In our family, my wife identifies me to other people as the CEO of our family. This isn’t about my being the boss (although I can be bossy), or my expert managerial skills (although I have been a manager, before). We would also probably agree that I’m the CIO, taking care of the family’s computers and other technology, although our kids have an increasing role in that, as well. On the other hand, my wife will tell you (correctly) that she is the COO and CFO of our family, running the day-to-day operations and finances (such as they are) of our household.
Now, this isn’t about our interpretation of Ephesians 5:22-23 (which others can debate, if they want). Instead, it’s just practical. I was raised with some of the early home computers, and I work with software and data for a living, so it’s normal for me to handle the tech. On the other hand, my checkbook-balancing skills leave much to be desired, so it’s better if my wife pays the bills. She leaves the strategic decisions (like long-term investments) largely to me, while she keeps the house running (including the distribution of chores, when necessary).
The Body of Christ (that is, the church, made up of those who follow Jesus) operates under some similar principles.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT
For the prideful among us, it’s all too easy to say that if we don’t have the “best” role (whatever that is) in the Body of Christ, we’re going to take our marbles and go home (or to another congregation). On the other hand, I have known multiple former pastors who retire and join another congregation (maybe after they have moved to another part of the country for other reasons); and then – in humility – seem perfectly happy serving behind the scenes, or in ministries outside of the church building. They have known the Sunday-morning spotlight, but they have learned that they don’t have to stand in the center of attention to be significant.
For the doubting among us, it’s all to easy to think that if we don’t have a “significant” role (as defined by our imaginations. or lies that we believe) in the Body of Christ, we aren’t important. Trust me, if my wife went on a trip for a few weeks without me, there’s a good chance that our creditors would start following up on the overdue bills. She served as a sponsor at a youth conference once (with the older children joining her), and – even with the help of our youngest – it was about all I could do to keep the house afloat for 5 days. (On the other hand, my wife has done just fine when I go on business trips, so maybe it’s just me?)
God has placed each of us in the right role. That role may change over time, and we need to change roles when He guides us to do so. At any given time, our role may not be noticed by others. It might feel small. It might feel unnecessary. Regardless of what role it is, though, we can find comfort in knowing that it is still important. Just as most businesses need front-office experts and salespeople, they also need back-office experts and an I.T. team to keep everything running.
Regardless of our role, even if it is pretty flashy and everyone knows our name, we all have one thing in common, though: Jesus is the owner, president, sole shareholder, and chairman of the board! Whether we have an office in the C-suite or in a re-purposed supply closet, all followers of Jesus report directly to the Person in charge, whose strategy and plans benefit not only His “company” of followers, but often those around them as well.
So, step up to your God-given role, and let God work through you, to be the best that you can be. Other people’s roles are their own responsibility, but your role (and mine) reports directly to the top!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.