Imagine with me for a moment the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Imagine the tall structure high up in the air. You are on the ground looking upward, and then suddenly you notice something strange. Other buildings are straight, but this building is slightly curved. It is leaning over. It looks like it might fall over.
Throughout the years, people have attempted to fix the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If you read up on the history of the tower, you can find out it took hundreds of years for all of the stories to be built. Wars and other preoccupations led the builders of the towers to cease their work. Throughout the centuries, many teams have attempted to fix the problem of the lean, worried the tower will one day fall over. In the later part of the twentieth century, scientists slowly removed portions of the unsteady foundation, and replaced it with concrete. Over time, this has helped the tower remain. There are still uncertainties about whether the tower could withstand an earthquake or other disaster, but we hope the Leaning Tower will be with us for many more years to come.
As I was reading through the history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I kept thinking about leadership. The biggest problem the tower has is that the foundation is not steady. If the foundation of the tower had been built strong, the tower would not have continued to lean. In leadership, there is the tendency to rush into ones calling. Sometimes people believe they are called to ministry, service, and leadership; but they do not want to take the time to create a strong foundation. They want to have the authority, but they are not willing to submit to a time of preparation and study.
Our culture is constantly rushing people. This same phenomenon is in the church. People want to rush people into conversion, discipleship, and then leadership. Sometimes we are not patient with the building of the foundation. God may want to slowly build a person, and create a new creation in Christ. If we are not being led by the Spirit, we might want to rush this person into an “experience” rather than a “relationship.” I’m Pentecostal, so I get what it means to have experience. I understand the speaking in tongues, full immersion baptism, and other experiential distinctives which set Pentecostals apart from other Christian denominations. I am also aware of the tendency within legalism to miss relationship. We need both relationship and experience. These two together produce growth, change, and transformation. Stop rushing people into your image of God. Be a guide. Be with people, and stop trying to do everything for them.
As a young leader within the church, I have often struggled with impatience. I know God has given me dreams and visions for the future, but I do not always want to wait for these dreams. I often rush. I sometimes forget the journey. I sometimes miss the point of the walk, because I want to run. In these times, I remind myself to slow down. I remind myself I am on the Potter’s Wheel. I remind myself, I need to wait for the presence of God. God has given me many visions for women in leadership, but it will take time. We did not wake up one day and experience injustice. It was years of injustice and discrimination which caused women to leave and never begin their ministries.
Several years ago in Pentecost, people tarried. What this meant, is that they literally waited for the presence of God within their services. Instead of continuing on in a program, the people waited. Instead of rushing, people waited. I believe this practice to tarry could help our Pentecostal movement, and help build strong leaders. For instance, with the women in pastoral leadership debate, maybe we ought to wait for the presence of God. Maybe we ought to wait on the Lord, and trust not in our own understanding. The traditions of the church are strong, but God is stronger. The traditions of our culture are strong, but God is stronger. Let’s wait. Let’s be courageous. Let’s tarry for the presence of God.
When leaders and people in the church walk out, and never come back I often wonder what happened. I think about the choice to leave a church. I think about the choice to leave a relationship. I question what happened. Most of the time, I realize it was something in the foundation of this believer which led them to walk away. It wasn’t necessarily because they were offended; it was bitterness which started to take hold in their spiritual foundation. People don’t decide to walk away in one day. It is usually an accumulation of months, years, and decades of foundational problems which cause a person to make this choice.
As women and men of faith, we must be willing to take the time to build foundation. God is a creator, and we are the creation. We must be willing to value foundation. It is really important to work on our foundational relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what will keep us in the difficult times. This is what will bring us the strength, and sustaining power during tragedy.
As a leader, I want to stand tall and strong. I do not want to lean and waiver when other winds of doctrine come my way. I want to be strong in faith, and know to the very core of my being I have a relationship with the Almighty. What about you?
Copyright 2014 Crystal Schmalz