By Katie Pearson
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
As servant leaders in the household of God, we are called to meet the needs of those we lead, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Many of us enjoy solving problems and protecting people from pain. That’s a good thing. However, even if we have abundant resources in terms of skills, patience, time, or money, excellent leadership is more about pointing people to Christ than helping them feel better in the moment. It’s a fine line.
Paul makes it abundantly clear that our immediate families and our spiritual families require our love and devotion, as well as our attention and sacrifice. That said, we must use discernment in determining what helps others and what holds people back from growing into their full potential in Christ. Unless we uphold our higher calling to develop mature disciples, it’s easy to fall into “rescuing” rather than empowering with the resources available through the Holy Spirit. Rescuing looks good and feels good because we often see immediate results. But when we fail to remind those we lead that they, too, are responsible for themselves robs them from realizing their potential, destroys their relationships, and thwarts their calling.
Plenty of people will try to take advantage of you and the church. Many of us know some people with a spirit of entitlement, or others who choose to be lazy. Paul isn’t referring to repeatedly saving people from the consequences of bad decisions or behavior. Like the prodigal son in Luke, we allow others to make choices but always celebrate their return with joy and grace. Discerning the difference between real needs and felt needs is critical if our goal is to help others grow in their faith.
Where is God calling you to serve today? Whether you receive a phone call from a friend in crisis, your teenager gets fired from her part-time job, or your mentee keeps missing coffee dates—pause and pray. Before rushing in with all the answers, take a moment to ask the Lord for his perspective. What response will serve the individual’s faith and future? We don’t have all the answers, and we can’t prevent our loved ones from experiencing hardship, loss, or suffering. But we can provide the comfort of our care and seek the divine wisdom that reminds them of our all-knowing, ever-loving heavenly Father.
Reflection: Consider a time when suffering the consequences of your own poor decisions resulted in growing closer to God. What else changed in your life as a result? Perhaps pull out a journal and thank God for how he allowed you to experience discomfort for the sake of becoming more like Jesus. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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