December 9, 2019

Our Place in the Kingdom

Knowing our place in the kingdom isn't always about stepping forward; sometimes it's about stepping back.

Andy Nash

Years ago I was asked to lead a church that a buddy of mine, Jackie, had been leading temporarily. The situation felt delicate. “Jackie,” I asked, “how do you honestly feel about this?”

“Andy,” he said, “I completely support you. We all have to know our place in the kingdom.”

Jackie’s words amazed and humbled me—“We all have to know our place in the kingdom.” Even as Jackie recognized that this particular job fit my abilities, I also recognized that other aspects of our church perfectly fit his. As I took the mantle Jackie became my right-hand man, and together we had a wonderful working relationship.

Knowing our place in the kingdom isn’t always about stepping forward; sometimes it’s about stepping back.

A few years later I was coaching the middle school girls basketball team at our local Adventist school. While I loved coaching these girls, we weren’t winning many games. Following the season a new coach moved to the area—a great guy named Billy, whose teams had won more than 500 games through the years.

One afternoon the school principal (and a close friend) approached me. “Hey, Andy, how about letting Billy be the head coach, and you can be his assistant coach and team dad.”

Although these words stung a little, I also remembered Jackie’s words: “We all have to know our place in the kingdom.” I accepted the new arrangement, welcomed Coach Billy, and two years later our team went undefeated and won the championship. Years later we still talk about that special season together.

Knowing our place in the kingdom isn’t always about stepping forward; sometimes it’s about stepping back.

Lately I’ve been thinking about this principle as it relates to our world church. There are times we as church leaders, too, must recognize our place in God’s kingdom—even if that means stepping back and letting someone else lead. When things just aren’t going very well, stepping back from a position isn’t spiritual failure; stepping back is spiritual victory.

Here’s the risk when leaders won’t step back: the leadership vacuum may be filled with the wrong new leaders instead of the right new leaders. A new generation frustrated with leaders who may be spiritual but not gifted (for a particular position) might bring in the reverse—a generation of leaders who are gifted but not spiritual.

What God’s kingdom, and His church, always need are leaders who are both gifted and spiritual—men and women who deeply love Christ and His Word, and who recognize their place of calling. Their leadership comes naturally and easily. And when it no longer does—when they feel the seasons changing—they humbly step down, or up, to new callings that come naturally and easily once again.

For the sake of the kingdom.


Andy Nash ([email protected]) is senior pastor of LifeSource Adventist Church in Denver, Colorado. He leads a biblical study tour to Israel each summer.

Andy Nash
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