IS THIS STORY JUST FOR US?
"Peter said, 'Master, are you telling this story just for us? Or is it for everybody?' The Master said, 'Let me ask you; who is the dependable manager, full of common sense, that the master puts in charge of his staff, to feed them well and on time? He is a blessed man if, when the master shows up, he's doing his job.'" Luke 12:41-44 (The Message).
Jesus did not give Peter a direct answer. The disciples were left to figure out for themselves whether they either were or wanted to fit the description. The word we love to use, Christian, is never a title. It is a function, just as the subtitles in this category of Christian are functions; words like elder, deacon, bishop, apostle, prophet, reverend, etc. Christian leaders love these titles because they tend to raise them above the crowd.
Jesus had issues with this attitude because it took away from the humility of the function and placed the focus on the elevated status of the person. On one occasion He taught His disciples that they should never allow themselves to be called 'Father'. A title may give a person prestige in the eyes of people but it adds nothing to the person in the eyes of God.
What is God looking for in His people? He looking for people who will fulfill the function of the title we love to wear. 'Why do you call me 'Lord' and do not do what I say?' He asked them. Even calling Jesus 'Lord' is useless if our behaviour does not measure up to our confession.
So what is the point of Jesus' reply? In the context of this entire chapter of Luke's Gospel, He is talking about what we as His followers do to imitate Him in the way we treat the people entrusted to us. It may be within our family circle or much farther afield, depending on our sphere of responsibility. It does not matter what our circumstances are, He is looking for faithfulness to our task during His absence. And what is our task? To take care of those entrusted to us until He returns.
In the context of this discussion, the question is: How are we carrying out our function as managers of the property and people He has entrusted to us to care for during His absence? In whatever capacity we function in the body of Christ, leaders have been put into managerial positions, not to lord it over the people, but to take responsibility for their wellbeing in every way until the Master comes to claim His possessions.
"Be shepherds of God's flock that are under your care, serving as overseers - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:2,3 (NIV).
It is sad that today many so-called 'Christian' leaders are manipulating God's people into 'sowing' their livelihood through guilt, fear or false promises, even to the point where they promise that, for every unit of money the people give, a soul will be saved! Have we gone back to the same outrageous preaching that triggered the Reformation six centuries ago? Do we have resurrected 'John Tetzels' peddling indulgences to swell the coffers of their churches?
This is not God's way. Leaders are "men who must give account," Hebrews 13:17b (NIV). Our leadership is both a privilege and a responsibility - and we are to carry it faithfully and patiently until the Master returns.
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