So we've talked about the three groups most likely to step up in our churches and offer to lead ministries - those who need to be needed, those who need to be seen, and those who need control - and we've seen how their ministries become toxic when too much self-interest is mixed in.
At the same time, we hold onto two other truths: first, that if it were not for these persons stepping up, most of our ministry needs would go unfilled. Second, we are a redemptive people, called not to hold anyone to their yesterdays but to believe in their tomorrows.
This is where we usually get ourselves in trouble right out of the gate. There's a certain mindset that says that maybe we can just let someone work their way out of their own brokenness by leading, that the more we trust them and the more responsibility we give them, the more likely they are to step up and work their way out of the very thing that made them step up in the first place.
And sometimes, that's true. Sometimes, someone can settle into a ministry of leadership and have that so centered on God that it puts to rest the stirred things in their own soul.
As we saw with the person who needs to be needed, when their recognition fades in their current ministry, they usually just add a second one and then a third and then a fourth, rather than dealing with the discomfort they feel when they no longer feel needed. The person who needs to be seen will usually make an even bigger spectacle if you ignore the first one. The person who needs control will buckle down and squish everything under their thumb if they feel like the ministry is getting away from them.
Perceived "failures" in ministry tend to make persons double down on the insecurities that brought them here in the first place, not finally step into and resolve them healthily.
This is why we need to have a strong core of Godly leaders in the church who can recognize these patterns (and others - Lord knows this list is not exhaustive) in the willing and can help disciple them toward truly impactful leadership in the church.
We need to have elders who can take the willing under their wing. We need to have pastors who regularly have meetings with lay leaders about more than the status of their ministry; he or she needs to have a finger on the pulse of the leadership itself. We need to have mature believers who can help gently push and guide in all wisdom and truth.
And I know what you're thinking - what if we scare off the willing? What if we talk about discipling and surrender and satisfying the needs of the lay leader's heart and that lay leader decides not to lead at all?
Well, then, is that a person you really wanted leading in the first place?
We are talking about a church here. We are talking about a redemptive fellowship of God's people saved by His grace. If you have persons in your church who haven't tapped into that fellowship or that grace and aren't using it the way God intended - to mark their own lives by His Cross - then those persons are simply not qualified to lead in your church. And if they aren't even willing to step toward Calvary, then that's all the proof you need - this is not someone you need leading in your church. Period.
That sounds harsh, and maybe it is, but it's true. If you have persons who claim to love God but shy away from grace, who claim to be committed to the church but won't tap into its resources for their own needs, then you have someone using the church - even leadership in the church - to fill a need, to satisfy a brokenness they are unwilling to surrender.
You may have more ministries than you thought possible, but with these persons in charge, if you aren't holding them accountable to a meaningful discipling program, will bring your church down from the inside out.