One of my favorite things about being a pastor is that I get opportunities to see people make decisions that I know are only possible because of God’s presence in their life. I love seeing unexplainable things being done. Things that the world would never consider. Things that testify that God is real and he really is changing people’s lives. This past Thursday, I had a fresh opportunity to witness this.
For almost a year, Gus and Phyllis Bottiglieri have been serving as small group leaders. In the world, if you have a position of leadership, you hold on to it tightly. Life is about making a name for yourself. But that is not what the Bottiglieris are about. While they have been doing an excellent job, their group has grown in a different direction from where we want to be as a church. One of our values as a church is diversity. Diversity not just ethnic, but socio economic and generational and,, etc... It takes people being willing to be together with different kinds of people in order to show the powerful difference that the gospel makes. In other words, the gospel is a unifying force, but that power can only be felt in the midst of diversity.
The Bottiglieri’s group was started with a few core members who lived close together and wanted to be together to reach their section of the neighborhood. However, those people were all, not sure what the politically correct term is, but… more “seasoned” in life. As this group has grown they have attracted other more seasoned people and so it has naturally progressed to become a “seniors” group. It is understandable that the group has developed in this way. People who are similar with one another enjoy being together. However, I don’t think it is good for our other groups to not be able to benefit from the wisdom of our seniors.
Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life (Pro 16:31 ESV)
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (Psa 71:18 ESV)
I love that there are “seasoned” people in our church and I am eager for all of us to benefit from them. So with a desire to strengthen, I started praying and discussing with Gus and Phyllis that it might be best for the good of our church if their group dissolved so that they could be dispersed throughout our other groups.
Who gives up leadership? Who takes a step back for the good of others? People like Gus and Phyllis who are filled with the Holy Spirit and love of Christ. I was in awe as they humbly expressed their desire to serve the next generation, even if that meant shutting their current group down. That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen unless you are captured by a glory greater than yourself.
Gus and Phyllis, thank you for your example of wanting to be part of something that is not about you and bigger than you. Thank you for your humility to serve Christ by laying down your life for others. I praise God for his work in your life.
Grace and peace,