The Thin Line Between Taking Ownership, and Taking Over

“He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away’ ” (1 Kings 19:10).

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).

Most people appreciate people who take their job or role seriously, and take ownership of it. Yet taking ownership can slip into taking total control. The hidden message is clear: “Only I can solve this problem,” or, “I alone can make this work.” The very moment Elijah thought no one was willing to stand up for God, God was preparing to appoint Elisha his successor.

God uses precise terms to label us: servants, laborers, workers, and messengers. He never calls us lords, or masters. That’s not our role. Some people suffer from the indispensability syndrome. They suppose only they can do it right. Aside from creating questions about hidden pride, this outlook runs counter to the spirit of the Bible.

God remains Lord of the harvest. He calls us, He can move us around, and He can remove us. We need to view ourselves as “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). We don’t create the message and we don’t own the harvest. We proclaim His message and work in His harvest. We should count it a rare privilege to serve God in whatever capacity He pleases. Even if we do well at what we do, we should never suppose that we are irreplaceable. In fact, God has a way of showing us that we are not.

Once we understand that, we should embrace our callings and, yes, take ownership of the role God assigns us. We should faithfully serve as unto the Lord:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

While we serve, we need to keep in mind that the Lord blessed us with this opportunity. He could bless our ministry with or without us, but we count it a blessing that He chose to use us.

God wants us to take ownership of our role in the body of Christ, but not take over. He remains our Lord, and reminds us of that from time to time. If God removes you for a season from some position, thank Him for the time you did serve, and look for other ways He might use you. He has chosen to reach the nations through people, and what a joy to play a part.


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