First, here is James 3:1
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
2For we all stumble in many ways If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
3Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.
4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.
5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.
8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
11Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
12Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. Wisdom from Above
13Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
15This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
18And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
I know: this passage is intense. The thing that has been grabbing me by the throat for the last 10 years is that first verse: "Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment."
I've worked with many leaders over the past few years. I have had more fun, learned more than I could have imagined, been more heartbroken and disillusioned, and have gotten more healing and inspiration, than I could have ever imagined by being in positions of leadership-- both recognized "leadership" and functional leadership.
But, in a world where many things blow my mind, one of the biggest mind blowers of all is how quickly people run toward leadership without heeding constant warning from the word-- Matthew 18:6 says that it would be better for us to be dead than to stumble one of "these little ones who believe in Me." There are constant warnings for those who choose to say yes to any kind of leadership: live your life in such a way that no one can question your actions. Do your best to steer clear of sin. Cleave as close to Christ as you can get.
I can't tell you how many people, especially during my time at Agnes Scott, have talked to me about their aversion to the church primarily because of the examples of our leaders. As believers, we've all had that conversation with someone. Personal responsibility aside (it is ultimately the individual's choice for Christ or not), Jesus was very clear about OUR role-- as far as it concerns US, do not be the reason anyone avoids Him. Do not be the stumbling block, do not be the teacher who misrepresents the word, do not be the leader who says, "Listen to what I say, look at what I'm pointing out in the word," and then lives as if he has never read it himself-- looking in a mirror and forgetting his own image the minute he walks away (James 1:23).
I'm concerned with how much blood is on our hands, as the body of Christ. How many unfit or immature leaders we have installed in positions of influence-- their blood and the blood of those who were following them trails behind them. YES, God is a God of redemption-- my life is sound proof of that-- but we wonder why our battle skills within the body are so flimsy? We wonder why there is so much sin and hypocrisy among us? A cold reality at this moment is that we are not following the dicatates of the word when it comes to leadership-- we are not heading His clear warnings. We do not know the Word. We fill empty positions because they need to be filled; we procure people with talent but no heart; we buy entertainers and compelling speakers with no depth. We tickle itching ears with the things they want to hear and wonder why sin abounds in our very midst.
Sigh. I'm not addressing anyone in particular. I had a dream that bothered me and got me to thinking.... And every few months, I think of the most recent leader I worked with who bit the dust, and I wonder where WE went wrong-- how we were accomplices to his failure. And, as a teacher, I am compelled to never let it happen again on my watch.
Maranatha, Lord-- come quickly. Oh, how we need you in this place.
And how grateful we are that you are full of mercy!!