As leaders you can see what others cannot see, not because you have superior eyes, but because you are looking from a particular place. You are an “overseer.”
Consider the function of our eyes. Thank goodness, they are in our head, not somewhere on our arms or legs. They are located in the head for good reason. From that position, they can see most of the body, plus the environment around the body.
Your position as “eyes” in the body/congregation makes your role unique.
You note that I am calling forth one of the New Testament words for church leadership, namely, “episcopas,” (translated overseer or bishop). If we lay this concept alongside of Paul’s metaphor of the church as the Body of Christ and family systems’ theory, we end up having a potent way of conceptualizing pastoral leadership. If Christ is the mind of the Body (the system) whose directives we seek to em-body, then leaders, especially pastors, function as eyes. It is your location in the Body as pastoral “overseer”— not just your education, personality and ability — that makes possible the expression of your ministry.
In your distinctive position, you are given the time and freedom to crisscross your congregation in ways no member can. You can observe and experience the congregation and larger community like no member can. You can study the stories of God like no member can. Your work takes you from committee to committee, from family to family, from one age group to another. From this unique position you are able to see patterns, possibilities, needs that no one else can see. (Of course, from their positions in the “body,” they see what you cannot see.) So, from your “heady” place in the congregational system, you keep offering, “this is what I see,” along with the invitation, “what do you see from your angle of vision?” (Take notice, this be a position from which we invite, not dominate.)
I remember the “ah ha” moment for me. One year I declined to participate in the nomination committee meetings. I decided I was not needed. Capable lay members of the committee could do the work of nominating future leaders of the church. That was a mistake. I learned that I needed to be a part of the nominating process, not to control outcomes, but to share from my perspective. Sometimes, because of my position, I could offer observations and knowledge that helped match members’ gifts with opportunities and responsibilities.
This, too. “Overseeing eyes” call for limits, not just possibilities. If we are “eyes,” then we are not to be “arms and legs.” That would be called over-functioning, while other members of the body under-functioned. God forbid.
I am inviting you to revisit a seasoned word, “episcopas.” Imagine that, being a bishop.
– Mahan Siler