1. Humbly depend on the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-6, Romans 7:19-25)
Through Ephesians 4:3 we can see how the apostle Paul encourages us to promote a unity amongst the brethren. If we really think about it, there is hardly a day that passes by that I don’t hear about a ministry having some issues that threatens to split the church. It comes to mind a time a group of people left our congregation because we had moved Holy Communion from Sunday morning to Wednesday nights. It was unfortunate that they left for a reason as such.
That is only one of the many that I have experienced during my time in ministry. Today we see believers fighting over styles of music and attire and all manners of other nonessential issues seem to come up all the time. Paul urges us to persistently guard the togetherness and unity of not only the church but outside the church.
So what is the source the unity described? The apostle stresses the things that are in common. By doing this, we tend to forget the things that threaten to destroy our unity. Ephesians 4 sets forth the things believers have in common. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all. When we fully depend and walk in the Spirit we are able to have communion with anyone who holds the belief that salvation is only obtained through Jesus Christ.
2. Walk in love (Ephesians 5:2)
Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Think about a time when someone demonstrate care for you and reached out with unreserved love. Think about the connection that was created and envision what the life would look like if we operated this way all the time. If we are to conserve unity we are to walk in love and focus on the main issues that bring us together. Whether you are married or single, we are all in some kind of relationship, whether it’s a friendship, a classmate, or a family member, but as humans we never agree on everything. However, that doesn’t mean that because I don’t agree with my wife, friend, classmate, or family member that I am going to end my relationships with them. The approach should be: how can we agree to disagree? How can we compromise? How can I resolve to make things right? You’re better off being wrong and unified than right and divided.
If we are to maintain unity we are to learn to love people for who they are, nevertheless we should strive to help and teach people, know Jesus, love Jesus, and live like Jesus.
As I mentioned before differences will always arise in any content, church, workplace, school, you name it but we must learn to value unity more than progress, we must value relationships more than decisions. Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
3. Submit to authority (Romans 13:1-2, Hebrews 13:17)
When Jesus talked about servant leadership He said they should be servants, not behaving as gentiles who “lord it over” people.
Matthew stated, “But Jesus called the disciples and said, "You know that the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them and their superiors act like tyrants over them. That's not the way it should be among you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That's the way it is with the Son of Man. He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.
We must understand that ecclesial authority is very different to secular authority. Leaders within the church must, first of all, be servants. Today more than ever there is a craving hunger for authority, not submission. However Matthew wrote, “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”
In my time in ministry, I would lie if I told you that it was always easy submitting to my leaders. There are times that it is quite difficult to submit, especially when you differences exist. But I have learned that even if my leader is wrong God honors when you submit under their leadership. If desire to be over people one day, you must first learn to be under them with integrity. Perhaps you might say but my leader is not worthy, always remember that respect is earned, honor is given.
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Hebrews 13:17 For the sake of unity in the church and leadership we must submit to authority with a willingness heart. Once again we see here that the Lord honors your submission to your leaders.
Our NextGen founder and director Abram Gomez said, “you cannot fully benefit from your leader until you truly submit to your leader.” What will God bless? God will bless unity, not our selfish desires, therefore we must love, embrace, and submit under our spiritual guidance.
4. Deal with problems and offenses quickly and biblically (Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-32, Matthew 18:15; Titus 3:10)
Dealing with issues both inside and outside the church has never an easy task. But the things that you don’t confront, will never change. Through my experience in ministry I have dealt with many problems and offenses, at times rightly and other times wrongly. It is imperative to never allow problems or offenses go unaddressed. The enemy is astute, he may use the latter as a foothold into provoke anger, resentment, or bitterness.
Within our church leadership we call it managerial courage, which can be defined as the willingness do to what’s right (even when it’s difficult) in order to help people and fulfill the vision. I have learned that in order to lead correctly at any organizational level I must exercise courage. Ezra 10:2, Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Allow me to explain what was going on here, During this time there was a problem with people of God marrying ungodly women, Shecaniah, a leader, took a stand and decided not to involve himself in the mixed marriages. Shecaniah was bold and chose to obey God rather than please his relatives. Shecaniah challenges Ezra to lead courageously.
Why do so many not deal with problems and offenses?
- We are afraid or fearful (creates relational tension)
- We rather have the allusion of peace than having people developed
- We either don’t see the bigger picture or we don’t have the energy to deal with it
- We forget we are accountable (we aren’t managers, we are stewards)
- We have lost hope or love (it can’t get better or we don’t care anymore)
What happens you don’t deal with problems and offenses?
- Unhealthy relationships are formed (no trust, no honesty)
- Under developed people (no discipleship being done)
- Someone else has to do clean up duty (because someone else didn’t do their job)
In core, it is quintessential to strive and promote and preserve unity inside and outside the church. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. Titus 3:2
Remember that God won’t release his anointing where there is disunity. All success in church works in unity, all failure in church work in discord. God abominates someone sowing discord.
Hervin Antonio Hidalgo received his calling into ministry at the age of 19 although he began to serve his church in the worship ministry at a very young age. At age 21, he began to study music and bible Instituto CanZion Tennessee. He currently serves as an administrative and worship pastor at ICE Church in Laredo, TX. Hervin will soon graduate from The King’s University at Gateway with a Bachelor’s in Biblical and Theological Studies, he plans to continue his studies by pursuing a Master’s Degree from Liberty University. He and his wife, Abigail, reside in Laredo, TX.