Resilient Love, Men’s Ministry and Leadership
I recently finished studying through 2 Corinthians. It was a thrilling experience, giving me a backstage VIP pass into the life of pastoral ministry and leadership.
Truth be told, it gave me a window into the reality of any and all discipleship. This church letter is filled with an abundance of pain, discouragement, disappointment, disillusionment, depression, despair, weakness, and woe. I would have just quit! I don’t know if I have the resiliency that would have kept me at such a difficult task as pastoring this community.
Something compelling is driving this leadership team. The Apostle Paul and his teammates, Timothy and Titus, keep coming back, keep showing up, and keep working with this group of believers despite all of their flaws, failing, and fumbling.
What is this almost magical force that motivates these men to return to the place of pain? What inspires these leaders to serve and care and remain loyal to a group of people who show no loyalty to them? The answer is revealed in the text for all of us to see. It is love.
For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. 2 Cor 2:4
Leaders Love Without Limits
Men, when it comes to leadership, ministry, and discipling others, this was my take-away from following Paul through 2 Corinthians: Give your hearts away entirely. Leaders love without limits.
Elders, deacons, men’s ministry leaders – can I encourage you to enter into love? It is time for a new type of church leader to emerge. It is time for leaders who are not driven by a desire for fame, platform, and glory. It is time for leaders who are compelled by the love of Christ to love and shepherd sinful people in the grace and love of God.
Pondering my way through 2 Corinthians as an apprentice of Pastor Paul, I kept asking myself the question: What is a pastor? My conclusion: A pastor is someone who shoulders the burden for transformation in the local church’s life.
If this is true, then maybe a few more of us need to consider ourselves as pastors in our local context. I almost fell off my seat when I read Paul’s conclusion to his ministry suffering. After detailing his abuse, beatings, isolation, and pain, he then compares this burden to the concern that he carries for his churches.
Let me say that again. Paul has been cold, hungry, and hurting but, at the same time, has had the heavy burden of shaping and forming Christ in communities of faith – the burden of a pastor.
One more time just to let the point sink in. Just as Paul feels the physical pain of an empty stomach and a bruised and battered body, he feels the pain of a broken church in need of grace and transformation. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Cor 11:28)
The work of the pastor is a dangerous, soul-bruising business of love.
Paul’s Guide For How To Love Without Limits
A friend recently challenged me, “You might be growing in your Bible knowledge, but are you growing in your Bible obedience?”
If I were to discern a leader’s response to 2 Corinthians and explore obedience steps, I would not need to do too much heavy lifting in hermeneutics. The author spells it out for us in terms that are easily transitional and translatable to our current time. Paul’s conclusion seems like the perfect and practical place to start. His hope for his churches become our hope for our churches:
Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Cor 13:11)
Pastors, Elders, Leaders, Men:
- Strive for full restoration
Let’s work hard to nurture healthy, reconciled, and restored relationships. Resist the temptation to be divisive, but rather, share a vision of a vibrant, loving community. It takes love to work through our hurts and hang-ups and to stand together.
- Encourage one another
Let us be intentional about creating a culture of encouragement. We do this one man at a time. Imagine a church where all brothers see their calling to be a minister of courage – supporting, challenging, and standing with other brothers. It takes love to give rather than receive.
- Be of one mind
Let’s stay focused. Lot’s of things vie for our attention in church and ministry life. Brothers, let’s do life together with a posture of surrendering all of our own personal agendas and seek to find alignment together in the place of purpose. A church where the men share one mind is a powerful gospel vehicle. It takes love to lay down our own plans.
- Live in peace
Let us apply our passion and masculinity with maturity and sensitivity. We can be men of peace and still be men! Living in harmony is about knowing when and where the battles belong. This takes wisdom; it takes love. Let us choose our battles carefully. Seek to bring restoration where and when we can and find our way back to one mind. This is the way of peace. This is the way of love.