Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
People who watch politics will tell you that the political climate in our country is getting much more combative, nasty even! For example, if you have an 8-year memory, just think how we have been through a pendulum of political blaming. A little over eight years ago the news media talked about how bad a president George W. Bush was . . . in their opinion. But, as soon as he took office, Barak Obama became the villain. Now, Donald Trump seems to be ‘public enemy number one’ for many people. I’m not saying any of these men were perfect. Neither am I saying that people cannot have political opinions. However, no matter what a leader does, there are always people who are willing to complain and criticize. People often criticize in personal ways. This criticism is becoming more and more harsh in our culture.
I use these obvious political examples to tell you that being a leader has never been easy, but leading seems more difficult today than in previous decades. Consider the decline in respect for teachers, for doctors, for police and other public officials.
Perhaps surprisingly, even leading God’s people has always had its trials. Look at Numbers 16 to see just some of the opposition Moses faced as he personally sacrificed to lead the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. Ponder on what happened to the prophets. Most telling, consider our Lord Jesus himself. Time and again, as Jesus was living and dying for others, those same people opposed Him. Consider the opposition Jesus faced in recent Gospel Lessons from our worship services. Jesus received criticism when He healed the blind man in John 9. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11, the religious leaders plotted at the end of the chapter to kill Him. Jesus was also betrayal by one of His own disciples. Opponents lied about Jesus in order to convict Him unjustly. Even on the cross, others taunted Jesus as He hung dying to forgive them. Jesus taught, He served, and He led. But being a leader also makes a person a target. Just look at our Lord!
All these sobering truths, however, also lead to a different thought. When God’s people receive good and faithful leadership, we should offer thanks for those who are willing to take on the burden of leadership. Jesus describes his leadership, not so much as a commanding of others. Jesus led others through His life of service. Listen to Jesus talk about leadership in Matthew 20:25-28. “25 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Since we have seen leaders who have acted selfishly rather than serving others, and since we have seen leaders who have been unfaithful, what a blessing to have a leader who gives of themselves with the good of others in mind. Because leadership is a burden of responsibility for others, it is helpful to realize that good leadership is a gift.
I share these thoughts on leadership so that you can join me in thanking our St. John Director of Christian Education, Jamie Walters, for her faithful, Christian, servant leadership. Jamie came to St. John in 2004 as a DCE intern and continues serving today. During that time Jamie has touched the lives of many youth and children and other members of St. John. In addition, Jamie has not only led and served God’s people at St. John, but she has also served faithfully throughout our region and in our Northwest District.
Because of Jamie’s faithful servant leadership she is being recognized with the Lux Christi (Latin for “Light of Christ”) Award this Sunday, April 2, in worship. You see, others have also realized that Jamie has taken on the difficult mantel of leading through Christian service, even though such service comes with pitfalls. Because of Jamie’s service, all of us at St. John have been blessed.
Jesus told a parable in Matthew 25 about 3 men who were challenged to be good stewards or managers of the gifts of their master. At the end of the parable, the master’s commendation to the faithful servant was, " . . . Well done, good and faithful servant! . . .” (Matthew 25:23) Please join me this Sunday in thanking Jamie for her faithful service in this difficult task of Christian leadership. Thank you Jamie for leading by faith and by service, and for bringing God’s blessings to us.
A Child of God, Thankful for the Service of Faithful Christian Leaders,
P.S. The 2017 St. John Shane Woods Ice Fishing Outing was held last Sunday, March 26. Here are some pictures of this outing. https://goo.gl/photos/EFBUg6ppMDfTMQnw6
P.P.S Then, . . on Monday I went fishing again to a more remote, farther away lake. Here was Monday’s catch.