Christian Leadership, Wine, and Risk-taking

The Christian life is a call to a life of risk-taking. Not foolish risks, but risks that are taken in faith after one has counted the cost (Luke 14:28). This is even inherent in the central rite of the church, the Lord’s Supper, which takes one of the most common of human activities and intensifies it with profound meaning.

Jesus gives us bread and wine to partake of in remembrance of him, and as Leithart has pointed out in Blessed are the Hungry, wine is dangerous. It can bring both joy and doom. And that’s part of the point. The Supper is dangerous. The Supper can bring unity and communion with Jesus and His body, but it can also bring judgement unto death (1 Cor. 11:29-30). It is a risk, and one we should take gladly.

Happy, joyful risk-taking is something we are being trained for in the Supper, and that attitude should characterize our lives. In particular, it should characterize the lives of Christian leaders.

The pastors and elders of a congregation, should, more than anyone else, be ones who have counted the cost, and are ready to take risks for their sheep. They should not be guided by fear. This is assumed in one of the main qualifications for the eldership: having faithful children.

There is not much else in this life that requires more faith than raising children. Ultimately, a father does not control how a child will turn out, whether that child will bring joy or disgrace, blessing or curse (Proverbs 29:15). He can only rest in the promises of God, act in faith as best he knows how, and step out into the unknown.

And each child is a completely different unknown. And the different unknowns interact with each other, creating exponentially more unknowns. Sometimes they don’t even get along with each other.

If a man has not had the practice of taking that step of risk and faith multiple times, for whatever reason, then he will not be prepared to take multiple steps on behalf of his congregation. A man who has not accepted the dangerous job of fatherhood, and has not happily asked for more, will not have the practice he needs to lead his sheep from the front, through the dangers of the world.

Does a man aspire to the office of overseer, but only has one child? Then he should model Christian faith and risk-taking, and ask for another child, doing whatever is in his power to receive another gift.

And then he should probably ask for another.

The position of an elder is not a safe position. It is a position that involves great risks and requires tremendous faith. It requires men who will take these risks upon themselves, armed with the joy of the Lord.

And it requires men who will take these risks over and over and over again.

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