After I had told my priest that I was thinking about seminary, he put me in the altar. He thought that this would be good experience if I was considering the priesthood.
It so happened that I was helping my priest at the Agape Vespers when he noticed that one of the young teenagers wasn’t acting appropriately for church.
Since he couldn’t leave the altar, he quickly called me to himself and said, “See that person over there? Please tell them how to act appropriately.” He then motioned to a young teenager sitting in the front pew.
It was clear what the problem was—I’ll spare you the details so as to not embarrass anyone—but, like a lot of people, I was weary of confrontation. After all, that person wasn’t bothering me! Plus, I didn’t want to cause a scene, or create any hard feelings between me and the parents.
The best case scenario, I figured, was that the young person would probably be embarrassed by being called out in front of the entire congregation. The worst case scenario? We could have a complete meltdown on our hands.
In, the end, I spoke to that young teenager, who quickly corrected their behavior and that was that.
Despite my dread, I had kissed the priest’s hand and accepted his blessing when I had asked to serve. So, I was under his authority … willingly. It was up to me to carry the instructions he had given me.
As Christians, we are all under an authority … that of Christ, who is revealed to us through scripture. We willingly died to ourselves and “put on Christ” in our baptisms and, so, we are in his house. Jesus is our Lord.
To lead, we have an obligation to be loyal to the one in whose house we dwell.
The Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative has given us some steps to help us become more Christ-like in the way we lead.
You’ll recall that the first step is to learn our Bible. If we don’t read our Bible, how can we know what God is asking of us? After all, it’s the instruction book for life.
The second step, once we’ve become biblically literate, is to cultivate a watchfulness of our conduct and motivations. Do they match the example given to us by scripture? If not, what do we need to change in our lives?
The third step, the one we’re going to talk about today is learning to lead as one under authority.
As Christians, we’re under the authority of Christ and the instruction, or dare I say, “obligation,” to walk the Way as given to us by scripture.
Yes, we’ve been freed from sin and evil. Yes, when Christ trampled down death by death, we were redeemed from slavery to death. But, as one of my professors used to say, this doesn’t mean that we’re free to do as we wish.
Our freedom from sin and death means that we’ve been liberated from one master so that we can serve another one: Jesus Christ, whom we call “Lord.”
Even St. Paul begins his letters by reminding his readers that his is a “slave” of Jesus Christ. If Paul is a slave of our Lord, then so are we.
The difference between serving death and Christ is that Christ is merciful and gives us life. His proclamation is the good news.
But, Paul wasn’t the only one under authority in scripture. Even the prophets with their glorious prophecies were under authority. Instead of saying what they wanted, they were obligated to say the words put into their mouths by God.
- Isaiah: a cleansing coal touches his lips. Then, after asking God to “send him,” he’s given the words to say (Is 6)
- Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you … I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then the Lord touches Jeremiah’s lips and gives him the words to say. (Jer 1)
- Ezekiel: after having a vision of God’s chariot, God makes him eat the scroll so that he has the words of prophecy against Israel (Ez 1-3)
Each of these prophets was called to lead. But, it wasn’t haphazard. It was servant leadership that was under the authority of the word given to them by Christ.
Remember God’s word leads to life. It leads to blessings.
I encourage you all to check the website of the Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative (click here). You'll be glad you did!
What is The Way?
Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.