The Apostle Paul gave us some essential guidelines from Romans 15:1- 13 in the leading of our churches. With Paul's great manifesto complete, he finished with a personal note on how to better lead a church. Paul may have been apprehensive on how this letter would be received; therefore, he used many personal pronouns to reassure them of his love for them. People tend to lead from their own will, but God wants us to lead from His. So, Paul opened his heart to them, and became very vulnerable and candid. He sought their prayers and support as he both instructed and exemplified what they were to do. And, in his final closing, he was still overflowing with the magnitude of the greatness of God's grace! Emperor Nero may have martyred him, but his voice prevails today, nearly 2000 years later, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In verse seven of Romans fifteen, we are asked to accept others. How can you do this? What barriers do you need to get over in order to do so?
One of the major points of our lives is the debt we owe to Christ; we should give back to Him and His work in us with gratitude as we lead His Church. Thus, any condescension to those under our care and guidance is an extreme assault both on the character of our Lord and on His instruction to us. A Christian, especially a leader, must never, ever be so filled with pride that he/she is arrogant and callous toward others! The mature believer and leader should be able to give up his/her selfish desires and inclinations for the good of others, so to be an example of Christ.
What have been your thoughts about our discussions of pride and arrogance? Have you been challenged? Or, do you feel we are "barking up the wrong tree" in our emphases? If so, have you studied the passages and prayed?
The Bible was composed for our benefit and instruction, filled with hope, purpose, and meaning to enable us to live the Christian life. It is our written guide while Christ is our Personal guide from whose example we model and lead. In demonstration, Paul prayed for love and concord among the believers for the worship of God, who is the chief reason we are a church, coming together for the glory of God. We are passionately urged to know who we are in Christ, so our faith can be real and demonstrated in our relating to and management with others. We all are called to glorify Christ in all that we do-leaders as well as other believers. Thus, if we are called to be a leader, it will be exhibited by our passion and support in modeling, speaking, or writing, because of the urgency of the Gospel and the need for the world to hear it. As God desires our prayers and respect, He also calls us to offer the same to one another.
Does this give you hope and encouragement? What about motivation?
As you lead, consider your debt to Christ for what He has done for you. Be careful not to put down others whose faith is not strong or whom you may not like. Be willing and able to disciple others in the faith with real guidance, support, and in prayer. In so doing, you can live your life as an encourager to others. A more experienced and mature Christian is called to walk alongside new and less mature Christians to help them grow so they can glorify Christ. This is leadership prime! In addition, Christian leaders are to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from their thinking and actions! The leader or pastor has the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others with time, love, and patience, not merely to exercise one's own version or vision to the exclusion of Christ and His precepts. Additionally, we are not to flaunt ourselves because of our position or maturity-or lack of it.
Have you been able to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from your thinking and actions? If not, what do you still need to work on?
Leaders are to be dedicated to unity rather than to strife and envy!
There are major enemies and threats that will take down the best leaders and destroy the most fruitful churches. First is pride, which was discussed previously; now, consider that our Lord suffered for the benefit of others, and to the exclusion of Himself. Since Christ was able to deny Himself, it is ludicrous to think that our pride is bigger than Him, so that we do not need to be humble; without humility we will have envy, which is one of the most destructive forces on earth, and will bring down leaders and ministries faster than imagination can allow! How do we combat this? Look to our Lord! His focus was pleasing God and helping others. What is yours? If your vision and attitude are not about pleasing God, but you are in it for yourself, you are not a leader called by God; rather, you are in the wrong position at best or perhaps a parasite at worst who is a clear and present danger to the Kingdom and must step down until you are right with God! In real church leadership, no pretenders or phonies or prideful people are allowed! Get out and get help (Psalm 69:9; 1 Pet. 5)!
Christ must be our model and pattern in our service to others, and the reason for the importance of being humble. Yet, many Christian leaders act as though this were not true!
Do you acknowledge God's Word the way you do money?
From our studying, to our mentoring, to our governing, to our hospitality, or to our public encounters, all must be done with one mind and mouth. We must work as a body, maintaining our individual personalities, but having unified vision and purpose to glorify God. If this is not so, the result will be chaos and strife, Satan's favorite playground. So, we must look to the Scriptures, which were written for us-for our benefit, for our learning, and for our growth-all by divine inspiration. We cannot glorify God in the midst of envy, pride, and strife, or in the presence of anger and bitterness. We cannot be known for our negatives, for they will accomplish nothing. Our focus must be on the positive; our focus must be on Christ as LORD (1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:10-12)!
Why is it impossible to glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in anger and bitterness?
We, as Christian leaders have a debt to pay out of our gratitude for what Christ has done. We must consider reaching others in our care as well as the lost as an opportunity to obey our call. The whole purpose of the Jewish nation was to model God's redemptive plan to all of humanity. Now the baton has been passed to Christians-both as individuals and collectively as the Church (Gen. 12).
Keep in mind this imperative from God's Word. We are to be rooted in Christ and to display humility, as our Lord exemplified. This means mutual acceptance of others, even those whose culture and beliefs are different. Yet, it is amazing how we Christians exclude one another over trivial matters, causing many church splits and schisms. This is what causes a lot of our problems in the world; we have created a poor reputation in the world. We often are the butt of jokes that we have well earned. It is not always satan or worldliness; sometimes we can be our own worst enemies (Matt. 23; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:20)!
How do we as Christians cause church splits and schisms when we exclude one another over trivial items?
God accepted you. You, in turn, must accept others! He did not save us to be self-centered; He saved us to be His ambassadors wherever we are, whatever we are, and whenever we can!
What have you or your church done in the past six months to promote or model peace and unity?
Consider that a bad leader is like a wild animal that will tear at another animal's weakness and frailty. Do we do the same with others, and still praise the Lord? Yes, Christ bears our weakness and our stupidities, and He has patience with us when we are totally undeserving. But; what about our responsibilities? What about our call to be better? We need to make sure that when we lead, we are pointing others to Christ. We are to seek and bring out the good in others, as our Lord did with us, and be a blessing to others. We are not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others. Did you know that it is as impossible to be a Christian hypocrite as it is impossible to be half pregnant? Either you are-or you are not. The Fruit will show our true colors. We indeed have hope and purpose, as hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18). If you have no hope, then you have no vision and purpose, and no trust in the One who loves you ( Gen. 12:1-3; 17:7; 26:2-4; 28:14; 46:3; Ex. 29:45-46; 2 Sam. 7:9; Isa. 40:10; Mal. 3:1; John 1:14; 4:22; Gal. 3:8-16; 26-29; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 7-10; 13:20; Rev. 7:9; 21:1-3).
Christ bears our stupidities. What are those for you and your church?
How can you and your church do a better job at bringing out the best in your people, be a blessing, and not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others?
The bottom line is this: God is in control of your church. His hand is intervening-in us, in time, in the situation-and in His timing. We will have the bad, and we will have our setbacks, trials, and our human frailties; but most important of all, we have the ultimate Good-we have Christ when we are in Christ! The application for us is what He seeks in us-the distinction of real, effectual faith that makes us able to lead and teach (if one is a Bible teacher). For a leader, it is discernment between good and false teaching, and/or good versus bad love, Fruit, and character, and/or a good versus a failing church.
What do you think the honest reputation of your church and leadership in the pews and in your neighborhood is?
One of the deficiencies and fickleness of character that we humans possess is the propensity of being shallow. We are like a charismatic speaker over being told the truth, a flashy dresser over something practical, and a celebrity over an intellectual or even a friend. We want a religion that does not convict or teach because we want to indulge ourselves with our desires and a pat on the back. We want our ears tickled and our problems solved; we want to feel good but we do not want to grow in faith or learn from adversity. We want comfort and not have to bother with the time and work that true spiritual formation takes. In the Gospels, Jesus walked away from the people who were flocking to Him to go after the pious, fraud leaders.
The question we must ask, is how shallow am I? What about the people in my church? Where do I need conviction; in what areas do I need to grow? Then, we need to get up and follow Christ comforts us and assists us to do the same, to lead others out of their shallowness into the depths of His presence and Word. Jesus knows our thinking, motivations, will, and heart; this is something only God can know. Jesus has supernatural knowledge and will see through any pretentiousness and shallowness; He is not concerned with the fad and excitement, but rather how we are leading others in growing their faith. Jesus did not trust the people who were so eager because He knew they would be just as fleeting (1 Sam 16:7; Psalm 139; John 2:13-25; 4:29; Acts 1:24).
What can be done to deepen one's faith and life?
What are the challenges indicated in this passage for us today? What is our true priority in how we do our church? Where is our focus, rational, and purpose? Is it all about God's glory-or ours? Is it about what we want-or what He requires? What is the purpose of your church?
Do not be caught up with the stimulation of trends, hype, and speculations; rather, be caught up with Christ. Do not ignore the veracity of God's Word. His Word is explicit; He tells us what we need to know and that is that. It is a tragedy to chase what is meaningless and fleeting then miss His wonders and Truth! We have nothing to add to His Word and nothing about which to improve it; rather, it is we who need to be approved.
© 2010 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/