The problem with late afternoon weddings is that after one endures hunger pangs through an hour plus ceremony, and adding the 30 minutes it takes to drive to the reception hall, one can be quite ravenous by the time the salad course has been served.
My wife and I were assigned Table 13 with other members of our church plant leadership team. Most of us were already seated, with only two or three stragglers leaving their chairs unoccupied. The table was beautifully adorned with every manner of dinnerware. Even more inviting were our salads, which were already arranged upon each of our respective place settings. Since no instructions had yet been given by the D.J., we discussed whether we should start eating.
Justin, my co-planter, led the way: “Well, they’re here, I’m gonna start” – and without another thought, he dug in, obviously enjoying every bite.
Caryn, my wife and co-planter, and Blessie, a worship team and small group leader, gently objected. “I think we should wait for everyone else.” Blessie’s tone revealed her concern for the feelings of the stragglers.
“Why would they have already served the salads if we can’t eat them? – That’s dumb – I’m eating my damn salad.” I was only half joking since, after a cocktail on an empty stomach, my tolerance had worn a bit thin.
At that moment, it occurred to me that our approach to our salads revealed our leadership spiritual gifts. Justin, an Apostle, led the way – and was not overly concerned if anyone joined him. Apostles pioneer and move the church forward. This has been a gift to our team as Justin continually presses us to further our mission.
Blessie and Caryn are obviously Shepherds. They were less concerned for their own hunger and more concerned with including others and protecting their feelings. This too is modeled in their leadership – Caryn leading abuse recovery groups, Blessie leading a small group, and both serving on the prayer team. Since we have several Shepherds on our team, there is not a hurting person in our midst who escapes needed care.
I am a Prophet, who recognized the injustice of a wilting salad and called us to repentance. I am mostly concerned with shaping the consciousness of the people around me. As lead pastor, I am continually listening to God so that I can call our people to follow where he is going. I also call people “stragglers.”
Had there been a Teacher at the table (he was one of the stragglers), he would have explained to us the correct etiquette for this occasion, which as I now understand, would have been to wait until all were seated. In that case, the Evangelist on our team, who was a groomsman and not seated at our table, would no doubt have sprung up to seek out and gather the remaining guests assigned to Table 13. The happy result being a full table of people enjoying our salads together!
I shudder to think of what our church plant would look like if it took on my personality alone – it would be the epitome of efficient but not effective. I am so thankful for a team of diversely gifted leaders who, when we function together in mutual submission, model the fullness of Jesus to our church and community and effectively make disciples in a post-Christian place.
-John Amandola, Jr., DMin is a co-church planter of Lighthouse Community Church, an ethnically inclusive church plant on post-Christian Long Island, NY.