Thriving Leaders: Lessons From the Front Lines of Ministry (pt. 2b “The Call”)

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In our last blog we looked at the first two of four parts to God’s Call: The call to be Christ-followers and the inner call of the Spirit. In this blog we celebrate the God who gifts us for leadership and service; and also the community of faith which sends us forth to use our gifts in God’s service.

3. God’s gifts of the Holy Spirit. Regarding God’s spiritual gifts, God relentlessly pursues us in faithfulness and love. God provides what God guides. God grants us generous gifts of the Spirit to join God in his kingdom purposes in the church and the world.

The gifts of the Spirit are listed in a number of places in the New Testament[i] including gifts Paul mentions such as administration, leadership, teaching and more. The spiritual gifts mentioned in Paul’s letters do not comprise a complete catalog. God is never out of stock or out of date. God freely empowers us with gifts when we get out over our heads in doing something for God. Our focus is always on the giver and not on the specific gift God may give us. Some gifts of the Spirit may be always accessible to us; some are more infrequently given.

Gifts of the Spirit are often discerned by others in the community of faith. I recall one member who wanted to help people. Friends in his church said, “We see in you a gift of serving people in need.” Encouraged by them, he began serving meals to formerly homeless people at a local rescue mission on Monday nights.

I remember a church member who loved to organize projects. Friends saw her gift and encouraged her to make plans for inviting participants, training volunteers and putting in place a schedule for members to work directly with Hispanic children to help them hear and learn English at a local school.

Bill loved to keeping records of events. Friends in the church discerned his gift that could be used to record and maintain the books of the church’s decisions. He agreed to give it a go. In time his friends both encouraged and thanked him for his quiet ministry of “clerking”. He loved doing it.

Gifts of thriving leaders are often discerned by others in the community of faith. Gifts are always given for the common good to build up the body of Christ. Thriving leaders seek to be used by God with the gifts God graciously grants them.

4. God’s commissioning and launching those called to lead and serve. Finally, God’s call to service often involves the community of faith setting apart and sending the ones God has called to serve and lead. ii]

Worship is the setting for the church setting apart those with gifts for leadership and service. I’ve been privileged to watch these moments when members are prayed for and ‘sent out’ to serve. Examples are those going on mission trips, youth going off to a summer camp work project, members who’ve received 50 hours of training and sent out as Stephen Ministers to care for those in need, those ordained and installed to serve as pastors, elders, deacons and trustees, and more. These people, once commissioned and ordained are sent into the church and world to thrive in using their gifts for God’s kingdom purposes.

Thus, thriving leaders are called to follow Christ, called by the inner work of the Spirit to lead and serve, called with special gifts of the Spirit, and called by the community of faith to serve God’s people boldly and confidently.

[i] Romans 12:3-8; I Cor. 12:8-10; Eph. 4:7-12

[ii] See Acts 13:1-3

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