Dangerous Pronouns #2 – You (singular)

Yesterday, I spent some time on the dangers of the pronoun they. Today I want to look at another dangerous pronoun that is tearing at the fabric of our churches – you (singular).

You probably know that you can be both plural and singular. Some languages have different forms for these and English used to, but in modern language it is easy to confuse who you are talking about.

In our churches, you (singular) is dangerous when it is continually applied to the pastor or a ministry leader.

  • You (singular) don’t care about people.
  • You (singular) need to spend more time on this because we don’t like it.
  • You (singular) are the person in charge, make it happen.
  • You (singular) can’t NOT do _______.

The reason it is dangerous is that it places the responsibility for our actions on a single person’s gifts. Rather than working with the leader or pastor, we expect them to work for us. Just like any other member of the church, leaders have limited gifts. There is a common misconception that leaders must wear a dozen hats, exercising all the spiritual gifts and doing everything with everyone. This is sheer madness.

We need to understand that gifted leaders have specific gifts and skill sets. Although not exhaustive, here is a list of gifts I think fit certain leadership positions:

  • Elder (Pastor) – leadership, discernment, teaching, prophecy
  • Deacon – giving, mercy, healing
  • Children’s minister – edification, giving, teaching
  • Small group leader – edification, healing, mercy

These aren’t complete lists, of course, and there are lots of positions we might have or not have with their own mix of gifts. My point is that you cannot expect someone with the gifts of leadership and discernment to be the most compassionate person. You cannot expect an edifier to be a ‘stand in the gap and declare’ kind of leader.

Rather than expecting you (singular) to be all things to everyone, we need to believe in the power of communal leadership – you (plural). God will assemble a team of men and women to lead, to complement one another, and to do the daunting task of leading the church.

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