Philippians 2 describes the kind of Christ-like humility and servanthood we need in our church boards, committees, and ministry teams. The word “therefore” in verse one lets us know that we must step back into chapter one for a better understanding of how we can get beyond our human tendencies toward “selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Phil. 2:3) that too often creep into our board and committee meetings.
Throughout much of chapter one, the Apostle Paul wrote of their “partnership in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5). He referred to the advancement, proclamation, and defense of the gospel despite hardship and persecution. Then in verses 27-28 he says,
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.
After a couple more verses about possible suffering and struggle, we get to Philippians 2:1.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
The Gospel Makes Christ-like Boards & Committees Possible
If we’re going to function as one, in a Christ-like manner, we need to get back to our roots — the Gospel. Because of the power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16), we’re saved not only from eternal damnation but also can find deliverance from our selfish ambitions and ungodly pursuits.
Think about it: It was through Jesus’ death that the Church began by bringing together two hostile groups, the Jews and the Gentiles (Eph. 2:13-16). We find reconciliation and peace with one another through the cross.
The Gospel continues to be the power that brings us together despite our differences. When we serve as partners in the gospel (Phil. 1:5), it’s no longer about us but rather about advancing the gospel. Our perspective changes and personal agendas no longer apply.
When we sit at the foot of the cross, we realize how equal we are because the Gospel is a message of grace. — “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God …” (Eph. 2:8-9) Our attitudes change and selfish ambition gets laid aside for the good of all.
We don’t have to let differences divide. Board and committee members who fail to exercise godliness, mutual affection, and love toward one another become ineffective and unproductive, “forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins” (2 Pet. 1:5-10). Remembering and appropriating the power of the gospel, however, binds us together.
How to Appropriate Gospel Power in our Boards, Committees, and Ministry Teams
Start by viewing your work with one another on the board or committee as a partnership in the gospel. When you do, you’ll be more likely to appreciate, pray for, encourage and support one another rather than quarrel and work against each other.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:3-6)
Keep your eye on the big picture, the advancement of the gospel, not just the task at hand. When you do, you’ll be more likely to bear with one another’s idiosyncrasies and other obstacles that may come your way rather than get discouraged or defeated.
… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:1-3)
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. (Phil. 1:12)