This post from last week leads me to think about how leaders should demonstrate their leadership in repentance. This is essentially counter-intuitive because the thinking of the world is that you have to prove yourself to be strong and in control if you are a leader. However the godly leader is not of that ilk.
The model of our leadership is a Saviour who was humble and lowly of heart. Now our Saviour never had to repent of any sin. However for us who are weak in our beings and prone to wander from the ways of God there should be the readiness to repent.
This so important because it is how we display the gospel into our family and into our church. Parents and church leaders who are not repenters set a bad example to those under their care. The gospel we affirm, after all, is a message which has its fulcrum in repentance. Gospel grace swings into our lives when there is repentance. Forgiveness is experienced when there is repentance.
So parents and church leaders make sure that you are a leader in repentance. Children and church members who see their leaders ever proving their strength and refusing to face up to their sins are hindered from seeing the gospel clearly displayed before them.
When issues arise in any community of people whether that be in a family, office or church (or wherever) then there is a pressing need to resolve those issues. Very often if the issues are not resolved then they will fester in the community and suck much needed life-blood away from the group.
I am suggesting that there is a five stage approach that needs to be adopted:
Consider: Gather together all the information. Speak with relevant peoples. Consult those who may have specialist expertise regarding the issue. Talk things through with the other people who are responsible (e.e. elders in church). And as you do so be praying to the Lord for His undertaking in all this.
Decide: There comes a point when a decision needs to be taken so that there can be a resolution of the matter and a moving forward. Sometimes that will take a length of time, at other times it will be quite swift. Generally that depends on the magnitude of the issues involved.
Communicate: Inform all those who need to know what is happening. This is a key element in the process. Lack of communication can lead to all kinds of confusion and frustration about what is happening. Discretion as to the detail of the message and extent of who is told is needed, But full clear and open communication will save an organisation from lots of energy needlessly wasted.
Implement: Put into operation what you have decided upon. Inform all those who are involved in putting the strategy in place about what is required.
Monitor: There is a sense that the matter having been dealt with it can now be left and the organisation can move on effectively and productively. However, the arrangements implemented as a result of the decision should be monitored so that any improvements, that are necessary, are introduced and set in place.
In Hebrews 13:17 we read: Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
It is easy for elders to concentrate on how the church should be submitting to their authority. However, the key injunction to the elders of the church in this verse is for them to be watching over the flock. This is a relentless work for a shepherd to be involved in. Sheep are prone to wander and stray. Sheep easily head off in harmful directions. Elders should be always lovingly watching for those in the congregation; the sheep in their care.
There should be no favoritism; all should be equally cared for. There are some sheep we warm to more than others, but all should have our loving attention. Some cause us more trouble than others, but still all should be loved. The quieter ones, who can so easily be ignored, should know they are cared for too.
Also we should be remembering what our goal is. It is not to produce a bunch of compliant individuals whom we control. Rather it is to see their spiritual progress. We long to present everyone perfect in Christ. In Colossians 1: 28-29 we see Paul’s heart which should be our heart He (Christ Jesus) is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. We, like Paul, should long and labour so that no spiritual harm comes to the sheep in our care.
The godly sheep will warm to this care because they know we are demonstrating their Lord to them. Others who do not have a heart for God will resist it. But whatever the response we must continue to labour for our Master among those sheep He has given us as a stewardship.
What are we doing when we bring the Word of the Lord before people? What response are we wanting from the people? The ministry motivation of the apostle Paul is instructive in seeking to answer those questions. In Colossians 1:28-29 we read:-
He (Christ) is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
Paul is thinking of a day when everyone he has ministered to appears before God. His desire on that day is that all will be perfect, or fully mature, in Christ. So Paul is not preaching for popularity or temporal results; he is preaching, labouring and ministering for eternal results. He sees people as eternal beings and their value to God, others, and even themselves, will be found when they are growing in Christ Jesus and for His glory.
Paul would, therefore, be preaching to root out all that would hinder growth in Christ, Accordingly, he would deal with sin; he would have a sin exposing and repentance urging ministry; and so should we. Moreover, he would have a Christ directing ministry. He would be preaching to people so as they would have faith in Christ and to rely on Him and Him alone.
So Paul would not be preaching to get lifestyle change or outward conformity. He would be preaching to get lives which matter for eternity. And so should we.
Today I want to counterbalance the post from last Thursday (see here) which dealt with the issue of elders keeping their focus. I am addressing here the issue of the need for the elders at times to make sure that they do not avoid getting involved in a pressing task.
In Nehemiah 3 we see a wall being built. This wall was essential for the effective operating of the city of Jerusalem. Moreover, if the people of God were going to start effectively to function as the people of God again they needed this wall. So as we look at Nehemiah 3 we see that all were involved in contributing their part to make sure that the wall was built.
It is interesting that the first involvement was with Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate (Neh. 3:1). The leaders led the way to indicate that this was something all needed to be involved in. And interestingly there is a gentle hint of condemnation concerning the nobles of the Tekoites who would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors (Neh. 3:5b). They thought themselves of too high a station in the community to lower themselves to working for building foremen.
So what do we learn:
- There are times when there is necessary works to be done among the people of God for the benefit of God’s church. In such a situation all, including the leaders need to be involved.
- The leaders need to take the lead in being involved in these tasks.
- The leaders need humility to submit to others who are perhaps more familiar with building work. Pompous refusal to submit to others with appropriate gifts and expertise is not golly.
- We need to consider the comparison to last Thursday’s post. There are times to delegate and times to get involved. It takes wisdom to know which one to do and when.
- Even when there are necessary jobs to be done elders need to retain tehir focus on prayer and the Word. These are, after all, at the heart of our calling.