hope for churches in stress

Leadership and Partnership

Sadly, the tendency of any group of humans, whatever the size, is to become entangled in unproductive behaviors. There is no more effective antidote than the one prescribed by the apostle Paul over 2,000 years ago.

In Ephesians 5:21-33, the apostle identifies two essential contributions for good group dynamics. By application to two specific groups, it is evident that Paul understood this to be true for groups of any size, from two (as in marriage) to countless millions (as in the Church). In every group, there must be leadership and there must be partnership.

Both leadership and partnership, the apostle stresses, must be exercised in a particular way. Leaders are to lead like Christ. Partners are to contribute like the Church (at its best).

For leaders to lead like Christ is essential. When leadership is accepted in humility, exercised with care, and strengthened by kindness, a leader emulates the headship of Jesus Christ in sacrificial service.

It is equally vital for people in the faith community to reciprocate in purposeful partnership. As described by the apostle Paul, the Church partners with Christ in full communication—that is, by prayer. The Church is a full partner in the work of Christ, pursuing (and, in fact, is entrusted with) his mission on earth. And the Church partners with Christ in full accord with his mind and Spirit.

The outcome of this complementary collaboration—and the measure of its success—is that everyone in the group is submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

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