Posted: July 19, 2012 by James Harvey
In chapter five of Spiritual Leadership, entitled "Pauline Sidelights on Leadership," J. Oswald Sanders reflects on the qualifications for spiritual leaders in 1st Timothy 3:2-7. Verse six of this passage reads: "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil." Sanders observes, "A recent convert lacks the spiritual maturity and stability essential to wise leadership." He gives the expected caution regarding putting talented but unseasoned and untested disciples in positions of leadership. Then Sanders makes observations about spiritual maturity in general. His words are important for the way in which we evaluate where God is calling us to serve. Quoting Bonhoeffer, he writes:
"It is the mark of a grown-up man, as compared with a callow youth, that he finds his center of gravity wherever he happens to be at the moment, and however much he longs for the object of his desire, it cannot prevent him from staying at his post and doing his duty. This is just what a new convert finds it difficult to do. It is a characteristic which accompanies a growing maturity."
More and more there is a dearth of willingness (of men especially) who are willing to give time to the local church. Sometimes there are legitimate conflicts in play which these men cannot overcome. Other times, however, I have sensed that the work of the local church looks less impressive to them than the work of their company or the work of a large mega-church.
Such a disposition in the heart of a prospective leader reveals an immaturity about God's work in the world, and a blind spot regarding their own spiritual life. If a man who is spiritually qualified finds himself in a church setting where he is needed, yet refuses to serve because he judges the church beneath his time, he may well be acting immaturely, denying God's providential placement of him in that place at that time. I've served in places where the grass was quite green, and in places where the grass was quite lean and faded. But it was grass nonetheless, God was watering both places, and God was calling me to be his instrument to poor out that water in faithfulness. Don't judge. Be mature. Serve God where you are and don't lust after greener places.
PS--Sometimes the green that you see is actually spray paint too. A thin coating of glitz to cover the faded grass beneath. We shouldn't be naive.