Vol 4:17 Mission and Leading Christ’s Community – Part 13: We are God’s Workmanship

In our community, we are hearing from different persons from within the community as they share on Scriptures which have been transformative in their lives. We are hearing the back stories of these Scriptures, how God has used them in shaping them as the people of God in their journeying with Christ, and we are hearing what God is saying to us today, right now, through these texts. We are hearing God speaking to us through a multi-voiced engagement of Scripture. In this post-Easter season, the pastoral team has made way for others in the community to share, yet there are three Sundays in which we are sharing our own transforming Scripture – this coming Sunday is my opportunity.

One of the Scriptures that has shaped me is Ephesians 2: 8-10, which expresses that “we are God’s workmanship.” For me this expresses that God has made me what I am. This is not to put the blame on God for the character flaws in my life – those are largely due to my being closed to God’s creative work in me, but rather to recognize that what God desires for me to manifest in my life – trust in God, faith, hope, courage to follow, etc., are not so much my work (for when these become my work, they are largely inadequate), but they are God’s work in me.

I remember about 7 years ago, when I was struggling with trusting God, knowing that I needed to trust God, but being unable to muster the ability to trust God, that I confessed and noted to God, “that if God wanted me to be able to trust him, that God would need to give me the ability to trust God – I did not have it in me to adequately trust God.” And God created within me the ability to trust him – something I admit is completely God’s creative doing in me and not my own.

And so I have come to discover that what God desires, or what God requires, God gives. Indeed, “we are God’s workmanship.”

And I believe, we need to realize this even as we seek to lead or pastor the communities God has called us to serve. Too often we make leadership or leading our creative act. We go to seminars, workshops, D.Min. programs in order to develop our skills at leading. Not that these are not helpful, yet they become poor substitutes for receiving God’s creative work in us – for us to become what God desires us to be.

If God gifts us with the gift of leading, rather than it being our work, it must become God’s creative work in us. Now God in being creatively at work in us employs consultants, seminars, workshops, educational programs and the like, we need to acknowledge that it is never our work. In working out our own salvation, it is not so much our work, but opening ourselves to giving space for God, the Spirit of God to be at work in us, and for us to be in a place of receiving God’s work in us.

When we exercise leading as our work and not God’s work in us, our leading can become disastrous – and there are too many examples, of which we are all too aware, even in our own ministries, which attest to the disastrous nature, the violent nature of leading as our own work. Yet, if we regard leading as our work of discipleship, we will more readily realize that we lead, not because of any giftedness of our own, but rather that we are persons yielded to God, to God’s purposes, to God’s mission, to God’s creative work in us, so that God may be glorified, that God’s people may grow in awareness of God, and that somehow we are led by God’s Spirit to participate with God in God’s redemptive mission of re-creating human relationships and the world.

We become more effective in exercising the gift of leading in yielding our lives to be shaped and transformed by the working of God’s Spirit in us, by breathing in God’s Spirit, and finding ways to unfurl our sails to go where the Spirit blows. In this way, leading never becomes our accomplishment, “being a leader” never becomes ours to boast about, but rather, it is the outworking of our obedience to Christ, the outworking of our discipleship as we are open to walk yoked together with Christ and empowered by God’s Spirit in walking alongside, among, and with the people God has called us to serve.

Leading then, as a pursuit, involves more spiritual sensitivity and opening of ourselves, than it does acquiring another set of skills. One way involves leading being our accomplishments, the other regards leading as something that God is creating in us. May we as pastors and “leaders” embrace being ones in whom God is free to work – for us to become God’s workmanship, God’s creation.

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl