Lionel at “The Gospel in 3-D” has written an excellent post called “The Church As Family: How Church Leadership is Affected By How You View The Church.” Lionel says that if we view the church as a family, it will affect how we treat one another, and it will affect how we view leadership among the church. He presents a wonderful illustration using his relationship with his nephew:
I remember my grandmother raising my nephew and I was like his big brother. We were both adopted and I was given the responsibility to helping with potty training, feeding him, carrying him, changing him, talking him for walks, playing with him in the park, and protecting him from harm, I was also given some delegated discipling power; however, the real discipline rested in the hands of the only authority in the house, my grandmother…
As I got older my nephew got older. I stopped taking him to the restroom because he could go by himself, I stopped reading to him because he had learned to read on his own, I stopped taking him to the park because he was big enough to ride his bike and protect himself, I stopped walking him to the school bus, I stopped picking out his clothes, I even became less involved in his decision making. Day by day, he matured and my role became less involved. Day by day, I saw him grow up into maturity and my influence became more of an example and less hands on…
I wonder if I were still putting diapers on my 19 year old nephew what people would think. I wonder if people saw me rocking him to sleep today, what they would think, I wonder if I brushed his teeth for him tonight what others would think?
I think this is exactly how more mature believers should help less mature believers walk with Christ. I’m guessing that while Lionel’s nephew was growing, there were times when Lionel allows his nephew to do some things by himself that Lionel could have done better. I’m assuming that there were times when Lionel’s nephew made mistakes that Lionel himself would not have made. But, this was all necessary for the nephew to grow and mature.
In the same way, mature believers need to allow less mature believers to do or say things that the more mature believers may have done or said better. Less mature believers need to be given room to make mistakes. This is the way growth happens. If this is not allowed, then those less mature believers will not mature.
Instead, leaders will always be brushing their teeth for them. But, unfortunately, I think this is what many within the church expect today.