Let’s make unity our polar star.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NRSV)
Barton Stone – one of the founders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – had a favorite slogan that guided the early days of our movement. “Let unity be our polar star”, he was fond of saying, and I think it’s a saying we would do well to bring back into use. A polar star guides sailors on the sea to their destination. It’s not the destination, but rather, a guide to the destination. This, too, is what the apostle Paul was saying in his letter to the Ephesians. The goal, he said, is to reach maturity and full stature of Christ. Now that might seem pretty straight forward to some, but we all know that we have fallen short of that goal, and I think I can say with some authority, that the reason we fall short is because we lose sight of our “polar star.”
It is the case that congregations in transition often struggle with communication and collaboration. Perhaps that is due to the former pastor leaving which then creates a leadership void. Who is supposed to do what? – is the most often asked question during these times. Here is where an experienced interim minister becomes a “gift” to the church. Just as Paul described in Ephesians, there are differing ministry gifts given to the church, yet all have the same ministry objective: to bring the body of Christ into the unity of the faith. An interim minister helps congregations to deal with obstacles to the unity they seek but have not been able to achieve on their own. If the process is allowed to work properly, the next minister the congregation calls will not have to deal with problems of the past; instead they will be able to focus the energies of the congregation on the future Christ has for them.
Here is where we can all participate in making this a reality. Let’s make unity our polar star. Let it be our guide in all that we do. Now I know from experience that this isn’t easy. During transition times anxiety can grow and frustrations can mount. There are going to be plenty of opportunities in the upcoming months for all of us to exercise patience and forbearance, but if we can keep unity as our polar star it will guide us to the maturity in Christ we all want to achieve.