The Service of Leading
by Burk Parsons
Good music is hard to find these days. In fact, I would argue, most of what we hear today isn’t music at all, it’s just synthesized noise with a beat. Good music, however, takes time to produce. It takes talented musicians who are able not only to play their instruments well but are able to play in harmony with other instrumentalists. Several years ago I had the opportunity to hear the complete oratorio of George Frederick Handel’s Messiah. The chorus and orchestra were impeccable, and after the final “amen,” the thousands who packed the large hall rose to their feet with thundering applause. Then, as is customary, the conductor turned, faced the audience, and took a bow. As he faced the audience, I noticed his facial expression. His demeanor expressed a great deal about his role as the conductor. His countenance suggested the sense of accomplishment he felt. Yet, as he turned his body, offering the applause to the hundreds of members of the orchestra and chorus, his expression seemed to show his sincere humility in leading the great ensemble.
In an orchestra, there are differing instruments, and there are various levels of talent. The conductor is not responsible for providing the level of talent that each instrumentalist possesses, nor does he assign each person with the particular qualities required to play his instrument properly. Nevertheless, it is the conductor’s responsibility to train the entire orchestra so that, in the end, when it is time to perform, the orchestra will be in perfect harmony.
In His eternal wisdom, God has given each of us gifts according to His good purpose. To pastors, He has given the responsibility of equipping the saints. And while every pastor should consider his calling a noble one (1 Tim. 3:1), he must always remember that God has gifted every member of the church to fulfill a particular role. As the appointed shepherd of Christ’s flock, the pastor is called to bow before the throne of Christ in humility, knowing that in his service of leading, accomplishment only comes by living coram Deo, before the face of God, serving Christ and equipping the body of Christ for service so that by speaking the truth in love, the body will “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:15–16).