Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Filling Slots

One of the temptations for any organization, including Christian organizations, is seeing people as a means to accomplish the organization's purposes. But in the Christian church, the organization is intended to further the growth of the members in relation to their Head, which is Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 1:28,29; 2:19). Now this does, of course, involve inviting those on the outside into the body so they too can be properly related to the Head (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15). But we can fall into the error of doing things to further the organization, rather than building up people. What is worse, organizations can do things that do not even further the organization, but perpetuate what has been done in the past, or do things because individuals in leadership favor them. Also, this is seldom a choice between what is incontestably good and what is undoubtedly a waste of time. It is often a question of what is the best thing to do at the time.

Therefore we need to beware of twisting people's arms to do things simply to fill a niche in the organization. Even if the job is needed, we should resist putting someone in that position who is not the person who really belongs there. We need to trust God that He is the one in charge of the situation and will provide what is needed (Matthew 16:18; Psalms 127:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6). Now doing this does not mean you will necessarily have your slot immediately filled. You may have to find a temporary fix. You may have to reorganize your organizational structure. You may even need to dump a program altogether if there is no one to fill it. We also need to give careful consideration to what we are involved in. I believe there is a time to decide to help out and stretch yourself to try things you have never tried before. But you should not force yourself to take a position out of a sense of guilt just because the position needs to be filled. And you may need to back down if you find yourself in the wrong place. And leaders must be willing to let people step down if needed. And most difficult of all, the question needs to asked whether even functioning programs are really accomplishing God's purposes in the lives of His people. This can be hard, because there are frequently people who are invested in these programs. And the leader needs to take care not to dismiss too easily something that is valuable. But the question needs to be asked.

The Bible teaches us that we are each individual parts of the body, with our own particular function ( 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10,11). We need to find each person their appropriate place of ministry. In this, I believe, we can consider legitimate need, but it cannot be the only issue. And we must make sure that the organization serves the people and not the people the organization.

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