By Dr. Dave Rahn
Repeatedly asking “why?” helps us surface the most important, often hidden values underneath our strategies and efforts. When we dare to include Scripture in the inspection of our foundations, as shepherd leaders we can align more effectively with the heart of God.
Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus has rich insights for how leaders charged to extend God’s grand plan in the world ought to operate. Look at what we can come up with when we dig through this epistle with insistent, purpose-seeking questions from a meaty, familiar starting place:
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. …He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Ephesians 4:11-13, 16
WHY? What plan of God’s requires a healthy, growing, loving body of Christ?
God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
WHY? What does it mean to display God’s unimaginable, multi-colored wisdom as a church?
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
o we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
WHY? Why is our coordinated, beautiful work dependent on Christ?
God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ — which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ – everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ,
we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance,
and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
WHOA! This is a massive purpose!
Note that we began this excavation of Ephesians where the classic shepherd-leaders of the church are called to focus. Their presence, provision, and protection began to be unpacked with exemplary practicality at the end of chapter 3, as Paul gushes: “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father…” (v. 14). All sorts of helpful directives and coaching tips for faithful living follow from this prayer for power, prompted by Paul’s amazement that he gets to play a small part in God’s majestic purpose. It’s only when shepherds get with THE PLAN that anything is possible.