Monday, August 18, 2008

Michael Phelps, Gold Medals, and Ministry

Michael Phelps has won eight gold medals in a single Olympics while setting seven world records. That is an amazing achievement. He has worked very hard to accomplish this goal and is now enjoying the fame that accompanies it.

I have never won a gold medal. I have probably never worked so hard to any goal in my whole life. Although I did work ten years to obtain my masters, while working two ministry-related jobs and raisng a family. Hard work, yes. Gold medal, no. I got a pretty cool diploma to hang on my office wall, though.

But I like to think that my labor has not been in vain. That’s what the Bible tells me. Because I have been laboring for the cause of Christ. Because I have been seeking to do things for His glory and not my own.

I do not know Michael Phelps. I do not know for whom he lives. But if he is not living for Christ, then all of his work is in vain. All those medals do not mean a thing in light of eternity. Only what is done in the name of the Lord will matter.

If Michael Phelps really wants to make a difference, he is going to need to swim another race. Paul would say he has to run. The Christian race. The life in Christ that begins the moment that one places his faith in Jesus Christ.

Otherwise, he should enjoy his moment of fame. It will not last. In an instant, it will all be gone.

As I continue to share what I have been learning in 1 Thessalonians, it is appropriate that Paul is considering the labor of church leaders.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11-12, Paul urges believers to recognize – to know and appreciate – church leaders. To esteem – think rightly and lovingly – them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Submit to their leadership so that peace prevails.

In this passage, Paul describes the three most important responsibilities of church leaders – to labor, to lead, and to teach.

Leaders labor. Being a leader is hard work. It involves a great deal of self-sacrifice. It is a position of responsibility, not a position of privilege.

Leader lead. Church leaders have a responsibility to lead and to guide. As a leader submits to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ he is fit to lead the people under his care.

Leaders teach. Admonish. Put in mind the Word of God. Warn and instruct.

Because of what they do – labor, lead, and teach - if they do it well, church leaders are worthy of respect. And should be esteemed highly in love.

For seven years, I served as a church planter. In these years I came to appreciate the responsibilities of laboring, leading, and teaching.

Now I serve as an assistant pastor. My favorite phrase is, “Let’s ask the pastor.” I enjoy serving alongside our pastor, serving and supporting him in any way I can. Part of my role, I think, is to serve as an advocate for the pastor. Partially by my example. Reminding the church to appreciate the pastor and to submit to his leadership – for the good of the body.

As far as I know, our pastor has not earned any gold medals. But he is running the race that God has set for Him and, because of Christ, has every right to expect victory.


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Kidman Family Blessings said...

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googleman said...

Pardon me for missing the point, but since I’ve just attended a few Covenant marriage Seminars, I’m inclined to think more positively. My answer is neither yes nor no, but whichever is the most peaceful method.