Church Leadership is a Family Affair
By Jay Kelly
I had the opportunity to spend Wednesday and Thursday of this week in Sacramento with Drew and Kathy Nitchoff. We have been friends since we first served in the ministry together in Denver, Colorado in 1988. Carol and I had just moved out from Boston to help Preston and Sandie Shepherd build the Denver Church. Drew is an old friend.
Back to Sacramento… Drew had humbly asked me to come and help his leadership group iron out some differences. That is exactly what happened. We spent some time getting to know each other. We prayed. We shared scripture and we talked at length about the power in Matthew 18 to guide us toward reconciliation. We recognized that sin is a constant threat to our relationships and we fought back with our hearts and our bibles open. We all left happy and hopeful. The Sacramento leaders that I’ve gotten to know are an amazing group of men from different walks of life who are determined to come together and support the Nitchoffs’ leadership of the church there.
The more diverse the members of a leadership group the more potential strength there is to compliment one another and fill in the gaps (or to drive each other crazy). Our Seattle ministry staff is all over the map in terms of personality, talent and leadership style. We’ve been working well together effectively and happily for 12 years now. These, my best friends, couldn’t be more different from me, or one another… I grin thinking about the Greens, Brumleys, Kellys, Overstreets, McCunes, Fords, Whitakers and Wallaces being thrown together with Erin Ulm (office mgr.) and a few zealot interns. What an unlikely family affair we are. Our staff has intellectual edges and military pledges, artistic training and can fish when it’s raining. Okay, I’ll stop. You get the point.
As a member of such a diverse team it is easy for me or any of us when considering our own strengths and preferences to mislabel them as our “oh so deep convictions.” The next step on that poorly lit path is to look with disappointment at those around us that lack said “oh so deep convictions.” In truth, these are the areas of my spiritual life that come more easily to me than they do to others. As much as we may long for those around us to be more like us, embrace our priorities and mimic our habits we would be much weaker for the ease of it. A few classic scriptures have helped us to honor one another even when we do not understand or relate:
Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Matthew 18:32-33, “… ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’”
I’m proud of the unity and strength of the Seattle Church. Scott and Lynne Green have done a great job helping all of us in the church here to obey countless “One Another” scriptures. We have matured as a fellowship and are building a church that is a happy place to be a Christian. I thank God that I can say I would wish my life here on anyone.