Today’s post was written by Chris Logan, Pastor of Worship Arts at Community Covenant Church in Lenexa, KS.
So in the last few weeks I’ve had two weekends where I was sick on Sunday. Now, the first weekend was, in fact, Easter. I woke up Easter morning feeling absolutely AWFUL; dizzy, nauseous, cramped stomach, and a few other things I won’t mention. But it was Easter – EASTER – the one sunday (aside from perhaps Christmas) when a pastor of worship absolutely HAS to be at work, no compromises, a you’d-better-be-dead-or-at-least-severely-wounded-and-maybe-bleeding-out-to-not-show-up sort of situation (at least, that’s how it works in my head). And it was a really rough Sunday for me; with only a banana for breakfast (nothing else would stay down), I managed (by the grace of God) to lead all three gatherings and even convince most people there that nothing was wrong (except for my worship team, who kept a pretty close eye on me through our second and third gatherings; there’s no fooling them). I went home and slept, and two days later felt well enough to play with my kids again.
Then two weeks later it happened again. I woke up with stomach cramps, dizziness, and vertigo. This time though, I wasn’t sure there was anything that could convince me to get up and face the symptoms. At 6am I tried to get up: FAIL. At 7am my wife rolled over and (trying to not sound panicky, I’m pretty sure) asked if I was going to actually go to work today, since it was, you know, Sunday. I couldn’t answer straight. About half an hour later, she finally grabbed my phone and said “ok Chris, time to start making some phone calls.” She called our senior pastor and several other key leaders who would have to figure out how to improvise the morning without me (to their credit, nobody panicked for that long after she told them).
Now, I watched the recordings of both gatherings – Easter and this other week – and to be honest, it’s tough to really see that much of a difference between them. In one, I’m on stage and looking pretty pale, but otherwise the gathering flowed very nicely, the music went well, people were able to worship. In the other, I’m not on stage, but again, the gathering flowed well, the music happened with excellence, and people were able to worship.
And I have to be honest: the narcissist in me really doesn’t like this.
There should’ve been a difference, right? People should be able to tell when I’m not there by things falling apart. I shouldn’t be able to get sick because then Sunday couldn’t happen, right? Because Pastors should be superhuman, imbued with the healing power of God to fight off virus and bacteria and broken bones alike, so that Sunday can happen … right? I should not be replaceable! I should be the one people depend on …
Except, what if God wants me to depend on Him?
I have to weekly remind myself that this isn’t about me, that my position as a leader is more about allowing God to use me as a conduit for His work than it is about doing the work myself. And because God can do that with whomever he chooses, it seems as though I don’t get to be superhuman. I’ll still get sick, I’ll still get hurt, and there will be Sundays (or rehearsals or key meetings or whatever) that I’ll miss because my body isn’t up to the task.
It turns out, I’m not an essential.
And it’s ok.
Now, I want to be careful not to overwrite this train of thought, because as leaders, we’re prone to two different directions, either that we feel we’re totally essential, OR we beat ourselves up for our weaknesses and get it in our head that there’s surely somebody else better. Usually it’s the first, but there are plenty of people I know who flipflop between the two (myself included). The chances are that yes, there is somebody else who could do it better; I imagine that David Crowder could probably kick my butt on stage with only one hand on his guitar. But people like that are not here;
God put you in this place, for this time, and it’s out of His strength that you are to lead. Always out of His strength.
The best leaders know they’re not perfect, and so they invite people to join a team around them to form a support network, to make up for each others’ weaknesses, even to pick up the pieces if need be. The best leaders know that while they’re necessary, they’re not essential, and are even comforted by this fact. The best leaders know that they’re better together.
So lead in the full confidence that God has placed in you, but always with the humility that is required of being enabled out of God’s grace rather than your own strength.
Three questions for you today:
1. How does God remind you to focus on Him and not on your own strength?
2. Are you part of a team, or are you the one people depend on (recognizing that a team might not be all paid staff)?
3. What people have you brought around you, knowing that you might have to depend on others in a time of weakness or illness? Are there volunteers or other staff who can take your yoke when you’re unable to lift it? Are there systems in place to account for the eventuality of a time you’re not able to lead?