In our organic leadership styles, and non-hierarchical organizations, where starfish grow and spiders flee, it is often heard that we must trust the community. We (leaders of some type) must learn to trust the community (and by that I mean individuals within the community) to work out its individual problems, sins, and issues. If leaders always jump in and attempt to solve the problems then people are deprived of the opportunity to learn the difficult skills of living together under the lordship of Christ. And they eventually become dependent on leaders to solve everything. So of course we need to trust the community, let it grow and learn at the proper rate, experiencing first hand how to live in Christ with others.
But, sometimes this hands-off approach to trusting the community turns into an abdication. For leaders, at least leaders commissioned by the church, have a responsibility to the community which has been entrusted to the leaders. While leaders (and there are always leaders no matter how democratic, or flattened your structure) must trust the community, they must also realize that the community has been entrusted to them for its care, protection, and provision. And while this idea of “entrustment” can lead to authoritarian abuse by those seeking to control a community according their own whims, we must not abdicate leadership when issues, problems, or sins threaten the general health of the church. If a wolf is loose in the sheep pen, it is the shepherd’s responsibility to take care of it, not the community of sheep.
Finding the balance between intervention and abiding is very difficult, especially for action oriented and people oriented leaders (yes, that is everyone!). So, thankfully I get to work it out in community!