I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8
I recently read a blog post by a prominent leader in the evangelical world. It was a post about “Rules of Thumb” for healthy churches. The rules were all about the proper acreage for church property, the number of parking spaces per attendance, the maximum occupancy for buildings, maximum debt payment budgeted, and so on. You get the picture. It broke my heart.
I know this leader/blogger to be a godly man and a well-respected leader. I absolutely do not question that. To his credit, his own comments to that post state that he regrets using the words “healthy churches” in his title, as if these various metrics have anything to do with church health. I respect that, and am so glad he made that correction. I had actually written my own comment to the effect that he should have entitled the post “Ten Things You as a Church Leader Should NOT be Obsessing About”. I refrained. Maybe I shouldn’t have refrained.
Two observations here:
1. I believe our pastors and ministers and rectors and priests often do obsess about the wrong things…I believe church leaders today are easily swayed from “setting the Lord always before us”;
2. I believe that is our own fault for allowing them, even encouraging them, to do that.
Don’t you think “I have set the Lord always before me” is a comment about focus? I do. I think it means always, always, always helping us stay focused on the Head of the church (Jesus) and what He desires and what Honors Him and what His kingdom requires. I think it means, when the rest of the world is focused on money or buildings or programs or processes or legalities or metrics of one kind or another, or counting noses or measuring parking spaces, somebody somewhere in a leadership role is helping us stay focused on Jesus…helping us see all of these issues (and others) through the lens of scripture and through God’s eyes. It means seeing EVERYTHING against the backdrop of the cross. That is what spiritual leadership does.
It seriously breaks my heart to see so very many pastors and church leaders spending their precious energies and their sacred calling to gain the world’s wisdom about parking spaces and seat bottoms. I think we should expect more from them…and as a leader myself, I think those whom I lead should expect more from me. I think we should stop pressing our pastors to know those things and should start pressing them to press us!
When I teach the Principle of Focus in churches overseas, I am sorry to report that I have a seemingly endless supply of illustrations of LACK of focus from the church in America. Sadly, that is our reputation. Even more sadly, we have earned it.
But be encouraged…because, no matter how badly we fail, and no matter how out-of-whack our focus becomes, it is still His church…and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I am so glad for that!