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March 12, 2009

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April Suits

Aaron, my husband and I have made a life committment not to drink; both of our families have a history of alchoholism, so we stay as far from it as possible. The problem is virtually all of our Christian friends drink. Even though my husband is not buying alchohol, his friends want him to go to the liquor store with them while they do. My girlfriends want to spend their bachelorette parties drinking and tasting shots- but don't worry, they say, no one is getting drunk. I by no means feel this is a salvation issue, but it's very hard for me to figure out how to handle this. I am very convicted that I myself should not drink, and I am finding I'm not invited to friends' birthdays because they know I won't get a drink at Old Chicago. Thoughts?

Aaron Stern

Scott - the Bible is clear that leaders are held to a higher standard. This blog is based off this idea. The fact that leaders must be responsible to those they lead is in I Corinthians 8:1-13. To be aware of those who might be weak is our duty and responsibility - not out of legalism but voluntarliy as unto Christ. I Corinthians 9 talks about not using our freedom to hinder the Gospel for the Gospel, not our freedom is our greater calling.

To make "coming alive" the grid by which we determine what is ok is a very slippery slope. I would hope that we would come alive when we don't hinder people in any way from knowing Christ. For that I am willing to give up anything.

Also take a good look at I Timothy 3, Titus 1 and I Timothy 4:12-16. All speak to the high expectations of a leader.

5cott

First of all, this article is very much about legalism. I understand that your focus when you wrote it was more on peoples attitudes towards their liberties then what their liberties are. People who go around saying "It doesn't say I can't, It doesn't say I can't" do have the wrong attitude, agreed. But for you to pretend there are different sets of rules for leaders and followers makes no sense.

Gods standards are the same for all believers.

"Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - John Eldredge

In this day and age is simply not possible to be effective in any way and still "please everyone in every way". What Christianity needs today in the face of dwindling numbers of young church members is fearless leaders who have come alive, not ones that seek to please the lowest common denominator with a conservative life no one could shake a finger at. That is a life of fear, no matter how selfless your intentions. Our new generation sees through imitation and are not moved by the leaders that work so hard to please everyone. They need real people with real lives to walk beside them and go to the dark places without fear.

Kind of rambled, but my point is just that you should be acting out of your freedom and strength in god rather then living as though someone may be offended. Regardless if you justify that life by calling is selfless and serving others.

Aaron Stern

Tyler - I think two things are important to distinguish in my response to your comment. First, there is a higher standard for those in leadership. I am not addressing those not in leadership. Secondly, the responsibility is to those you are responsible for. So I am not talking about anyone who might see you with a drink in your hand, I am talking about those you might be leading or have responsibility for.

I also think that your understanding of "being yourself" is a bit skewed. Being who you are, especially as a leader, is about integrity and character - it has nothing to do with what you drink. If you can't be who you are without having what you want then you should re-evaluate who you are.

Please hear that my overall message in this post is not legalism but that leaders must focus on their responsibilities before their rights. That is the cost of leadership.

Tyler

These are great thoughts. A friend passed this blog onto me. I'll RSS it from now on. I think that if we're not "free" to be ourselves, then who are we? If someone sees me with a drink in my hand, yet I'm not drunk, nor do I know this person who sees me, yet they take issue with my actions, isn't that their issue and their battle to deal with? I can toss the drink out, but that's not solving their issue. That's just submerging it until they see someone else holding a cup.

If I'm not doing anything "wrong," why can't I be free to be myself? The last thing I would want is for a Christian person to tell me that I'm doing something "wrong" when I'm just being myself. What if their "judgment" causes me to stumble? What if the fact that them taking issue with my actions that are not "wrong" cause me to not want any part of what they "have?" I want to be a part of a community that accepts me for me. I believe Jesus accepts me for me. Why shouldn't his followers?

I am a worship leader at a church and would hate for anyone to tell me that simply being myself causes them to stumble. But I'm comfortable enough in my own faith, my own character and my own skin to know that I can still love, serve, and be loved for who I am - a follower of Christ.

Aaron Stern

Adam - looking forward to meeting you in May at the LEAD Roundtable.

I think you communicate the standard of a leader and the responsibilities that come with that leadership. Pitch vision in regard to what it looks like and the most important question - why?

Adam

Great thoughts Aaron on the responsibility and sacrifice that goes with being a leader. I pastor the youth & young adult ministries at our church in Australia, and love reading your blog. :)

When it comes to things that 'may be permissable, but not beneficial' that believers have freedom of conscience in...how do we keep the standard of being a leader high and making sure our leaders don't become stumbling blocks to weaker Christians in our ministry, but avoid becoming 'the lawgiver' & judge of what those in our leadership teams can & can't do?

In other words, how do you think we draw the line between freedom & responsibility, without becoming legalistic, in regards to those in our teams?

Congrats on your boy! Looking forward to LeadConference in May!

Aaron Stern

Rob - I do agree with the idea of taking a Sabbatical though there are deeper reasons to take a break. My great friend Glenn Packiam is on sabbatical and wrote about his reasons at www.glennpackiam.typepad.com. I also recommend the book "The Rest of God" by Mark Buchanan. I am actually scheduled to take six weeks off this summer and very much looking forward to it.

Duane - I'll have to check that book out.

Rob

What would be your thoughts on a Christian leader taking a sabbatical to get away from the lime light?

Duane

Such a True perspective on leadership as A Missionary!!! Thanks Aaron!!!
A great book on the matter would be "Making Jesus Lord, Laying down our rights"A powerful Idea of the Lordship of Jesus.

Aaron Stern

Scott - I am not advocating legalism but rather a deep and sacrificial love for others in the life of a leader. A love that causes one to willingly give up anything that could possibly lead someone astray.

Colin - lol

Joshua - Love the quote. Thay may very well come up in a sermon someday!

Layne - Jesus is always the best example yet I am amazed how quickly we forget to see what he did. Much love my friend.

Carol - the shoulder is recovering well. Not only do we lose our rights as leaders, we actually give up our rights when we become a Christian!

5cott

It is an interesting conversation. I think that respecting others personal beliefs is fine. But I do believe that the end of that is political correctness at its worst. Jesus sat with prostitutes, and tax collectors that stole, I'm sure that made some people of weak faith stumble. He wasn't afraid to be misunderstood. I think there is a world of difference between having a beer, or cussing, or whatever and eating food people's faith holds as sacred. Personally, I would never be able to relate to a 'leader' that was legalistic about their life.

Collin

Aaron, thanks for the wisdom, that was really well said. In response to Layne, Jesus did give up his rights...except for the right to a fine red wine ;)...though I'm sure he would have given that up too if were causing someone to fall away or "causing one of these little ones to sin".

Joshua Simpson

Wow! That was really a good answer that was totally based on the Word and its prioinciples. I too have wrestled with that question as a newly credentialed minister. I read a quote though that really helped me out: "Focusing on our rights can lead to rebellion, but focusing on our responsibilities will lead to revival." When we put others before ourselves in service, we fall completely in line with God's heart for leadership.

Layne Schranz

Very well stated! Jesus led the way by giving up every right we tend to cling to.

Carol Prentiss

Hey great article Aaron! The "economy" of the Christian life is that we are "in debt" to each other to love, and love is the greatest command, so anything anyone does should be run by that standard, and not just with other people in mind, but also with what would please the Lord. Of course, those "luxuries" might not turn out that way at all. To be like Jesus is the goal we all want to have. You know, WWJD. He had the "right" to come down from the cross, but chose to bear the responsibility of loving us through his death and resurrection.
Glad you're okay from the slopes,
Carol

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