It can be hard to find good role models these days. Often the people who are famous and the first to promote themselves as the ones we should be following are the last people on Earth we should be following. The world has no shortage of role models and leaders who are leading us astray.
Unfortunately, this is not only true of leaders in politics and entertainment, it is far too often true of Christian leaders as well. Celebrity culture has made itself at home in the church, and some of the people who rise to the top of Christian organisations and mega churches and TV ministries and yes, even regular local churches, get there for all the wrong reasons. They have charisma, but lack character, they have business savvy, but lack integrity. Maybe that’s why so many Christian leaders fall in scandal and shame—they never should have been there in the first place. They were good at building organisations and personal fame, but they were bad at living like a Christian. In their ministries they made disciples, but not disciples of Christ—they made disciples of themselves, teaching others to look at them and compromise for them instead of looking to Christ in trust and obedience. We need better role models for the church, but how do we find them?
We could start by honouring the right things. There are plenty of faithful servants out there quietly serving Christ and others, but we miss them far too often, probably because they aren’t drawing attention to themselves. They’re putting the spotlight on others, not standing in it, and we’d all be better off not taking these kind of people and their selfless service for granted. Paul told the Philippian church to honour and imitate them*, and we’d be wise to listen to him.
I wonder how different many large (and small) churches and ministries would look if they stopped honouring and promoting charisma, talent and external success and started looking for and honouring Christ-like humility, character, integrity, and self-sacrifice for the sake of others?
We’d probably have fewer scandals, anyway.
*this blog post is taken from a sermon on Philippians 2:19-30