We can complete this sentence with an endless list of examples. Why can’t we control the spread of Covid-19 around the world? Why can’t we control the people around us? Why can’t we control the circumstances we are in so as to achieve our desired results? Why can’t we get what we want?
Church leadership is not immune to the struggle for control. Where there is a pursuit for control, there will be no shortage of anger, frustration and discouragement. Where there is a pursuit for control in a church setting, there will be plenty of conflict to go around. Such was the case with the disciples when James and John came to Jesus with the request to sit at His left and right hand in glory. In essence, they asked for greater glory and control with Jesus. Jesus responded with this word concerning the issue of control.
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Matthew 20:25
The world system is all about control. It’s about getting and keeping control. It’s about exercising authority over others to get what you want. It’s about protecting those who are in authority when their position is threatened. We often see pastors who have fallen into sin be protected by their boards or close associates. It’s all about keeping control.
We could name plenty of names among pastors and church leaders whose life in ministry is all about control. This has always been an issue in the church. We read from I Peter 5 this directive for those in positions of leadership,
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. I Peter 5:2-3
A godly leader never seeks to control others in order to achieve a desired result. An ungodly leader uses people. An ungodly leader seeks control over people for the fulfillment of their own desires. Jesus dealt with this issue of control by saying,
Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45
As pastors and church leaders, we never seek to control others, but we also commit ourselves to serve others. We are not superstars, but servants of the King of kings and Lord of lords. We are not in charge, He is. We do not and cannot control others. We do not seek control in order to achieve what we want, but we serve others with a humble spirit that yields to the only One who truly is in control.
I find great freedom in the truth that I do not have to be in control. It’s not on me to control the world around me. I am not the General Manger of the Universe. In the end, we simply pray, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.