“And the government will rest on His shoulders.” Isaiah 9:12
During Harry Truman’s presidency he had a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that said “The Buck Stops Here.” It is an expression Truman popularized saying in effect that as the nation’s leader he accepted full responsibility for making the tough decisions that his job required. Truman is a great example of a decisive leader. He also is credited with saying “I’m tired of economists who say, ‘On the one hand . .. and then on the other hand.’ Send me a one-armed economist.” In other words, quit equivocating, decide what you think we should do and do it.
A number of years ago when I was visiting the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri, I saw a replica of the sign in the bookstore and bought it. It was at a time during my tenure as the Senior Pastor at Bridgewood Community Church that I needed to remind myself to be the leader God had called me to be. I placed it on the bookshelf in my office and whenever I had difficult decisions that I was facing and ultimately had the responsibility before God to make, that little sign served as a personal word from Jesus to me to simply trust Him and make the decision. In effect it communicated to me “Be strong and courageous, [and[ lead!” (Joshua 1:6)
Now there is also an important complimentary truth every church leader need to always keep in mind. It comes from a scripture that has undergirded and sustained me throughout my twenty-four years in serving in a senior pastor role. It is the description of Jesus, the coming Messiah, in Isaiah 9:6 “And the government will rest on His shoulders.”
It is an invitation to roll onto Jesus’ shoulders the burdens and responsibilities of church leadership. Jesus clearly acknowledged this when He said to His disciples that it is His church and He is the one who will build it. (Matthew 16:18) What a tremendous comfort that is! As the master builder He is promising to supply His governmental wisdom to make the church all He intends it to be.
This is transition week at Bridgewood. It culminates on Sunday, May 16, 2010, with my officially handing off the senior leadership role of the church to Mark Spencer. Months of prayerful planning have gone into this. The experience of God’s grace and favor have confirmed His will each step of the way. For the background on this transition click here.
Yesterday, at the end of our weekly staff meeting I made a presentation to Mark. I gave him my “The Buck Stops Here” sign. It is symbolic of the change in our respective roles at the church. I did it with joy. Now some of you might say, “oh he’s just glad to be passing off all the headaches of leadership decision making.” No, that is not it at all.
My genuine joy is in God’s provision of Mark to lead our church. What better scenario could there be than to have a man after God’s own heart to sit behind that sign? A man who knows that the government is really on Jesus’shoulders and as a result will go to Him first and foremost before making any decision. That is God’s special gift to Bridgewood.
And today is moving day. Mark and I are swapping offices. I am doing that with a sense of genuine joy as well. I have had the benefit of occupying the proverbial corner office for sixteen years. Corner offices are great because you have more of a panoramic view of the outside world. Leaders need a bigger perspective than others. Pray for Mark that he will always have that vantage point in the Spirit.
It had been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Bridgewood’s founding and senior pastor. The church is people and my deep abiding joy in ministry has been the people of Bridgewood. As I consider the faithfulness of God’s people in this place through the years in loving God and others, serving, giving, praying, honoring and reaching out to those who don’t know Him, I am literally blown away.
A special word to my Bridgewood family. Thank you dear brothers and sisters for who you are and your support and love for Susan and me. Although the buck won’t be stopping at my desk anymore, I’ll still be there serving God and you.