I finished up the book Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias. In the final chapter a couple great paragraphs reflect the need for our modeling the truth both in our public lives and in our private lives:
“After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, “My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all.” He paused and then continued, “Do you know what she said?” Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. “She said, ‘That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.'” (p 304)
“This call to a life reflecting the person of Christ is the ultimate call of everyone who wishes to do apologetics because of the snare of argument and its overriding appeal that suppresses the devotional side of truth. This applies especially to leadership within the church. If the shepherd is not living the way he should, how can the ones shepherded follow the right path?” (p 305)
I have written about this topic in the past, but that last sentence, “If the shepherd is not living the way he should, how can the ones shepherded follow the right path?” really struck a chord within me. Not just because of the moral implications of a right living both in private and in public (as what we do in private eventually seeps out into the public), but because of the shepherding aspect.
As a person in any kind of leadership role within the church – from behind the scenes to behind the pulpit – can we really expect people to live normal and active Christian lives if we are not doing so? Can we expect people to share the gospel if we do not model it ourselves? Can we expect others to labor to disciple and mentor others if we are not actively doing so?
I am not calling for those in leadership to be “all-inclusive” workers – we are part of the body of Christ and a priesthood of believers after all. But we (myself definitely included) must be careful not to excuse away inactivity and laziness in the realms of moral living, the gospel, and discipleship with pseudo-spiritual wording like, “It’s not my gift”, or “I am called to preach/sing/[enter your service here], not labor like that”.
Paul’s words, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) strikes a sobering note when thinking on Ravi Zacharias’ words. If as leaders we allow ourselves to become lazy in our love and labor for the Lord those whom we lead will soon imitate us in this unhealthy habit. I pray for myself and all others in any kind of leadership role within Christ’s church that if in any area of our life & labor we have slipped into laziness that the brakes would be put on and a fire would be rekindled so that we do not just speak the truth but also model it privately and publicly.