I had no time to prepare for a college men’s Bible Study for that night, so desperate and tired, I texted one of the men I trusted to lead in my place for the night. He agreed, and with relief and uncertainty, I went to the Bible study. The change in the group and the room was dynamic! Men were speaking up that hadn’t opened their mouths in the group before. They dove into Scripture with a new passion and began praying for real requests. My pride was hurt, but God began to whisper something in my ear that I thought I’d already learned: This isn’t about you!

Personal pride and ambition can cause me/us to make much of my/our calling. Jesus calls all of us to serve one another. The job of a church pastor, director, or staff member isn’t to be a rock star. We’re the music teacher, stage builder, audio technician, or the hype man. We support God’s people to shine in ministry. The reason for this is biblical: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers aren’t meant to be admired and praised for their abilities. Rather, they’ve been called to serve the church so that the body is built up, elevated, and raised for the sake of “works of service.”

Realizing this at a practical level changed my approach to leadership and role as College Pastor. Eventually, I began to look for ways to put others on the stage and in the limelight. These moments were frustrating at times as I watched college students be themselves while my own desire for perfection demanded professionalism.

As the audience I’d been performing for began to realize they were not spectators but participators, a spiritual fire broke out in their hearts, I’m happy to say that fire is blazing hotter today than it was a couple months ago, and the flames rise higher with each opportunity to hand the stage and the mic away to a student called to lead.

In order to live this out in a new way, ask Jesus to provide opportunities for you to encourage others around you with how you see God using them. Hebrews 3:13 tells us to encourage each other daily, as long as it is called “today.” As Jason Wilson says, “I have seen discipline and admonishment fail, but I’ve never seen encouragement fail.” Pray Jesus gives you the opportunity to encourage someone around you.

Ryan Lunde
Young Adults Pastor