They say this really happened. Sounds more like an urban legend to me. So, the pastor invited all the children to the front of the church for their time. One of the little boys kept walking around the pastor as if looking for something. Finally, the pastor asked what he was doing. The kid said, "I'm looking for your cape. Daddy says you act like you're superman". Ooops! Out of the mouths of babes.
Authentic or not, it does reveal something about perception and how some people look at thier leaders. We are infatuated with Marvel comic- book characters and people with the strength and character to deliver us from the coming apocalypse. But, I hate to tell you, Arnold, we have this treasure in clay pots. That's it.
None of us can leap buildings in a single bound or run faster than a speeding bullet. Even people sweating through the latest work-out scheme or eating fad eventually surrender to gravity, squint at Mr. or Ms. Wrinkle in the mirror every morning, and fight the good dust to dust fight. And, we all know the dust wins. So, all the talk about super-heroes involves more than super-natural powers and the pretend world of vanquishing dragons, or in more contemporary language, the zombies down the street. The super-hero syndrome I'm talking about is simply the tendency among many leaders to perform every function in their particular mission and to keep their hands on all the controls that make their organization move. Or, not move, as is so often the circumstance under such an autocratic system.
There's this thing about the body that puts the kryptonite to super-hero leaders. In the mystery of his ways God choses not to make us humans infallible, immortal, and solitary. We are in deep need of others. None of us in the entire package. This is especially true in his church, where there are many parts that are dependent on the others. According to Paul's letters to Corinth and Ephesus this body relies on God's strategic placement of the parts and the functioning of every part for the efficient operation of the body. So, the single-man or woman operation is foreign to the biblical concept of church. A church with one worker is dysfunctional.
What is more, culture for the most part idolizes super-heroes, the stars of stage and screen, the athletic field or arena, in politics, publishing, business, and on the church stage too. Also figuring into the mix is a dumbing down process of discipleship, church membership, and participation in the body. For more and more believers church and Kingdom are an hour a week process that leaves the mission from week to week in the hands of people paid to do it. So, the sidelines and cheering sections are over-crowded with spectators. Some of the hot young writers call them fans. And, Jesus didn't call any of us to be fans. I think the operative word might be follower.
So, how can we resist the super-hero syndrome and break the cycle that has de-activated the mission of many churches?
(1) Study and teach the biblical doctrine of the church. It has never been and is not a one-person operation. It's function in pursuing the mission assigned by Jesus can only be fulfilled by the body, of which he is the head.
(2) Study and teach spiritual gifts and inventory the congregatjon often so that people can fill their assigned places in the church.
(3) Study and teach personal strength discovery. The Clifton Strength Finder system is what I prefer in this area and we used it satisfactorally for a number of years at the statte convention level and in many local churches. In this connection, read Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1:5 and be convinced of God's wiring your for life, and the people around you. You can help them find their place in his Kingdom assignment.
(4) Delegate. Does this really need further explanation?
(5) Learn to say no. Ask your spouse before you take on more.
Many of the leaders I know are over-worked. They are often exhausted and therefore, as mentioned earlier this week, uninspired, and spinning their wheels. Often, it's just the results of a super-hero mentality that has consumed their organization and mission. In the church, it is the loss of his special guidance and presence, what he promsied to the two or three gathered in his name. It's a body. It has more than one part.
And, Mr. or Ms. Super-hero, you're just one of them.