The book of Philemon (the last page before Hebrews) is a short letter with a big lesson for God’s revolutionary leaders today.
A little bit of background:
Onesimus had belonged to
Some time later Onesimus was arrested in Rome and thrown into jail, where he met
This letter went with him, a greeting from
There are two lessons here for today’s Christian leaders. (Please understand that I’m not talking about professional pastors; I’m talking about believers who lead or influence or mentor other believers, though that will include professional pastors.)
1. The people that minister with you or to you are not your people. They belong to another Master, and we need to be completely free with them; we must welcome their service and we must release them freely when their Master calls them to another place, regardless of what it costs us. Hopefully, we’ll send them to their next assignment as more equipped and able servants than when they came to us.
2. There are times when we know the answers better than those whom we’re mentoring; we understand what they need to do better than they do. And sometimes, we could functionally order them to do the “right thing.” But we must resist that! We must give them the freedom to make the decision for themselves, even if (even when) their wrong decision could hurt them and us. We can advise them; we can instruct them, but we cannot – we dare not – make the decision for them, else we make them dependent on us, not on Him. And woe unto us if we make someone dependent on us!
This was a tough lesson in
The Bible doesn’t tell the rest of the story, but church history does:
We can trust people to make the right decision, but even if it’s difficult, we still must make that choice: it’s their decision, let them make it, even if they make it wrong.