- And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (I John 1:4 NKJV)
- Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. (II John 1:12 NKJV)
- Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself. Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them? (Hebrews 13:7, 8, 17 MSG)
Notice in the above three Scriptures that joy should be mutual across-the-board whether you are a Christian leader or a Christian congregant. As a Christian leader, there will aways be the good, the bad, and the ugly in a congregation. It’s not so easy for a leader to just get up and move on as it is for a congregant if the circumstances necessitate. Ideally we should always be able to overcome any differences and celebrate a heartfelt joy. But we live in a real world. Sometimes there are differences in personalities between individuals that are not easily reconciled for a long time. This may constitute moving on for a congregant so others are not affected adversely. There may be no sin involved and there may be no good guy / bad guy. There may be just a plain agreeing to disagree. Maybe the vision a leader has is contrary to what a congregant can come in line with. Where it is wrong is when it is a forced reconciliation that does not bring a true joy. Where it is even worse is if the congregant causes discention. This should never be. This definitely warrants a moving on of the congregant. The Scriptures support a separation because of differences and reconciliation later in time if possible. Observe the following three Scriptures:
- Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15:36-41 NKJV)
- Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18 NLT)
- Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11 NLT) Note: 2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter before his martyrdom. There are no longer any problems between Paul and Mark.
Not only are we to try our best to live in peace with everyone, but the reason reconciliation should never be forced, only encouraged, is because Christian leadership is entirely different from Old Testament leadership and worldly leadership. To be sure, the Old Testament portrays Prophets, Priests, Kings and Judges as official authorities. This is because these ‘offices’ stood as shadows of the authoritative ministries of Jesus Christ Himself. Christ is the real Prophet, Priest, King and Judge. But never do we find any church leader described or depicted as an official authority in the New Testament. The Bible never teaches that God has given believers authority (exousia in the Greek) over other believers (see Matthew 20:25-26 and Luke 22:25-26). This is because the church is not a human organization, but a spiritual body. The authority in the church is not official authority like the world has. It is authority that is based on spiritual life. Proper translation of Hebrews 13:7 & 17 can be found in the ‘Message’ translation. The word ‘obey’ (peitho in the Greek) in verse 17 is properly translated ‘allow yourself to be persuaded’ by your leaders. Paul’s epistles throw even further light on the subject. They all resonate with appeals and pleas. They are littered with the language of persuasion.
Attributes of any Christian that make it easy and a true joy for any other Christian to fellowship and work together with can be found in the following Scripture:
Proverbs 22:4 NKJV “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.”
This, in reality, is a question all Christians must ask themself, “Do I portray humility and fear of the Lord in my daily walk and all my endeavors?”