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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
(Part 8)

SERVING AS A TEAM


In CFC-FFL, we serve as a team, from the Servant General down to the Household Servants.

Our pastoral-organizational structure, characterized by a pyramidal structure of leadership and the subdivision of the whole community into groups and sub-groups, can be traced to the time of Moses.

After the exodus from Egypt and before they arrived in Sinai, where God entered into covenant with them, after experiencing much grumbling from the people right after God had miraculously freed them through Moses from centuries of slavery1, Moses was given some sound advice by his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro told him to group the whole people into smaller sub-groups, into “groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” (Ex 18:21b).

Such today is our community pastoral-organizational structure.

“tens” - a household of 5 couples2
“fifties” - a unit of 5 households3
“hundreds”4 - a chapter of 5 units
“thousands” - a district of many clusters and chapters5

The purpose of the structure

What is the purpose of such a structure of pastoral leadership? Jethro advised: “Enlighten them in regard to the decisions and regulations, showing them how they are to live and what they are to do.” (Ex 18:20).

Leaders are to inform, educate and help form members in the ways and means of community life, culture and service. For us in CFC-FFL, this is about our life and mission in Jesus. We enlighten brethren regarding our Covenant, our Core Values, our ways of relating with one another, how to live our marriage and family lives, how to build the Church of the Home and the Church of the Poor, how to give of ourselves in service, and so on. We teach them “what they are to do,” that is, to be obedient to God. We are to teach them “how they are to live,” that is, to be holy.

Further, the structure is designed to enhance our transformation in Christ. Moses said, “The people come to me to consult God.” (Ex 18:15). We are primarily concerned about each member’s relationship with God. It is the leadership at each level that helps feed members. As members start to mature, they go up the pastoral ladder and are given more mature leaders who can continue to help them in their spirituality.

Moses further said, “Whenever they have a disagreement, they come to me to have me settle the matter between them and make known to them God’s decisions and regulations.” (Ex 18:16). Peace and unity in community is crucial. But because of people’s sinfulness, there will always be disagreements that can lead to strife and division. Leaders help resolve these by making known God’s ways and showing how differences are resolved in the Lord.

Serving as a team

Why is it necessary to subdivide the community into such sub-groups?

As the community grows in number, the task becomes too heavy for one man or a few leaders. “You will surely wear yourself out, and not only yourself but also those people with you. The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” (Ex 18:18). When the task is too heavy, people are not all properly attended to. Jethro gave his criticism to Moses, “Why do you sit alone while all the people have to stand about you from morning till evening?” (Ex 18:14b). The result is a failure in adequately tending to the flock. Both the overburdened leader and the under-cared for people suffer.

This is especially true with caring for people who grumble, which inevitably many of us do. As the number of Israelites grew, Moses said, “But how can I alone bear the crushing burden that you are, along with your bickering?” (Dt 1:12). When things are going great, there is not much pressure or burden for leaders. But the world, the flesh and the devil conspire to ensure that things will not go great all the time. Then bickering can cause a really heavy burden.

So different servant leaders at different levels have different functions. The basic purpose remains the same, that is, to help brethren be more deeply transformed in Christ, but there is a sharing of work, a team effort, to accomplish this. “They rendered decisions for the people in all ordinary cases. The more difficult cases they referred to Moses, but all the lesser cases they settled themselves.” (Ex 18:26).

When the pastoral-organizational structure is working well, then the community is well poised to do the mission God assigns it. “If you do this, when God gives you orders you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (Ex 18:23). The heavy burden will be shared, both leaders and people will not be worn out, everyone will be satisfied, and community is able to carry out its mission.

Choosing servant leaders

How are servant leaders to be chosen?

Jethro gives four basic qualifications. “But you should also look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain” (Ex 18:21a).
First, servant leaders are able. This means that they are “technically” competent for the task. Since this is spiritual work, this means they are growing in their own spirituality, ahead of those whom they are caring for, so that they have something to give. Moses expounds: “So I took outstanding men of your tribes, wise and experienced, and made them your leaders as officials over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties and over tens, and other tribal officers. ” (Dt 1:15). They have the human intelligence to understand teachings and our ways, but more especially they manifest wisdom that is from on high. They are experienced not in the sense of having already done the task assigned to them, but in what they have learned as they moved up the pastoral ladder, as they grew in spirituality and service. They are outstanding in the sense that they stand out among their peers, from among whom they are chosen.

Second, servant leaders are God-fearing. They have a personal relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord, they are obedient to God, and they live their lives and conduct their service under the inspiration and strength of the Holy Spirit. They are striving to live righteous lives, and desire to be holy as God is holy. They are living out their family lives according to God’s ways.

Third, servant leaders are trustworthy. They have been entrusted with the pastoral care of the flock, and desire to do their task willingly and not grudgingly. They will work without having to be pushed, without their overseers looking over their shoulders, with initiative and enthusiasm. They are loyal to God and to community, and will not betray their Covenant and our Core Values.

Fourth, servant leaders hate dishonest gain. They are not in this for money, power, prestige, position or acclamation. Their single desire is to please God and to serve His people. They live lives of integrity. They will not move up in pastoral leadership through deception, lies and half-truths, through being a toady, or through power politics. They will never deprive God of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him alone.

The task at hand

CFC-FFL has been raised by God to do His work in this third millennium. We are to renew the family and to defend life. This is an awesome task, befitting an awesome God. We are mere instruments, but how we respond will determine how we will experience the anointing and power of God.

God has built a large army that will grow larger still. For peace, order and unity, God has given us our pastoral-organizational structure, and our call as servant leaders. We will do well to make such a structure work.

Let us listen to what Jethro has taught us, and what Moses has demonstrated to us.

“Now, listen to me, and I will give you some advice,
that God may be with you.”
(Exodus 18:19a)

“May the Lord, the God of your fathers,
increase you a thousand times over,
and bless you as he promised!”
(Deuteronomy 1:11)


April 17, 2009


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On Servant Leadership (Part 8) [PDF]
 
 
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