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Commending Phoebe

Commending Phoebe

In going through the book of Romans, we’re now in the final chapter. Here, Paul gives his greetings to various people he knows in the church.

Don’t ignore these verses. They still contain truth and insight that will benefit us.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.

Romans 16:1-2

The first person he talks about is a woman named Phoebe. I need to take some time to talk about her. The English translations don’t do her justice.

I understand that there are churches and denominations who believe that women have no place in leadership. I don’t want to offend any of these people, but truth is truth.

Suffice it to say that there are a few places in Scripture where the translators try to blur the more controversial verses. They want believers to be happy, reading them in church.

Some are happy because the translation doesn’t offend their traditions. Others are happy simply because they don’t know what the verse is actually saying. This is one of those places in Scripture.

One of my pet peeves with translators is their treatment of women in the Scripture. Let me explain with this section. It has a number of examples.

First, the word, servant, is the word, diakonon in the Greek. In reality, it literally means a household servant – so what’s the problem?

Actually, the problem is this…when it refers to a man (1 Timothy 4:6, Colossians 1:7; 4:7) it’s translated as minister or deacon. Yet, when use for Phoebe, they chose the word, servant.

While the words servant, minister, and deacon all have the same original meaning; in our modern terminology, they imply much different functions. We get the idea that women servants are somehow less important than men servants.

In this section, Paul is commending her to the church. That tells me that they are just meeting her for the first time. Phoebe must have been one of the group of travelers who brought this letter to the church in Rome. He asks the church to receive her worthily.

He instructs the church to give her any help she needs. That Greek passage literally reads, stand with her, be at hand, ready to assist her in her work. But what is that work? Here’s where it really gets interesting.

The NIV says that she has been a great help to many people including me. The Greek word that Paul uses for her is a prostatis. This is the only place that word is used in Bible. It’s a word that’s full of meaning.

It’s definition is a woman set over others. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, it describes a female guardian, protectress, or patroness, caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources.

This word basically means that she is the head of a mission’s organization. Phoebe runs an organization that raises money for missions. More than that, according to Paul’s own words, he is one of those missionaries that she supports. That’s why Paul asks them to help her any way they can.

It’s sad that many translations water down these verses that show women in a place of authority. God will use whoever is available to further His kingdom.

I have a problem with people who try to erect a glass ceiling in God’s church. Any person, no matter who they are or where they came from, can rise as far as God calls them in His kingdom.

Question: What is God’s calling on your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Only One Judge

Only One Judge

As we continue through the book of Romans, we’re talking about the relationship between weak and strong believers.

You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Romans 14:10

This is a review of what Paul was saying. The weak one, who needs a set of rules to follow God, cannot judge others for not using those rules. Then again, the strong ones should not look down on the weaker ones because of their need for these rules.

The bottom line is that Christ is the Judge. We will all stand at the judgment seat of Christ. This is made clear throughout the Scripture.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:10

We will all stand before God for His judgment. But, here’s the good news…it’s God who makes us stand in Christ, if we belong to Him.

This judgment is not to decide whether we’re going to heaven or hell. That was already decided when we bowed our knees to Christ as Lord and Savior.

This particular judgment is for our rewards – or lack thereof. It’s based upon what we did by faith. It’s about how we acted upon the Word we received. Did we listen and obey?

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'”

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

This is an Old Testament quote (Isaiah 45:23-25). But, if you look this verse up, you’ll find an assumption that Paul was making concerning the judgment seat of God.

But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.

Isaiah 45:25

“In the Lord” are the key words in this passage. Praise God! Those of us who are Gentile believers are now grafted into the descendants of Israel.

However, there’s more to the passage in Romans, above, that we need to take note of. It literally says that every one of us will confess the word around ourselves to God. There’s another confession you need to be aware of.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

This verse tells us that those in authority must give an account as well. As a pastor, I have to give testimony as to what I’ve seen in the lives of those under my ministry.

You may be surprised at what your authority sees. As a pastor, I can tell you that there are those who I can’t wait to brag about before the Lord. Then, there are others that I hope I’m not asked about.

So, we all have to understand, that part of our rewards are based upon how we related to those God placed in authority over us. To some, that will be a real eye-opener at the judgment seat.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 14:13

Paul brings us to a conclusion. So, now that we know all this, see to it that no one puts one of these two things in his brother’s way. No stumbling block, and no obstacles. In my next post, I’ll look at these two things in more detail.

Question: What do you expect to happen when you stand before the judgment seat?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God-Given Authority

God-Given Authority

As we continue through the book of Romans, we’re looking at God’s authority structures. We need to learn godly submission, if we want God’s best for us.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

Romans 13:3

Under normal circumstances, those in authority don’t strike fear in the ones doing good. It’s those who are breaking the law that fear.

It’s like the people who are in their cars, speeding down the highway. Then, suddenly, when they see a police cruiser parked on the side, they jam on their brakes.

Paul asks and answers a simple question. Do you want to be free from this fear? Then do what’s right.

At this point, Paul gives us an important spiritual key.

For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:4

The apostle makes it clear that the one in authority is God’s servant to do you good. That’s an important point.

We understand that all authority in heaven and earth is God’s. Any authority that someone has is ultimately from God. What we have to do is separate the authority, from the individual who’s in authority.

Authority is a place, a position that someone occupies. We have to realize that God has established the position so there will be order.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

This includes kings, presidents, governors, senators, etc. We are to respect the position as a part of God-ordained authority. Who is in that position is immaterial, and that’s the hard part.

In my last post, we looked at this next verse. God was addressing King Saul.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:23

Saul was in the position of king, but God had rejected him. Yet, for years he remained in the office.

At one point, David was being hunted down by Saul, for no reason but jealousy. In the wilderness, David had a chance to kill Saul in his sleep, but he didn’t.

This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’”

1 Samuel 24:10

Here we can see David’s heart. For years the wrong man was in the position of king. The nation was in turmoil. But the position had to be respected.

Our God is a God of order. It’s through God’s order that we can live good and productive lives.

The fact is that no matter who is in the position of authority, there will be those who don’t think he or she should be there. That’s immaterial to the discussion. We respect and pray for our leaders because of the position.

Question: What’s your prayer for our leaders, in both the church and in government?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2021 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Do You Have a Leader’s Heart?

Do You Have a Leader’s Heart?

In today’s post, I’ll continue talking about the Motivational Gifts found in Romans, chapter 12.

…if it is leadership, let him govern diligently;

Romans 12:8c

The next is the gift of a leader’s heart. This is another necessary part of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, because of the faults in our humanity, we get the wrong idea of what this means.

First, let me tell you what this is NOT. A leader’s heart does not mean that this person is bossy or controlling. It’s actually just the opposite.

Someone who truly has the God-given gift of this motivation has a grace to see the steps that need to be taken in order to reach a desired outcome. Then, they also have the grace to motivate those who are called to fulfill that mission.

The word, leadership, in this verse, literally means to stand in front of. Along with this, you need to know that the word, govern, is not in the original text. It was put there by the translators to make it easier to read.

So, the grace of a leader’s heart is to take the lead in bringing order to the work that needs to be done in the church. Things are accomplished so much quicker, when we follow a plan.

I believe that James, the writer of the book of James, had a leader’s heart. People seemed to follow his lead without question as he pastored the church in Jerusalem. The book of James is also structured as an instructional guide to help someone begin their Christian journey.

When my wife and I were first married, our pastor had this gift. At one point, our denomination wanted to hold a Women’s Dinner. Our pastor volunteered our church and said that our men would cater it. (He was also a trained chef.)

I was one of the five men who volunteered to serve. The day of the dinner, he gave each of us our assignments and continued to tell us what to do and when to do it. I have to tell you that it couldn’t have run more smoothly, even if we had hired a professional caterer.

I believe that this is one of the more neglected gifts in the church. Many times, in our ministries, there are things that need to be done. Yet, we don’t realize that the gift we need is “in the house”.

We go out and hire people to do things that could easily be accomplished if we only knew each other’s gifts. Please understand, I know that we need to hire people for jobs that need specialized training or certification. But, there are plenty of other jobs that only require a willingness to follow instructions.

That brings me to Paul’s exhortation to those who have a leader’s heart. He tells them to lead with diligence. It’s actually the Greek word from which we get our English word, speed. It means to be quick or eager.

That’s because, like I said at the start of this post, someone with this motivation is not bossy or controlling. They don’t usually push themselves forward. They may offer to lead, or wait to be invited or called upon.

That’s also why it’s so important to understand the difference between position and heart. God can call anyone, with any heart, into any position of leadership. It’s vitally important for those in the position of leadership to keep in mind those that they know have a leader’s heart.

I believe that the work of the Lord would go a lot smoother, “down in the trenches”, if we utilized the various gifts to their greatest potentials. That’s especially true of those with a leader’s heart who aren’t called to positions of leadership.

We need to recognize and use all of these heart-gifts. The gift of a leader’s heart will be a help to any ministry in accomplishing the Lord’s assignments.

Questions: Do you have a leader’s heart? Who do you know with this gift?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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6 Marks of a Spiritual Parent

Through Paul’s ministry, he gave birth to and established the church at Corinth.  In his second letter to them, he’s continuing his role as a spiritual parent.  We can gain some insight from this section of Scripture.

You may want to read 2 Corinthians 12:14-13:4 before you continue with this post.

Spiritual parents are not after your possessions.  They want your love and trust.

Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you.
2 Corinthians 12:14a

Don’t get me wrong.  They may need your support of their ministry.  But, they’ll never use guilt or shame to strong-arm you into giving.  They want to allow the Holy Spirit to direct your support.

Spiritual parents give up their lives for you.  They’re willing to go the distance.  They seek God’s will and will obediently follow His direction.  Many times that means doing things that are difficult or inconvenient.

Spiritual parents don’t exploit you.  This is a key point.  It’s all about attitude.  Why is that person in the ministry?  Some see it as an easy way to make a living.  Others see it as an opportunity to bring people up to a new level in Christ.

Spiritual parents want you strong and growing.  As a spiritual parent, there should be no sense of competition with those you’re leading.  The desire is that all should grow to their highest potential.  It doesn’t matter if you surpass me in some areas.

We’re all in this together.  We’re all working toward the same goal – to lift up the name of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual parents grieve over your sin.  This is something that many believers don’t understand.  They think that church leaders are in the clouds somewhere.  They don’t realize that true ministers are hurting because of the problems they see in their people.

Remember how Paul expressed it earlier in this letter.

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

Spiritual parents correct you.  This is one of those areas that we try to avoid.  How do you handle correction from a church leader?  It’s actually harder for the leader.  We don’t want to have to bring correction to someone we love.

The problem is that our love for you compels us to want you to get back on course.  We know what’s ahead if you continue in your error.  A true spiritual parent wants your highest and best.

All of these things are at work in true leaders.  That’s why it’s so important that we continue to pray for them daily.  We want their ministry to be a joyful experience and not a burden.

Question: In what ways is God leading you to be a spiritual parent?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Relationships, The Church

 

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Imitation – The Road to Maturity

What do you think it takes to start maturing in Christ?  Would you need to go to Bible school for four years?

In dealing with the Corinthian church, Paul had some advice for them.  They were basically a church full of immature believers.  They had been Christians for years but had never grown up.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.
1 Corinthians 11:1-2

The phrase, follow my example is actually a Greek word that means to imitate me.  It’s the word from which we get the word mimic in English.  Paul was instructing these believers to imitate his lifestyle in the same way that he was imitating Christ.

The apostle had lived among them for months when he was starting their church.  They saw how he lived and worked.  Now they needed to walk before God in that same way.

In the above passage, Paul commends them for remembering his teaching and the things he told them to do.  That’s great.  But simply remembering what you’re taught is not enough.  At some point, you need to start putting it into practice.

The fact is that we can’t watch Jesus living His life.  We can only see the godly leaders that the Lord has placed before us right now.  Imitation is the first step down the road to maturity.

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us the same thing.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:9

This verse gives us a little more detail about who we need to be imitating.  The problem is that just because someone holds a position of leadership, doesn’t mean that they’re worthy of being imitated.

The real question is; do you see the fruit of Christ’s ministry at work in them?  They should be walking in love and the blessing of God must be evident in their ministry.

The real challenge is the walk of faith and patience.  Sometimes imitating Christ isn’t evident in someone’s life.  They seem to be doing the same thing every day.  You don’t realize the significance until you see the outcome of what they’ve done.

It’s those who have a track record of spiritual fruit that we need to imitate.  Anyone can be an overnight success that’s here today and gone tomorrow.

In order to have a sustained ministry of fruitfulness, it requires a different kind of walk.  There needs to be a consistent degree of faith in God.  But more than that – faith must be held with perseverance.

If you want your maturity to grow, then you need to seek out those who are walking in a mature lifestyle.  Then, follow their example and apply their principles to your life.

Question: Who do you know that you can imitate their walk of maturity?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Leadership, Spiritual Walk

 

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Judgment in the Church

Today I have to look at a very tough verse.  Too often church leadership is accused of being judgmental.  As we continue to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we see the truth about this issue.  Hopefully, by the end of this post, we’ll see the wisdom of God’s exhortation.

Please remember that the goal of an encounter with a rebellious believer is their ultimate restoration.  Paul now gives his bottom line when dealing with carnal Christians.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:12-13

There are so many issues that spring from this one verse.  The first being, that Christians have no reason to judge those who are outside of the church.

Non-Christians are NOT going to act in a Christian way.  To tell your unsaved co-worker that it’s “not right to get drunk” is counter-productive.  He doesn’t need to clean up his act.  He needs Jesus.

I’m going to stop there before I start preaching.  The emphasis of this verse is not about evangelism, but the condition of the church.

What we need to see is that it’s a part of the job description of church leadership to judge the lives of believers.  The reason should be clear.  It’s to protect the purity of God’s church.

Having been in leadership for a long time, I’ve seen a lot.  A drummer on the worship team trying to sleep around with different women of the church.  Someone who wanted to work with our youth whose name was on the local sexual offender’s list.  A person who wanted to counsel young married couples who was in the middle of an affair outside his marriage.

In all of these cases, the response of the offender was, “You have no right to judge me.”  Paul’s statement is clear.  I have no right to judge unbelievers, but as leadership, it’s my duty to judge those in the church.  Then, those who are disqualified must be removed from their place of service.

In my opinion, it’s one of the toughest parts of the ministry.  I wish it didn’t need to be done.  But God’s people need to be protected to worship God in peace and safety.

I’ve been talking about this subject for the last four posts.  If you review them, you’ll find that the last statement in this verse seems to go contrary to what I’ve taught.  Expel the wicked man is a very powerful phrase.

The problem is that the words expel and man, are not in the original.  They were used by the translators to make a point.  But is that point an accurate view of what the Holy Spirit is trying to convey to us?

Bible scholars agree that Paul is quoting the Old Testament law here.  This phrase is repeated a few times in the Law of Moses.  How was it translated there?

Under the Old Covenant, the offender was put to death.  Praise God for the Covenant of Grace.  But I want you to look at the bottom line of this verse.

The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.  You must purge the evil from among you.
Deuteronomy 17:7

The last sentence is the one that Paul is directly quoting.  It’s not about removing the person, but the sin.  Paul is making the same case in his statement.

Why did the translators give us this quote in two very different ways?  I don’t know.  But under the new covenant, we’re to love the sinner and hate the sin.  There’s a greater chance for restoration if we continue to work with someone.

I believe that 1 Corinthians, chapter 5, is a mandate for the supernatural handling of sin in the church.  It needs to be done in the spirit for the good of all parties involved.

Question: How have you seen the power of the Holy Spirit change someone’s life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Faithful at the Oars

We need godly leadership in the body of Christ.  But what’s the greatest character trait that a leader needs?  As we continue our study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we see one that I think is high on the list.

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2

The Apostle Paul wrote this section of Scripture to encourage spiritual leaders to be faithful to their calling.  He’s talking to those who work in the ministry.

The word, regard, means, to account or to take inventory.  In essence, we’re told that when other people take inventory of our lives as leaders, it should be obvious to them that we’re servants of Christ.  It should be just as obvious that we’ve been entrusted with the secret things of God.

Unfortunately, what should be is not always what happens in reality.  There’s some uncertainty in Paul’s writing because he uses the phrase men ought to.  This means that he faced the same problem in his generation that we have today.  There are many leaders who don’t live up to their high calling in Christ.

The issue should be as clear to those around us as it was to the members of the Sanhedrin in the book of Acts.  It says that when meeting with the apostles they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  The apostles talked, ministered, and acted like Jesus.

That should be our testimony as well.  It’s sad that in many parts of the church, the ministry has fallen short from this ideal.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32

In the context of this verse, Paul is teaching on the subject of the Lord’s Supper.  He makes it clear, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that if we would only take the time to judge ourselves we would not come under judgment.

When will we learn this simple lesson?  We wait for condemnation to come on us from the outside before we’ll take a long, hard, and honest look at ourselves.  Then, when we’re criticized for our failure to follow in the footsteps of Christ, it seems to be easier to get defensive than to take stock of our own lives.

We should be constantly comparing ourselves to the ministry of the Lord.  Only in that way can we be assured that we’re adequately portraying the role of a leader.

In the verse, from I Corinthians 4 above, Paul uses the word servant.  It actually refers to an under-oarsman.  Like those responsible for propelling the ship forward, we have a shared ministry with Christ.

Leaders need to be supplying vision to the people.  The church should have a forward momentum because of our commitment as those who lead.  In most cases, if a rowboat isn’t moving, the problem lies with the oarsman.

It’s up to us, as leadership in the body of Christ, to set the speed and direction as ordered by the Lord.

Questions: What are your areas of ministry?  How do you submit those areas to Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Servants First

What do you think is the best path to leadership in the kingdom of God?  There was a principle of leadership that Jesus had to get across to His disciples.  After all, they were going to be leading the church after His ascension.

They left that place and passed through Galilee.  Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples.  He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.  They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”  But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
Mark 9:30-32

As Jesus approaches the time of the cross, He spends more alone time with His disciples.  He needs to prepare them for the challenges ahead.  Part of this was to instruct them about the cross.  He was going to suffer, die, and then rise from the dead three days later.

The disciples just couldn’t grasp what the Lord was trying to get across to them.  But now, after Peter’s rebuke, they were afraid to ask the Lord to explain it.

As they walked along, the disciples started to debate something among themselves.  I’m sure that it got pretty heated.

They came to Capernaum.  When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”  But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Mark 9:33-34

This argument probably started with, “What if Jesus were to die?  Who would be in charge of this group?”  I’m sure that Peter, James, and John all thought that they were eminently qualified.  That is until Jesus shared His views with them.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Mark 9:35

The Lord explains that the true path to leadership is through servanthood.  That’s something that we have a hard time grasping in the church these days.

Jesus is our prime example.  The disciples were arguing over who was greatest, right after Jesus told them His plan.  He became Lord of all creation.  But the path He took involved laying down His life – serving – all of humanity.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:5-8

I think that it’s funny the way we get into leadership in our generation.  If someone wants to be a pastor or teacher, they go to a Bible college for years.  Then they graduate and send their resumes to churches.  A lot of them will get voted in and installed as pastors having never served in ministry.

I think that’s why there’s such a high burn-out rate in the ministry.  We haven’t learned that the path to knowing your calling is service in the kingdom.  Without being a true servant, there’s no way of understanding the needs of those you’re leading.

That was the path that Christ took.  It hasn’t changed.  The Father is looking for qualified servants to lead His people.  Don’t ever look down on that season of your life.  Enjoy your call to servanthood.

Question: How are you called to serve in God’s kingdom?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Leaders Care

I’m posting about First Thessalonians, one of the foundational writings of the New Testament.  At the end of the letter, Paul is giving some final principles that will help their growth.

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14

It’s obvious that Paul is talking to the church leadership in this section.  The word, warn, in this verse is the same word admonish, that was used in the previous verse.  (I talked about it in my last post.)

These are things that true leaders should be watchful over.  The problem is that in our generation, so many people don’t want their leaders to be looking out for them.  We want to live however we choose with no accountability for our choices.

Then, if a leader truly cares about us, and warns us of the dangers of our lifestyle, we get upset and leave the church.  If God’s people are going to become a great spiritual force, then we need to listen to the exhortation of our leaders.

The first thing Paul says that a leader must do is to warn the idle.  This literally means to warn those who are out of order or unruly.

We know that the Lord we serve is a God of order.  The church, as well as our private lives, needs to be arranged according to His plan.  When we start deviating from His order, then we need to be warned of the trouble we’re getting ourselves into.

The next thing Paul tells us is to encourage the timid.  This is actually a very important part of being a leader.  The phrase literally means to relate near to the weak-souled.  The Greek word for relating near to someone implies telling your story to them.

A lot of times those who are weak in the faith think that those in leadership were born into it.  They don’t know the struggles, challenges, failures, or insecurities of those who lead.  When we share our stories with them, they begin to see what God can do through anyone who’s willing to follow the leading of the Spirit.

Another part of leadership is to help the weak.  This means to stand next to, and hold up the unestablished.  There are those in the body of Christ who haven’t put their roots down deep yet.  We need to be there to help those people to stand strong.

In a garden, there are times when you have to tie a young plant to a pole, to keep it stable, until its roots are deep enough to sustain it.  It’s the same with God’s people.  Many need the support and encouragement of a stable believer until they can stand firm on their own.  Too often we’re guilty of letting young believers fall away because we assume they know how to live for Christ right from the start.

The final part of leadership is to be patient with everyone.  Now that’s the tough one.  I’ve heard people say that they’re praying for patience.  That’s actually not the best way to become patient.

The reason for this is because patience is not a commodity you can receive; it’s a choice you have to make.  Patience is a choice to be willing to wait for God’s perfect timing in a matter.  It involves seeing things from God’s perspective and knowing that the final chapter of someone’s life hasn’t been written yet.

These are all important goals in the ministry of church leadership.  We, as leaders in the body of Christ, need to realize the truth that the Lord is looking for these qualities in us.  We aren’t judged on their response, only on our willingness to care for and encourage those under us.

Question: What growth have you seen in the lives of people who you’ve encouraged?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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