Holy Spirit Responsibility
“Now it’s up to you. Be on your toes – both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people – God’s people they are – to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for.” Acts 20:28 MSG
This coming May will mark 21 years of church leadership responsibilities that began after the completion of a year of training in Goa. Prior to that too I’d been serving in the church for a bit and then way back before in school in the Bible Study and Chapel Services too. As I read this passage of Scripture I can’t help but pause and reflect both with gratitude and wonder at the grace of God that has brought me this far. And I’m praying the lines from Amazing Grace, “And grace will lead us home!”
In a time when Christian leaders are falling like ninepins God’s grace must be appropriated and applied in consistent and radical ways so that we continue carrying the responsibility that was given to us by the Holy Spirit. In my brief journey I’ve seen that at every turn and in the most unexpected ways leadership responsibility has come not because of human ability but Holy Spirit intervention. It reminds me of the psalmist who encourages us saying ‘promotion doesn’t come from the east or west but it’s the Lord who lifts one up and puts another down’ (my paraphrase).
In our passage we’re urged to “be on our toes”, to have an alertness to carry out the responsibility given well. The alertness just begin with our own souls, we must tend the garden of our lives well as we seek to serve others. Then we must be alert to the condition of the congregation that God has made us overseers of. For some that could be just the family, for others the team that we lead at work and still others the church that we serve. Every one of us have the same responsibility to ensure that we are alert to their needs, challenges and condition and adjust our service in ways that will help them be all that God wants them to be.
Church leaders have the additional responsibility of ensuring the doctrine, culture and mission of the church are on track as we pursue the vision that God has set before us. And we have to do it with the people that God has given us. I know in the past there have been some challenging people with whom I have had significant difficulty. So the last line of the passage is especially important for me at times of conflict and difficulty to remember that “God himself thought they were worth dying for.” That massive truth must shape my heart toward all and especially those that I may have difficulty relating with. That to accept the charge of being responsible for them means I will “guard and protect them”.
Any leadership is a big responsibility from God; church responsibility even more so. May God grace us to carry that to His satisfaction and for His purpose.