Despite all the tools, ideas and skill you have, you cannot create a team, community, or church that bears with each other in love. In fact, I can guarantee there will be awkwardness, empty promises, lies, disappointments, and mini disasters. Despite all of your attempts to clarify the gospel and the implication that we ought to love one another, the people you lead will not.
Your team, more often than not, will feel like it is only a few steps away from falling apart. Succumbing to the desires of our flesh to be the most significant, most comfortable, or most independent. Even as Jesus uttered the command to love one-another to his disciples, they harbored bitterness, fear, greed, and self-righteousness. If we can’t make people love each other, what do we do?
This disappointment often brings out the hero complex in leaders. As they help shape a team and begin to watch people grow in caring for one another, they are tempted to be the martyr-hero in each persons’ story by themselves. “If they wont love each other, I will each of them alone”. As things go poorly for different members or the whole, this leader rushes to solve things. They force conflict resolution meetings, interventions, and tell people what to do next. When things still go poorly, they blame themselves. All the while they’ve lost sight of the Christ who called them to community or to each other for mission. They neglect the Savior who forms community. They forget they are a disciple of Jesus and they’ve abandoned the journey of discipleship Christ by making disciples of themselves.
Other leaders approach this disappointment by looking for new recruits. They look at the chaos of their community, team, or church and conclude: “If only I had some serious radical Christians this would work. These people just don’t get it.” However, in the words of Eugene Peterson: “There are no green beret Christians.” While you covet people who “get it,” God has given you a few sorry saints to simply love—not control and not to dismiss, but to love the way Jesus loved his disciples.
The people we lead are a mess and so are we. Their disfunction is ours. It is telling that the same night Jesus gave the disciples to love-another, he inaugurated communion. He held up the bread and the wine saying: “This is my body and my blood giving for you.” This is the foundation.
Leaders, don’t miss out on the transformative joy of growing in love for your fellow brother or sister under the passion, love, and grace of Jesus himself. How do you see yourself as a disciple of Jesus among disciples of Jesus? How do you receive His love through them?
Our communities, churches, and teams are usually less messy and more holy than we believe. We typically fixate on fixing the weakness without glorifying God in our weaknesses.