In an interview recently, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made a statement that absolutely grabbed me. The statement requires a bit of background, so bear with me. (And the point of this post is not political—this is all leading to a more important point.)
Early in his bid for the Republical nomination, the Gingrich campaign seemed to hit bottom. News media reported that key players of his campaign staff were jumping ship quickly. Most people wrote him off. And yet, over the months, Gingrich stayed in the race and (as of this writing) continues to climb in the polls and to be considered a legitimate contender.
In reference to this moment when his campaign seemed to stall, Gingrich was talking about a fundamental difference he had with his campaign staff and key consultants. They had one type of campaign in mind and he had another. They wanted an aggressive, attack campaign made up of 30-second attack ads. He wanted a positive, solution-orientated campaign made up of 30-minute, inspiring speeches. Just one problem—he was the boss! And it finally came down to a decision to part ways. During the philosophical disagreement, he made this statement to his consultants:
“I would love to have you run MY campaign, but I’m not interested being the candidate for YOUR campaign.”
Whoa! The implications of that statement, when applied to Christian life and ministry, really struck me.
Many Christian leaders are not interested in running Christ’s “campaign”—they are more interested in using Him as the Candidate for their own campaign. The carnal church movement is doing just that. Having abandoned true Biblical discipleship—the “take up your cross” brand of Christianity, they use Christ as the poster-child for a much more man-centered, flesh-satisfying, moderate brand of Christianity. The incessant and insatiable pursuit of relevance, trendiness, and hip ministry; the never-ending thirst to “reinvent church”; the perpetual longing to “appeal” to seekers; and the unrelenting need to somehow mask the “less attractive” aspects of Christ and His ways—it all reveals a deep flaw in the foundation of this movement.
In Revelation chapters 1-3, Jesus makes it clear that He’s not interested in being the candidate for “our campaigns.” He isn’t interested in luke-warm Christianity or church-life where He is required to stand outside the door and knock. But He still calls us to run HIS campaign—to be laborers together with God and to work the work that He left us here to do, indeed, the work that He commissioned us to do. It’s His work, not ours. It’s His agenda, not ours. (Thy will, not my will.) And it should be done His way, not the way we feel is “most effective”, “most attractive”, or “most relevant” to the world. His way is already effective, attractive, and relevant—in transcendent ways—and it doesn’t need to be disguised or reinvented. It needs to be revived and obeyed!
On a more local level, the same could be said of staff members who work to support the vision of a Sr. Pastor. Are you running his “campaign”, or are you merely using him (or his flock) to facilitate your own agenda? We need a revival of team ministry—a renewal of godly leaders who are willing to unite themselves in service together towards a common vision, regardless of who gets the credit, or holds the “Sr.” position.
Time and time again I have been reminded that I’m not to be using Jesus or others as candidates for my own campaign or agenda. I would much rather be a part of something much bigger. I want to expend my life to do Christ’s work, His way—and on a human level, to support the biblical vision of a man I call “Pastor.” What a privilege to be a part of something so much more valuable and eternal than a political campaign. And what a joy to partner with other servant leaders for a cause larger than any one individual or personal agenda.
Don’t get caught up in running your own campaign and attaching Jesus to it.
Lose your life in His, and partner with others for His glory alone!