“Let him do it himself.”
I remember saying that when my boys were younger (and “her” for my girls) and even sometimes today as they transition into adulthood. Kids need to learn to do things that are developmentally appropriate. When we do everything for our kids, we aren’t really serving them. We are handicapping them.
There are times when we need to be helped and there are times when we need to learn to handle things on our own as we depend on Jesus for our strength and guidance. If we never learn to work hard and take personal responsibility, we can’t grow up into adulthood.
In Ephesians 4, Paul instructs the church at Ephesus in a similar fashion. Jesus has given leaders as a gift to the church and they have a specific calling for the good of the whole body. If leaders don’t do what they are called to do, then the body can’t grow into maturity.
Leaders are given to lead and equip.
In Ephesians 4:10-12, we find that Jesus has given gifts to his church in different types of leaders. Some are good at forging new ministry fronts. Others are gifted at sharing the good news of Jesus with those who are not yet Christians. There are different types of leaders because the church needs each of them.
These leaders are to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” This means that the leaders who are good at shepherding God’s people are to equip the saints to shepherd God’s people. The leaders who are gifted at teaching are to equip the saints to teach. Leaders are to equip others to do the work of ministry as they depend on Jesus for strength and guidance. Their work is to equip others to do the work.
Saints are to do the work of ministry.
Leaders are to equip saints to do the work of ministry. “Saints” is a word for those who belong to Jesus. In other words, anyone who is a follower of Jesus is a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2). The word means “set apart ones.” These saints are to be equipped to do the work of ministry in which they are gifted by Jesus.
There are tremendous benefits to saints who embrace this as well as to the church they comprise. Paul tells us that when leaders equip and saints serve, the body is built up in a few ways:
- Unity – v. 13
- Knowledge of Jesus – v. 13
- Likeness to Jesus – v. 13
- Doctrinal Conviction – v. 14
So, when leaders equip and saints serve, everyone grows.
Now, there are certainly churches where this is not practiced. Leaders may think that their role is to do ministry while saints watch. Saints may think that their role is to give money and provide an audience for the leaders to perform their gifts. Here’s what happens in churches like that—no one grows.
At Exodus, we want to be a faithful church where leaders equip saints to serve (vv. 10-12). We want to be a place where each part is working properly (v. 16) so that everyone is growing. We want to be a church filled with equipped saints who know how to handle their responsibilities while depending on Jesus for strength and guidance. Let’s labor to that end.