Ministers Must be Mild

February 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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In I Corinthians 4 the Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul to teach that Christian ministers must be managers. Paul went on, through the literary device of holy sarcasm, to show that ministers must also be meek. Then he got literal again.

I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

I Corinthians 4:14-15

It is as if Paul was saying, “Despite my harsh and mocking tone in the previous thoughts, I do – I really do – have a special love for you. And you, of all people, should know that I’m not out to shame you, trick you, or lead you astray.”

Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

I Corinthians 4:16

How would such a statement be received today? We are used to Christian leaders (at least orthodox Christian leaders!) emphasizing that only Christ Himself should be our role model, and that men, no matter how blameless or holy they may appear, are unworthy of imitation. However, what Paul says here (being infallible Scripture) is sound. Christian ministers do need to be striving to be able to say this honestly, first of all to our kids, and, for those of us called to servant leadership in a local church body, as leaders in our churches: “Follow me – as I follow Christ.”

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

I Corinthians 4:17

Timothy was not Paul’s biological son, but his “spiritual son,” probably having been brought to Christ and personally discipled by him. Paul made a point of saying that Timothy had been “faithful in the Lord,” carrying on the theme of the primacy of faithfulness in ministry. Timothy would remind the Corinthian Christians that Paul was in Christ, and that, as such, he could be and should be followed. The Holy Spirit could inspire Paul to appeal to his own consistency without fear of contradiction.

Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

I Corinthians 4:18

This was a very pointed accusation – threatening even – as if Paul was saying, “You talk big when I am not around, but I’m coming to face you in person.”

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

I Corinthians 4:19

He alludes to God’s sovereignty (“if the Lord will“), and makes it clear that the Knows should be able to recognize the Know-Nots, as he proposes a showdown, almost Elijah-style, for any who would question the Lord’s power upon him.

For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

I Corinthians 4:20

This means not in word ONLY, and, more specifically, not in professions only, but in the power of transforming Truth.

What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

I Corinthians 4:21

This is the practical equivalent of a dad warning rowdy children in the backseat of the car on a long trip, “Don’t make me come back there. I will pull this car over. I can get everyone an Icee or ice packs. Pucker or duck. Hugging or mugging.

The Privilege of Participation

January 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 3 Comments
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Previously, we saw that, in the family of faith, we have the privilege of patriotism. Now we will see that we also have the privilege of participation.

Just as citizens of an earthly nation ought to have the privilege of voting, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to have a say-so (subject to the sovereign commands of Scripture, of course) in the direction and the condition of God’s family.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 18:18

Just as citizens of an earthly nation get the opportunity to serve in government, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to seek positions of servant leadership.

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

I Timothy 3:1

For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

I Timothy 3:13

Just as the citizens of an earthly nation are registered with the government in some type of official record-keeping, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to keep track of what’s going on in each other’s lives.

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

I Thessalonians 5:12

Next time: the privilege of protection.

Servant Movers (Character and Conduct)

December 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Previously we looked at the principle of commitment in servant leadership. Commitment will produce character. Character involves not only a person’s integrity (how he behaves when no one is watching), but it also goes into the perception people have of him based upon his integrity.

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Acts 6:3 (emphasis added)

Character produces conduct, and, for a servant leader, spirituality is more important than personality. Conduct, again, implies that we are going somewhere: a “conductor” rides on a train that is moving. A conductor on a non-moving train is not really a conductor. He’s a tour guide. As servant leaders, our job is not to lead people on tours of the church grounds or buildings. The person who helps people find a seat is an “usher,” but we have got to start “conducting:” getting them up and getting them moving.

A non-moving Christian is in trouble. Physically speaking, a lack of exercise leads to a condition called “atrophy,” which is weakness resulting from non-use. It’s the same way spiritually. Christians who don’t “exercise,” don’t grow in Christ.

As servant leaders, our conduct must be the conduct of men who are in love with Jesus Christ. Vance Havner once said, “A revival is the church falling in love with Jesus Christ all over again. We are in love with ourselves, in love with our particular crowd, in love with our fundamentalism, maybe, but not with Him.”

Here’s the solution:

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

John 21:15

Feeding lambs is busy work. Leading necessitates moving. The Bible describes the Christian life as “walking” with God.

Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

I Thessalonians 4:1 (emphasis added)

Worshiping, studying the Word, praying, witnessing may be done while sitting, standing, or walking in the physical sense, but they are not “sedentary” activities, spiritually speaking. Servant leaders need to feed God’s people and fight for God’s people. We feed them the Word, and fight against the enemy with the Sword of the Spirit.

Servant Movers (Commitment)

November 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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When we talk about someone in a position of leadership in Christian ministry, I prefer the term “servant leader.” This is far from original, but I believe it is apt, because the New Testament paradigm for leading is to lead while, through, and by serving others. The Lord Jesus led by serving, and He was the greatest Servant Leader of all time.

Although we put an emphasis on serving, we must not deny the “leading,” either, and “leading” means “moving.”

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:3-4

Biblical patience is more than just a willingness to wait. It contains the concept of “perseverance,” and perseverance is evidenced by commitment. When we persevere in our commitments, we gain the right kind of “experience” and we develop the right kind of character. Our character then governs our conduct.

“Leading” implies that people are following, and leading and following imply that we are going somewhere – or at least that we are moving. “Church” is not just a place to come sit. It should be a place to come serve. After salvation, regular attendance at church is very important, but it should not be the end of your journey. Instead, it should be the place where we meet to restock, to refresh, to prepare, and to train for our journey. A local assembly of believers (a “church“) must be moving. If people in our churches are not going or growing, we who claim to be servant leaders must bear a great deal of the responsibility for failing to lead.

Qualifications of New Testament servant leaders include commitment, character, and conduct. We think of someone who is easily able to influence others or who tends to attract loyal followers as someone who has “charisma,” and this word is actually the Greek word translated as “gifts” in several New Testament Bible verses. I would argue that while the “gifts” of ministry given by God to leaders are certainly important, commitment is just as (and possibly even more) important than the gifts themselves. Gifts by their very definition are things “given.” In other words, they are not earned.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

Jeremiah 9:23

Too much focusing on our “gifts” over and above our commitment can lead to boasting in our own “giftedness.” If we are not to boast on our gifts, then on what are we to boast?

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:24

What do we have that is any good at all that didn’t come from God? Gifts will attract followers to the gift-receiver, but Godliness will attract followers to the Gift-Giver. Therefore, being Godly is more important than being gifted. Godliness comes from being committed. Servant leaders are servants who are moving. People can’t follow someone who is going nowhere, doing nothing. That’s not leading.

Next time, I will say more about character and conduct.

Holy

June 30, 2010 at 11:04 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 4 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.urning
C.onstant
H.oly

The H. in P.A.T.C.H. is for Holy.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

“Holy” means separated: cut and culled; set apart from the world, and separated unto God. Christian servant leaders are to consider themselves specially designated to be used by God.

God uses clean vessels; consecrated vessels; set-aside vessels. Holiness is out of vogue in this world, in this 21st Century. But it is not out of style with God. We ought not to be average, 21st Century American, one-of-the-crowd Christians. We ought, with God’s help, to rise to a higher standard.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

I Peter 1:15

Constant

June 16, 2010 at 11:19 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 3 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.urning
C.onstant
H.

The C. in P.A.T.C.H. is for Constant or Consistent.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

A servant leader who is inconsistent is a poor servant, and is unqualified for being a “leader.” The Shunammite woman was impressed with this in Elisha: He passed by “continually.”

There is a sense in which Christian leaders ought to meet the true Biblical definition of being “charismatic.” “Charisma” is from the Greek word for the grace-gifts given to born-again believers by the Holy Spirit. This has nothing to do with the current meaning of “Charismatic” Christianity which has more to do with emotions, wild behavior, and counterfeit signs and wonders. We must remember, not just the idea of being “charismatic,” but the importance of being “automatic.” Do not be a “mood-swing” Christian – up one day and down the next; hot one minute and cold the next. Be consistent for Christ.

Peter learned this lesson when Jesus wanted to wash his feet. Peter went from being unworthy of Jesus washing his feet one minute, to wanting Jesus to wash his whole body the next. However, Peter overcame this as he grew in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will be consistent if you do the same.

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

Colossians 4:2, emphasis added

Next time: the “H” in P.A.T.C.H.

Turning

May 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 3 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.urning
C.
H.

The T in P.A.T.C.H. is for Turning.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.

II Kings 4:8, emphasis added

As a Christian leader, turn in thither where you are needed. Be willing to stop and serve when needed, and when opportunity arises. See problems not as obstacles to be avoided, but as opportunities to be activated.

And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Acts 4:35, emphasis added

Next time, the “C” in P.A.T.C.H.

Perceived

May 4, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 5 Comments
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And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

A patch is something that repairs a breach, or stops up a gap. Patches are used for protection and for restoration. In the Bible this is referred to as “making up the hedge” or “standing in the gap.” A Christian leader should be someone who is willing to stand in the gap and be a “patch.” He should be willing to stand in a place of protection and service.

Elisha was the protégé of Elijah the prophet. When Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a chariot, in a whirlwind of fire, Elisha received his greatest wish: a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This was a great gift – and a great opportunity to serve – and a great responsibility.

The P. in P.A.T.C.H. is perceived: “I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.”

If you aspire to the responsibility of Christian leadership, you will be watched. You will be observed. Your job, as a servant leader, will be to watch for the needs of others, and, while you are not to be overly self-conscious, you must be aware that God’s people will be watching you. Many will be looking for encouragement as they watch, and, sadly, a few will be watching for faults. There is a requirement that you be found “blameless” – without fault. This is primarily between you and God, but, because people whom you serve will form a “perception” of you, you must, according to I Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

You have freedom in Christ Jesus, but it would be better to forgo the exercise of your freedom if it will cause another person to stumble.

Next time: The “A” in P.A.T.C.H.


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