by Jason Gerdes
What I wish I knew before leading a church is that my identity in Christ is based upon receiving and not achieving. As a pastor, I am wired up to achieve and lead into the future. This is a great thing and one I think is very important.
However, when it comes to my identity, it is vital to understand that it is not something that is achieved. Rather, it is something to be received. The essence of Christianity is based upon the finished work of Jesus and not on my unfinished work. It is so easy to connect who I am to how things are going in ministry. Most pastors don’t know how to simply be a Christian without being in ministry. We have learned how to achieve but have not really learned how to receive. Romans 5:17 states:
17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
In order to lead a church, we must have an attitude of achieving or we will not work hard. However, to be a Christian, we must have an attitude of receiving or else we will not grow in grace. In Romans 5:17 Paul states those who receive God’s grace will reign in life through Jesus. The key to leading is first receiving grace. It is truly detrimental to our souls and ultimately the church when we as pastors and leaders focus so much on achieving versus receiving. Even now, you are probably thinking, “Yeah I got this, what I need to know is how to grow my church.” I would ask, why are so consumed with church growth? Is it because deep down you are trying to validate your existence? Jesus said that He would build His church so why are you so worried?
Early on, I found myself tying my significance to how the church was going. If attendance was up then I was up but if attendance was down then I was down. I started to notice this was very unhealthy as it was killing my soul.
It was then, the Holy Spirit showed me the problem was my identity was based on what I was doing instead of what Jesus had done.
Don’t get me wrong; I want the church to grow because I want people to meet Jesus. What I don’t want is to lose my soul in the process. The only way that won’t happen is if I am more concerned with receiving grace then achieving success.
Ask yourself this question to test yourself: Are you ok with just being a Christian or do you need to be a leader? It is OK to want to make a difference but detrimental to need to. Start every day receiving grace in order to meet your needs and then move out into leading the church.