In my own spiritual journey I often reflect upon the words of Revelation 3: 15-16. Am I hot, cold, or lukewarm in regard to my faith in Christ? The consequences of being lukewarm as spelled out in these verses of Scripture paint a picture that is not pleasant. Have I allowed complacency, apathy, and indifference seep into my life? Have I become satisfied with the status quo?
These are important questions for all of us who are sincerely seeking an intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, for those of us who find ourselves in leadership positions within the Church, it is an absolute necessity that we stay rooted in prayer and humble service to our God. If we fail in our own spiritual quest to know, love, and serve God, we endanger the welfare of those who have been entrusted to our pastoral care. The words of Scripture penetrate with a resounding boom of harshness in regard to the accusations made toward those who have leadership responsibilities but fail to live up to them. Do the words, "brood of vipers, hypocrites, whitewashed tombs" sound familiar? Another one from Matthew 18:6 paraphrased, "It is better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be tossed into the sea rather than lead one of these little ones astray." It is clear that there is a huge responsibility attached to the privilege of serving God's people.
A friend of mine and I were recently discussing some of the challenges in Church life, and in particular, Church leadership. He said, "Politically motivated mediocrity does not inspire." I will admit that I was stopped in my tracks with that one line.
In my preaching and teaching I have addressed the dangers of mediocrity for years. I have used resources from some of the best business writers, motivational speakers, and others in addition to our wealth of faith based resources. However, I had never put it into the context of a politically motivated concept. By the words "politically motivated" I am not insinuating running for office or being a lobbyist. I am referring to the comfort zone we find ourselves in when we don't confront and tackle the difficult issues. Is it easier (safer) to stay away from the hot button topics rather than lead God's people in the ways of truth? Quite frankly, do we water down the Gospel message and "tickle the ears" of those who hear? Do we foster complacency and apathy in God's people rather than inspire?
As an individual who has a leadership position in the Church, I have plenty to ponder on this Good Shepherd Sunday. I also have significant needs for which to pray. Our hope is in the Lord who made heaven and earth. Please pray Psalm 23 today. Please pray for all those who have the responsibility of leadership in our parishes--clergy, religious, and lay leaders. Ask God to send an abundance of laborers into the harvest, and ask that those who are serving will truly be filled with zeal and fervor in living out their vocation.