Sin disrupted, ruined, and perverted this original design, turning us into selfish users of each other.
Folks now are valued for what they produce and how well they perform, solely for the benefits and services they provide.
And when they are unable to produce, perform or provide, we discard them and go looking for a replacement leader, church, etc.
Restoration of Holy Enjoyment
Part of the beauty of the church is a restoration of this enjoyment within the bonds of God’s grace-giving, sin-removing, life-restoring and soul-transforming love.
He makes us new creatures, and takes up residence within us.
His infinitely beauty and all-lovely nature is transplanted into us.
His superlative goodness and breathtaking excellence is ever under the surface–waiting to be recognized, called out, enjoyed, and celebrated.
In other words, we can honestly enjoy Him in each other.
We can rightfully celebrate His goodness in our fellow saints, and in ourselves as well.
In fact, God even enjoys us when we’re still in process, as we’re making mistakes and growing, while we’re failing and learning.
And none of this enjoying grace is tied to our performance, our leadership positions, or our natural talents or qualities.
In Him, we can be enjoyed again without having to be used in some way.
In Him, we can be celebrated by grace however life goes, however circumstances run, however events turn out.
Counter-intuitively, only when we realize we are enjoyed even when we are useless will we begin to be supernaturally and surprisingly useful to Him.
Not for What We Do
Most people praise leaders only for their accomplishments or their services.
There are a few false flatterers, of course, who praise us to the heavens for some advantage they’ll gain.
But the most common comment a pastor hears is, “Good message, Pastor!”
It’s the nice thing to say, it’s probably not true, and it tells us that we’re being rated every time we speak.
It signals that everyone has brought their score cards with them to church, and has come to judge the performance of the worship team, their fellow church members, and, above all, the pastor.
To quote an old pop song, “I love what you do for me!”
All this shallow, judgmental niceness fits neatly with our modern consumeristic culture, where “the customer is king!” and “the customer is always right!”
But it has nothing to do with God, His grace, or His gospel message.
It is so terribly tiring, draining, and de-motivational.
None of us thrive long when we are surrounded by people who only want to know us for what they get out of us.
The Liberating Power of Being Enjoyed
How different it is to say, “I really enjoy you as a person! God is doing a beautiful thing in you!”
How amazing it is to hear, “I really see Christ in you!”
How shocking it is to be told, “Your grief over your sin tells me that you are most deeply a lover of God! And that’s awesome!”
And how miraculous it is to hear these words by grace– even when we haven’t been on our game, when we are chronically weak, when we can’t stop disappointing ourselves and others.
When undeserved enjoyment happens, the pressure comes off and lightness of heart comes upon us.
We who are our own worst critics, who so often see only our failures and faults, who are so painfully aware of our own sins–can yet be enjoyed and are actually enjoyed?!
Being enjoyed by grace tells us we are loved despite our mediocrity, our limits, our blindspots, our mistakes, our bad decisions, etc.
If we want our leaders to enjoy their positions and their congregations again, the cure is to bath them in free, undeserved, surprising enjoyment as new people in Christ.
Tragically, we begin by enjoying a leader, and then end up merely enduring them, and then finally end up despising them and disposing of them.
The spiritual discipline of freely enjoying them is the antidote they, and we, all need!