The Gospel message is that through his Incarnation, ministry, death on the cross, and resurrection, Jesus Christ has secured and begun the process of reconciliation. He reconciles us to God, us to each other, and us to our own selves. These vertical, horizontal, and internal healings progress together; they must, this is a theological commitment.
What this reconciliation looks like is justice, ethical treatment of all people and situations. What this reconciliation feels like is love, an ever deepening affection toward God, toward everyone around us, toward ourselves. (Only by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit can we truly come to love ourselves.)
Leadership is one aspect of our life together as people being reconciled in each of these three directions. True leaders in the church are nothing more or less than those who have gone some way forward in this experience of triple reconciliation and are thus able to assist the Holy Spirit in the Spirit’s single quest of helping people begin and carry on this life-long process. True church leaders also attend to various logistical matters but always carry out those tasks in service to this overarching work of triple reconciliation.
When we lose sight of reconciliation as our one true work and calling, we cease serving the Spirit’s mission and wind up undoing the work of reconciliation and fighting against the Spirit. Sadly, this is the most apt description for much that passes off as ministry. But the Gospel still beckons us into life and wholeness. The story of our Christ still invites to come and die to sin and self be resurrected to new life for Christ, for each other, for our truest selves.
A useful litmus test for church leaders: how does ___________ contribute to reconciling the people we serve to God, to each other, to themselves? If we can’t provide an adequate, specific answer, then ___________ may be either a waste of time/energy/resources, or worse, it might even be harmful to the Spirit’s mission. When we can provide a good answer, we can be more confident that what we’re doing is actually kingdom work.