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Tag Archives: church leader

The Purpose of God-Given Authority

With this post, I’ll complete our walk through 2 Corinthians.  Paul summarizes some of his thoughts at the end.

Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong.  Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.  For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.  We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.
2 Corinthians 13:7-9

Paul reiterates the fact that he wants to see the church strong and thriving.  That should be the goal of any minister of the Gospel.  We’re not here to nitpick or find fault in everything that’s done.

A true leader wants to see God’s will accomplished through the lives of every believer.  So, through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, we should seek the advancement of all.

This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority — the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
2 Corinthians 13:10

Paul makes it clear that there’s a purpose to his God-given authority.  The reason the Lord has put Paul in this position is for the building up of the church.

I think there are Christian leaders who’ve forgotten this in our generation.  We have no authority for the tearing down of people.  Then we wonder why there’s no one following.

We need to walk in the grace of encouragement.  Then we’ll see the authority of Christ at work in us.

Paul gives this church some important advice.  It’s always easier for change to take place by being obedient to the Word of God.  The last thing we want is to have to endure a public rebuke.

It should be the same for us.  We need to be living a repentant lifestyle.  We should go to the Lord as soon as we feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Too many times we sweep things under the carpet.  We wait until things get totally out of control.  Only then do we finally humble ourselves before the Lord.  Instead, we should be quick to repent.

Finally, brothers, good-by.  Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints send their greetings.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:11-14

In the end, Paul gives them some final pieces of encouragement.  He wants the best for them.  It’s obvious that he can’t wait to see them and worship with them in person.

Question: In what ways do you use the authority that God has given you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Burden of Ministry

As we continue through Second Corinthians, we see Paul beginning to do some boasting.  He felt the need to undermine the boasting of those who were simply masquerading as apostles of Christ.

This is a long section, so I don’t have the space to quote it all here.  You may want to read 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:6 before continuing.  Remember, this epistle was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  He must have wanted Paul to record these events for our encouragement in our struggles.

It’s amazing when you see all the difficulties that Paul had to endure.  That’s especially true when we realize that his imprisonment and shipwreck (in the book of Acts) is still ahead of him.

In spite of all these challenges, there’s something that sets him apart from the false ministers.  It’s his care for the churches under him.

Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?  Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
2 Corinthians 11:28-29

This is the mark of a true minister.  It’s also something that the normal church member will never understand.  That’s the burden of ministry.

Most people look at the daily life of a pastor and say, “That’s a pretty easy job.  You get to study or visit people all day.  Then you make a speech on Sunday.  No problems.”

People think like that and never see the other side.  When a true pastor – a shepherd – sees his or her congregation, there’s an unseen burden that comes with it.

They see individuals that need to be cared for, healed, fed spiritually, and protected.  Many times those that are hurting are fighting against the very thing that will help them the most.  A true pastor is burdened by things that a large percentage of people will never know.

So often when a member is struggling with sickness or tragedy, the pastor feels helpless.  I sometimes feel inferior only being able to listen to them and say, “I’m praying for you.”  I could sometimes wish that God would give us a super-power that could miraculously wipe away every problem our people face.

Then there’s the sin problem.  It happens when our people are led into the wrong areas.  The word Paul uses here means to be trapped, like an animal in a snare.

So often I could see the choices one of my people was making.  I knew exactly where it would lead them.  I’ve even tried to lovingly warn them about it.

Too often I’ve heard the words, “I know what you’re saying, Pastor, but that won’t happen to me.  I know what I’m doing.”  Then, months or years later, they need help and spiritual counsel to put their lives back together.

No, I’m not complaining about it.  These things come with the territory of being a minister of Christ.  I tell you about them so that you’ll be faithful in praying for your leaders.  In that way, we’ll all benefit from a strong healthy ministry.

Question: How often do you pray specifically for your pastor and church leadership?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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The Hard Truth of Ministry

I’m now getting back to my view of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s continuing his description of how he’s affected by the call to minister the Gospel.

…through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
2 Corinthians 6:8-10

This is the side of ministry that not many people want to talk about.  It’s the price that you pay for obeying the call to preach the Good News.  At times it can be tough, but it’s definitely worth it.

The apostle talks about glory and dishonor.  That’s hard to deal with.  Most Christians don’t ever see it.  They sometimes view ministers as some sort of celebrity.

When I’m out in the world, interacting with society, it’s a different story.  When meeting new people, they usually ask what you do for a living.  They have a normal response to a doctor, teacher, or plumber.

When you tell them you’re a pastor or minister you get mixed reactions.  Sometimes they’re positive about it.  There are other times when they react as if I told them I was an illegal arms dealer.

The whole dynamic of the conversation changes.  They begin to apologize if they think they said something inappropriate.  If someone new joins the group, they’re warned, “He’s a pastor.  Watch what you say.”

Paul also understands about good and bad reports.  As a minister, you and your family live under a microscope.  Everyone watches everything you do; expecting you to live perfectly like Jesus did at all times.

Then, when they find out you’re human like everyone else, they write you off as an imposter.  In one sense you need to grow a “thick skin” to people’s attitudes.  While at the same time, you must keep an open heart to love everyone you meet.

That’s all a part of what Jesus talked about with His disciples.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
John 10:11

Many people expect a lot from their ministers.  They look for encouragement, hope, healing, and counsel.  What they don’t realize is that ministers need those same things.  Usually, it means that they need to be very proactive or they’ll end up burning out and leaving the ministry.

Please don’t think that I have a bad view of ministering for the Lord.  I wouldn’t choose anything else.  The rewards are overwhelming.

My point is this: never cease praying for your pastors, ministers, and church leaders.  They need encouragement and support just like anyone else.  Seek to bring them joy in the ministry.

Question: What do you see as the rewards and challenges of the ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Leader’s Prayer

I’m continuing to post about Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church. He’s been very encouraged by the reports he heard about their strong walk with the Lord. It’s Paul’s desire to visit them again in the future.

Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
1 Thessalonians 3:10

According to Paul, it’s his constant, earnest, prayer that he would see them again. But I want you to notice that it’s not just about friendship. As great as their Christian walk is now, the apostle wants to see them increase their effectiveness.

They may be strong in their faith, but they’re not perfect. Paul wanted to spend the time necessary to impart what they need. It’s interesting to see that he included an example of how he’s praying for them.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

There are three specific things that Paul is praying about. First – he wants the Lord to open up a way for him to return to Thessalonica.

This is an important truth. I don’t decide what I want to do for God. My schedule doesn’t belong to me. My time is the Lord’s and I use it as He directs. Paul wanted to be in the center of God’s will; hoping that it would lead him back to this church.

The second request that Paul prayed about, was that their love would increase. He already commended them on the fact that their faith and love were actively seen. Now Paul wants their love to increase to the point where it’s overflowing.

This is something that should be a prayer of our heart. This overflowing love literally means that you have excess or too much love than there are people to share it with. When you operate at this level, you’re truly walking in the love of Christ.

The final prayer that Paul has for this church is that their hearts would be established, immovable, and set fast in one direction. In that way he would know that they were able to go the distance in their faith.

That should be the desire of our hearts as well. That we stand strong in all the will of God.

I want to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when I come before the throne of the Lord. To do that, I must have a heart that’s firmly established in Christ. No looking to the right or left. Never wondering what I may be missing out on in the world.

This prayer of Paul is even more important to serve as an example to us as church leaders. We need to have a heart for our people. It’s not just about teaching and preaching to them. Our desire should be for them to grow in maturity and to be able to stand strong in the Lord.

Never lose your vision for others; for their strength and establishment. Make that your prayer, just like the apostle Paul. Be a leader who sees their people through the eyes of Christ.

Question: What prayers do you bring before God for those in your care?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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