Tag Archives: godly character

A Matter of Pride (A Study from the Bible)

“…pride, most likely the chief of sins. Some even think that pride is the root of other sins. It well may be; as it leads to so many other particular offenses. Older commentators (Chaucer, p. 554, Canterbury Tales, London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1958) spoke of pride as a “chief sin”, in that other twigs grew from its fertile and fatal root. From pride, grow the branches of disobedience, vaunting, hypocrisy, defiance, Arrogance, Impudence, insolence, impatience, strife, presumption, irreverence, and others. Chaucer even divides pride into external and internal categories, and refers to it as the sin of “superfluity”, an over-abounding, so as to bring fame to a person.

Satan’s first sin was characterized by and manifested itself in pride – perhaps the greatest sin. It always violates the first commandment – to have other gods before our Creator. Pride puts self before God. It seeks elevation above divinity.

Pride is willful arrogance, arrogating to yourself what is really God’s. It is essentially a lust for power … and it is far more prevalent than in rulers alone. Pride besets the commonest of people. It is no respecter of persons or position. In a power-centric society, pride is at the top of the list of sins.

Today, many of us are routinely tempted with pride. Much of our very environment seduces us with pride. It is a sin of which we should constantly be aware, and seek to restrain. If a person tells me they have no pride, then I know I’m dealing with a person who does not know himself very well, or else a person who is in dangerous denial.

Today, let’s look at its biblical diagnosis, and seek a cure. We need a pride-ectomy, or at the very least, an antidote for it.

– Rev. Douglas Hall

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One of the prevailing challenges a leader has, even leaders within the local church, is that of pride. Enclosed is a study on what the Bible says about pride.  It is not comprehensive, but it is a start.  Work through the study, if you dare.

A Matter of Pride stdt

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How To Grow a Minister

…or more aptly, How a Minister Can Change through Growth.

When I was a young soldier stationed in Okinawa, one of the missionaries at the Overseas Christian Servicemen’s Center was a short, middle-aged, energetic, robust and very disciplined man. He was a good mentor with respect to pushing us young military types to be deliberate about our lives. There was no need for him to be concerned about our physical health since the different branches of service in which we served saw to that. His focus was upon our mental and spiritual lives. So he was always challenging us to read good books, to study the Bible, to memorize scripture, to pray and do various other disciplines.  He wanted us to change our old ways and grow up in the way of Christ.  The downside was that he tended to be legalistic about it. Nevertheless, it was good for us. Since then, those habits he helped ingrain in me left a lasting impression. For example, from those days I have become a voracious reader, something I never was until about that time.

Years later, my wife and I got involved in a networking business. It was through the leadership with whom we interacted that challenged us to continue to stretch ourselves and grow, but to do so in all areas of our lives. Because of those influences, we have been rather intentional about learning, growing and changing.  Some years were more rigorous that others; some years we were forced into growth and change because of the severe trials we encountered; some years were not as hard.

Thinking back over the years we found that men and women who were considered successful in their fields were so because they worked hard at stretching their own hearts, minds, and lives. I know there are individuals who just “happened” to fall into financial success or success in other ways due to good circumstances; but for the most part successful people are those who work hard, discipline themselves, push their own limits and purposefully set their sights high and pursued growth and change.

At the same time, there are those who arrive at their comfortable limits and choose to coast in life. The man who followed after our disciplined missionary friend in Okinawa was such a man.  He was a “nice” guy, but about as opposite to his predecessor as one could be.  And it had a terrible effect on the ministry and the lives of the military men and women who were at the servicemen’s center.

A minister is to grow. He is to be challenged, tried, disciplined and forged into Christ’s man. The apostle Paul makes clear that the spiritual leader who works as an undershepherd to Christ, must be disciplined (Titus 1:8) unto godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-8). We are to press on to the finish line of the call in Christ (Philippians 3:12-14), seeking to win the race set before us (1 Corinthians 9:24), while running with steady endurance (Hebrews 12:1).  As ministers, we are to follow Paul’s example and discipline our bodies (1 Corinthians 9:27) into submitting to God’s holy will and way so that in the end we can say with him that we have “fought the good fight, and finished the course, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

This being the case, let me propose some general, yet important aspects of a minister’s life which should grow (for example, see Romans 15:14). These questions are designed to provoke you to think and act:

Am I growing spiritually?

1.   Am I growing in my prayer life?

Do I pray regularly?

Do my prayers reflect biblical prayers or are they merely a shopping list for God?

What things am I praying for my life?

Am I praying for others?

Do I pray with others (such as at prayer meetings)?

Am I praying with and for my family?

2.      Am I growing in worship?

Do I seek to glorify God in all things every day?

Do I have regular, personal times of worship with God?

Am I committed to regular morning worship?

Do I understand, believe, and act upon the biblical teaching that the Lord’s Day is really God’s Day that was set aside to be spent delighting in Him?

3.      Enjoyment and fellowship with God

Is God the savior and lord of my life?

Am I a biblical disciple of Jesus Christ or merely someone who is a formal Christian?

Is God at the center of my thoughts, motives and actions?

Do I enjoy Him? Do I delight in the Lord or do I find my happiness in other things?

Am I growing in Christ-like character?

One who is growing and maturing in Christ-like character is a person of “engraved distinctive quality” who remains steadfast in moral excellence.  This minister lives a  praiseworthy life. He is a person of special quality in whom others willingly place their trust. The godly minister grows in:

1.      Discipline and self-control

2.      Emotionally

3.      Love

4.      Attitudes, such as

(1) Courage as opposed to fear

(2)  Passion as opposed to apathy

(3)   Hope, in contrast with negativity

(4) Confidence compared with doubt

(5) Humility against pride

Am I growing in my comprehension?

This has to do with what God wants you to learn and know about him, about yourself, about his creation, and much more. He wants you to grasp his knowledge in order to think his thoughts about all of life and therefore live a life of wisdom and love. To know in this way is to seize and grasp things mentally, and perceive things morally. This requires disciplined study for the gaining of truth and knowledge, and the understanding of the nature, significance and meaning of things; understanding cause and effect, etc.  Even more, the Bible calls us to grow  in grace and truth with regard to the things of:

1.   God

2.   Myself

3.    My area of labor or calling

4.   General knowledge

Be a continual learner!

Philip B. Crosby says “There is a theory of human behavior that says people subconsciously retard their own intellectual growth. They come to rely on clichés and habits. Once they reach the age of their own personal comfort with the world, they stop learning and their mind runs on idle for the rest of their days. They may progress organizationally, they may be ambitious and eager, and they may even work night and day. But they learn no more.”

Am I becoming more competent?

All believers are to become more competent in the sense of following, doing and performing God’s will. This is means you have the requisite ability to respond to and meet the challenges of life and ministry. To grow in competency is to be qualified and faithful in the issues and details of life. It means growth to be more effective in relationships, in communication skills, in godly and work performance, and to be able to lead and to get others to follow. Consider then,

1. Am I growing and becoming more skilled in life. This is as aspect of true wisdom (see Proverbs 4:7-8 and 19:18)

2. Am I growing in my talents?

3. Am I growing in the spiritual gifts God has given me?

4. Am I growing in my ability to have healthy relationships through love?

5. Am I growing and changing in my communication skills?

6. Am I advancing in life as a godly man, overall?

7. Am I becoming a more godly and Christ-like husband?

8. Am I becoming a more godly and Christ-like father?

9. Am I growing in the ministry to which I have been called?

Obviously there are many other areas about your life that you could consider or investigate. The bottom-line challenge is this:  are you disciplining your life toward godliness so as to become a more complete person in Christ, as well as a more complete minister of Christ?

_______________

D. Thomas Owsley

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Growth and Change is Critical for the Church Leader

A critical requirement of a Godly leader and minister is personal growth! And growth requires change.

What is growth?

First, growth is the development and progress toward maturity. It also means “expansion, advancement, improvement, and an increase in capacity, extent or prevalence.” Third, as Bill Vermeulen says, growth is “The capacity of each person created in God’s image to reach far beyond perceived levels of achievement.”

Growth is both necessary and required for a leader

In the Bible growth is presumed because it is the nature of God’s creation. What God creates grows. It is a characteristic of creation.  Growth is also a characteristic of God’s people (Job. 8:7; Psa. 1; 92:12; 2 Cor. 3:18). At least it is supposed to be. This is revealed more clearly when we consider all the terms and activities that pertain to the Christian: discipleship, nurture, change, learning, etc.

Death and decay, a result of sin, is abnormal. What is not growing is either dying or dead. The intentional lack of growth or maturity is repulsive to and rebuked by God (Isa. 28:9; 1 Cor. 3:1-2; 14:20; Eph. 4:14; Heb. 5:12).

We have ample illustrations in the Scriptures of the men God used for his purposes, but after they grew in maturity:

  • The prophet Samuel grew “in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men” (1 Samuel 2:26).
  • The prophet John continued to grow “and became strong, increasing in wisdom and the grace of God was on him” (Luke 2:40).
  • Like Samuel, Jesus the perfect prophet and God-Man “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).
  • The apostle Paul “kept on increasing in strength and baffling the Jews in Damascus, by proving that his Jesus is the messiah” (Acts 9:22).

In writing to young Pastor Timothy, the Apostle Paul admonished, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (ESV, 1 Timothy 4:7-8).  That kind of training is a rigorous exercise that demands change and a push toward maturity. If Christians are expected and called to cultivate (nurture and grow) the gifts God has given them (Matthew 25:20; 1 Timothy 4:7, 14; 2 Timothy 1:6), how much more the Christian leader?

If you are a leader in the local church, especially an elder or pastor, here’s a question for you: Are you growing or are you withering?

Growth for maturity

God is concerned with the growth of the whole person!  He calls believers, and especially leaders in his church to grow in life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-11).  We are admonished to leave the elementary teaching about the Christ, and to “press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (NASB, Hebrews 6:1).

We all begin our spiritual life as infants in Christ.  But one of the evidences of true, spiritual vitality is a desire for God’s Word. This is a desire that craves the Word like infants crave milk (1 Peter 2:2).  As we satisfy those spiritual cravings with God’s milk we mature to the point where we want more substantial food. This shows we are growing with respect to salvation.

Deacons, elders, pastors and other leaders should be growing, just like God’s chosen servants did in biblical times. They grew physically, mentally and spiritually (Exodus 2:10-11; Acts 7:20ff; 1 Samuel 2:26; Luke 1:8; 2:40, 52).

Indeed, all of God’s people are to grow from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)!  Are you growing in physical strength and health?  Are you maturing mentally?  Are you making progress spiritually, becoming less like your old sinful self and more like Jesus Christ?

Growth is Commanded

Yes, God calls His people to mental, social, emotional and spiritual growth. In fact, He demands it! As a believer in Christ God expects and requires you to grow in Christ (Ephesians 3:16-19; 4:15; Colossians 1:10; 1 Timothy 4:15; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18).  In the New Testament, Paul tells us that “…we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, that is Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

As a matter of fact, the idea of perfection in the Bible has to do with completeness, arriving at the destination of wholesome fulfillment and holy maturity in Christ-likeness (Galatians 3:3ff; Philippians 3:12; James 1:4).

On the positive side, you can be assured that spiritual growth will bear a tremendous influence and have a great impact upon you (Proverbs 9:9; Matthew 12:34ff; Mark 7:21).

So, the bottom line is this: at minimum, God’s people are supposed to grow up. How much greater the requirement for godly leaders! What’s more, one of the common and significant traits of all leaders is that they are nearly always growing. To be a leader, it is necessary that you grow!

Growth is a choice

Normally a person grows mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, etc.  This kind of growth can be “accidental.” In other words, it just happens in the normal course of time. After a while one must make a conscious decision to mature any further.  Should I finish school? Should I go on to college or pursue advanced degrees?  Should I exercise and do strength building? Should I become more disciplined in life, become more competent in my field of interest, advance in my line of work, and so forth.  So, at some point growth and maturity is a choice.

Real leaders, especially spiritual leaders and godly church officers (deacons and elders), make a conscious choice to mature.  Maturity for the leader is intentional.  Leaders push themselves to grow in many areas of their lives. They intentionally set out for themselves goals with plans to achieve those goals.

Speaking generally about leadership, Paul B. Thornton in Be the Leader-Make the Difference writes:

Leaders with a continuous improvement mind-set have

  • A strong desire to improve
  • A commitment to candid self-assessment
  • A strong curiosity
  • An ability to learn from both success and failure
  • A non-defensive response to negative feedback
  • A willingness to experiment and try new approaches

Is your life in Christ, which encompasses everything about you, proactively seeking to grow and improve?  Is your life intentional, purposeful, goal-oriented or is it just riding on the winds and waves that life presents you?

Well?

If you are a church leader serving in Christ’s church, it is critical and imperative that you aim for Christi-likeness, and that means growing and maturing with intentionality.  This kind of growth is necessary, required, and commanded. But it is also a choice. A genuine godly leader will grow; maybe not consistently and in every way, but he will seek to make progress, discipline himself toward the ultimate goal of becoming complete in Jesus Christ so as to serve fully as a model to others, and as one equipped to serve others.

If you are in a leadership position in the local church, but you are not growing, then you should either repent and set out for growth or step out of the role. Otherwise, keep on pursuing the course of God’s high calling in your life.

______________

D. Thomas Owsley

 

 

 

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Church Leaders – Lead by Grace!

Perhaps the reason for graceless leadership in so many churches is because so much energy and effort is invested in trying to make the church into something that it is not. On the one hand, there are leaders who are developing their own little kingdom, in the name of Jesus, and therefore attempting to form a community in their image.  On the other hand, there are leaders who know that the local church is called to holiness and perfection. Therefore, they focus on law as both the standard and the method for achieving holiness or perfection.  Maybe it’s a combination of both?

Whatever the case might be, it is a very sad, well actually a disturbing reality that so many influencers, power wielders, deacons, elders or pastors (in other words the leadership) are not gracious.  I dare to make such a statement because I’ve observed and continue to learn about churches where people are beaten up or beaten down, abused or misused by their church leaders.

So, it is with delight to read a book that challenges the model of leadership as law-maker, law-giver and law-enforcer. Grace-Full Leadership by John C. Bowling is one such book.  This is a book I would highly recommend that the local church leadership read and put into practice, because it presents God’s paradigm for true leadership:  grace-filled servitude.  Below are some excerpts from this book to whet your appetite:

 

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his celebrated speech to the 1978 graduating class of Harvard College, noted:

A society based on the letter of the law and never reaching any higher fails to take advantage of the full range of human possibilities.  The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society.  Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relationships, this creates an atmosphere of spiritual mediocrity that paralyzes men’s noblest impulses….After a certain level of the problem has been reached, legalistic thinking induces paralysis; it prevents one from seeing the scale and meaning of events.

 

A covenantal relationship rests on shared commitment to ideas, values, and goals.  Such an idea expresses the sacred nature of relationships.  In his book, The Season of Leadership, David Neidert suggests that every covenant is filled with certain obligations and intentions.  Among them are trust, respect, mutual support, accountability, and fidelity.  “The all-encompassing element of covenant relationships is fidelity.  It is probably the most spiritual and passionate of all covenant characteristics.  In a covenantal relationship, fidelity contains the sacred vows that leaders and followers make to each other.”  p. 20                                                                                                                                             

One of the consequences when there is not an atmosphere of trust is that people do not speak up.   They will let leaders make mistakes even when they themselves know better.  Trust is at the heart of a covenantal relationship; its benefits to the leader and the led are immense. p. 22

Grace-full leaders create an environment where individuals accept one another’s weaknesses as well as strengths.  In such a workplace, people are encouraged (and perhaps more importantly, allowed) to change, grow, and develop.  Grace-full leaders resist labeling others.  They refuse to be caught in a web of prejudice or stereotyping that looks for the worst in others rather than the best.   p. 27                                                

Max DePree set a high standard in this area when he said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.  The last is to say ‘thank you.’   In between, he’s a servant and a debtor.”    p. 28                                                           

A good leader is someone who does not monopolize credit.  Grace-full leaders are quick to pass along praise and recognize the contributions made by other people.  They seek to be inclusive by sharing ideas, associations, and benefits as widely as possible.  The grace-full leader is generous.  He or she has no need to manipulate others or practice a kind of leadership by intimidation.  p. 29                                                         

Warren Bennis suggests that empowering people is not only something a leader might do but also an “obligation of leaders to coach people to bring out their potential, to really be people growers.”

Leaders not only accept and have confidence in themselves but also accept and think well of others.  Sincerity and positive regard for others simply cannot be faked, and one needs both to deal with people effectively.  To be a grace-full leader, one must take the words of Jesus’ great commandment to heart: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39).  The guiding principle of this commandment is a simple value and respect for one another. p. 29

Change must not be viewed as the enemy, for only by changing can an organization survive over time and thrive in an environment that is in constant flux.  Change is not the enemy; changing the wrong things is.  It takes grace to know the difference.  p. 32                                                                                                               

Significance comes from working with others who are not only associates but also friends.  Like most things, the joy of success comes from the journey toward it even more than the accomplishment of it.  P. 38 

The temptation for many believers is to center their lives around the activities and programs of the local church rather than seeing their mission to be in the world of work for the glory of God.  Christians must see that it is in the daily labors of their working life that they, “the people of God,” are in the center of the arena where the Church needs to be. P. 41

The hours spent at work can become “Kingdom hours” that provide a powerful witness to the world of the grace and glory of God.  P. 42

Being responsive allows an organization to discontinue practices no longer effective.  Most good ideas and effective methods run their course in time and need to be replaced with other good ideas and effective methods.  The “we’ve always done it that way” attitude is often hard to overcome because the weight of tradition and organizational history supports the tried-and-true ways of the past.  The responsive leader has the ability to recognize when new outcomes are needed and when old methods may not be sufficient. p. 48

It might seem as if it’s supposed to be “natural” to stay in touch with yourself, but sometimes what a leader wants from life is not the same as what he or she is actually experiencing.  Indications of this include burnout, breakdown, depression, and midlife crisis. p. 52

The ultimate goal of understanding leadership is not to produce great or charismatic leaders but to enhance the life and effectiveness of the organization.  The measure of leadership is not the quality of the head, but the tone of the body.  “The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers.”

Therefore, the mind of a grace-full leader questions, “Is this organization or group healthy and productive?”  “Leadership is a concept of owing certain things to the institution.  It is a way of thinking about institutional heirs, a way of thinking about stewardship as contrasted with ownership.”2 P. 69

Just as the Great Revolution was getting under way in Russia, a rabbi on his way to the synagogue was stopped at gunpoint by a soldier.  With his rifle pointed directly at the rabbi, the soldier said in a gruff voice, “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

The rabbi replied with a question of his own: “How much do they pay you for doing this job?”

The soldier replied, “Twenty kopecks.

Then the rabbi said, “I will pay you twenty-five kopecks if every day you stop me right here and ask me those two questions.”

If a leader knows the answer to those two questions, “Who are you?” and “What are you doing here?” all else will follow in good time and good measure. p. 91

Leadership is a three-legged stool—a combination of competence, character and will.  Each leg must be in place if the stool is to stand.  If a person does not have at least some measure of all three, he or she cannot lead.  But having these characteristics alone is not enough—they must be balanced.  P. 103

In controlling your time, a leader need not become enslaved to work or to the ideas, schedules, and designs of other people.  It’s important to schedule prime time for yourself.  That is not selfish or insensitive; it is balance.  Notice in the Gospels how often Jesus withdrew from the crowd and even from His closest disciples so that He might be alone.  If He needed that, how much more do we. P. 105

It’s hard to be joyful when you carry a burden.  It’s hard to love when you are weighted down.  Too often, in fact, we find ourselves throwing stones as well as carrying them.  Each year the baggage gets heavier, so much so that after a while, we either break down under the load or pay dearly for it in some other way, or we find a way to lighten our loads.

Leaders know that they must continually lighten their loads if they are going to continue to lead.  Part of learning to balance is to reduce the load and equalize the remaining pressures.  Jesus has a good word for us.  The good news of the gospel is that we can lay aside our burdens and learn to travel light.   Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).    p. 107                                                      

Without vision, leadership is little more than simple perpetuation of the past instead of predication on the future.  A proper vision builds on the past by allowing room for new ideas and thoughts.  Leaders hold in their minds pictures and ideals of what can be.  They are positive about the future and ardently believe that working together, people can make a difference. p. 109

_______________

Bowling, John C. Grace-Full Leadership. Kansas City: MO: Beacon Hills Press, 2000.

 

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How the Church is to Love

God is quite clear about how the local church is to relate with one another:  through Christ-like love.  In the New Testament letter of 1 Corinthians, the Spirit writes through Paul about the various conflicts the early church was having.  Richard Ganz, in his book, tells us that there were at least twenty conflicts that nearly destroyed the church.

In the middle of explaining what those conflicts are and the appropriate, godly way to address them, Paul tells the Corinthian church that the heart of Christ’s Body is indeed true love.  So, he proceeds to explain how critical love is for believers in Jesus Christ, individually and collectively.  The facts or indicatives about love and the commands or imperatives are not merely for the individual.  This chapter speaks to the entire church, and therefore 1 Corinthians 13 tells us (the local church) how to think and behave in union with Christ and one another.

With that in mind, consider the application of 1 Corinthians to you and your church:

Remember, all of these qualities find their source and perfect expression in God through Jesus Christ. If we are truly in Christ, we too should express these qualities more and more.

1.   1 Cor. 13:1

* Does my speech comes from a heart of love (otherwise I am just an irritating noise maker)?

*How can we speak lovingly with one another?

 

2.  1 Cor. 13:2

*How often do I use God’s gifts He has given me in loving service to others?

*How can we all use our gifts more fully and with sacrificial love?

 

3.  1 Cor. 13:3

*Do I often serve others sacrificially? If so, is it from a heart filled with love for them?

*In what specific ways can we serve each other sacrificially with hearts filled with genuine love?

 

4.  1 Cor. 13:4

Love is unselfish as seen in the fact that love is patient (restraint when you have a right to act; long-suffering). The idea is that I  restrain my words and actions when wronged or provoked even when I have the right to act, unless there is a sin I need to address through gentle rebuke in another person (Matt. 18; Gal. 6:1)

*Am I impatient with people or do I suffer long?

*How can we suffer long with each other?

 

5. 1 Cor. 13:4

Love is kind. It has the desire to bestow good on another. It proceeds from a tender heart with good will that contributes to the happiness and blessing of others. God is kind even to evil ones (Lk. 6).

*In what ways do I show good will  to others in my family, who are my friends, who are of the church that contributes to their happiness?

*How can we as members of Christ’s church be kind to one another?

 

6.  1 Cor. 13:4

Love is not envious. Love does not feel uneasiness at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by others. Love does not have a sense of hatred for others that desires to depreciate them. Love is not proudly selfish taking offense that another person has obtained what one strongly desires to have.

*When am I envious? How am I going to repent and put on Christ by rejoicing with those who rejoice?

*What shall we as God’s people do to help others in their sin of envy?

 

7.  1 Cor. 13:4

Love does not brag. It is not ostentatious, nor has an anxious display of oneself for the purpose of building self up often at the expense of putting others down. It does not seek to be the focus of attention.

*Do I campaign for the center of attention? How often? How and when will I repent?

*How will we gently confront others who seek to be the center of attention in our church, and call them to repentance?

 

8.  1 Cor. 13:4

Love is not arrogant; which means love is not all puffed up, swollen with proud vanity.

*In what ways do I show my own arrogance? How strongly does my arrogance show?

*What should we as God’s people do to address the sin of unloving arrogance that is obviously displayed?

 

9.   1 Cor. 13:5

Love does not act unbecomingly, unseemly. That means love is not rude, and does not unnecessarily embarrass others.

*Am I rude? Are we rude? When and how? What shall I do to repent of it and exercise faith? What do we need to do to stop being rude?

*How can we stop our rudeness among others? How can we correct others when they are rude and encourage them to show true consideration?

 

10. 1 Cor. 13:5

Love does not seek its own benefit. It seeks the benefit of others.

*When do I behave and show actions that are genuinely for the advantage and benefit of others?

*How can our church seek to benefit each other?

 

11.  1 Cor. 13:5

Loves is not provoked. It isn’t easily angered. It doesn’t have a trigger temper that either stems from bitterness or leads to bitterness.

*Do I have a trigger temper? When and how? How shall I cease from such an unloving way?

*How can we guard each other from trigger tempers? What shall we do when others ‘explode’ in the church? What shall we think and do about those whose trigger temper has left collateral damage among others?

 

12. 1 Cor. 13:5

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. That means love is unwilling to bring to mind a specific wrong and put it into a mental registry of wrongs committed for which there will be a plan for retaliation.

*Do I do this? How, when and with whom? How can I put that off and put on love?

*What can we do in our church to protect one another from bitterness, or allowing others to keep a mental registry in order to seek retaliation? Especially since Jesus Christ took the registry of our sins and the sins of our fellow believers upon His record and paid for them with His own sacrificial life and death?

 

13.  1 Cor. 13:6

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or evil, but finds great delight in truth.

*Do I rejoice at the demise of others? Am I happy when others engage in sin or evil? Do I seek to engage in unrighteousness or evil?

*How can we celebrate good things in our church? How can we encourage and foster attitudes and an environment that does good and righteousness? How will we delight in truth?

 

14.  1 Cor. 13:7

Love bears all things. That means it covers over so as to protect.

*Do I protect other’s reputation, welfare or life?

*How do we or shall we protect other’s reputation, welfare or life?

 

15. 1 Cor. 13:7

Love believes all things. This does not mean that we are to be gullible, easily fooled or conned. It means that we put the best construction on things or see things from a positive light unless there is sufficient evidence to believe otherwise. When love has no such evidence it believes the best about others.

*Is it my habit to be gullible or easily fooled by others? Or am I the type of person to always see things negatively?

*How can we foster an environment within our church that puts things in the best possible light? And what should we do when there is evidence to the contrary?

 

16. 1 Cor. 13:7

Love hopes all things. Meaning, we do not hope in our environment, circumstances, nor in people, but rather have hope in Jesus Christ who works all things together for our good.

*Am I hopeful? Do I manifest or exude hope among others? Or am I a Puddleglum?

*How can we display hope with one another at church in such a way that we are realistically hopeful?

 

17. 1 Cor. 13:7

Love endures all things; it perseveres.

*Do I easily give up? Am I a chronic quitter? Or do I persevere?

*What are some ways that we can encourage one another to persevere in our Christian walk? Who among us right now needs the most encouragement to persevere? What are we going to do about it?

 

Some examples for how to pray for love to increase in your life and in the life of your church:

Dear Father, I pray that I would become more and more like Christ, filled with a heart of genuine love for You and others. I pray that I would have love in my speech, at the center of all I know,  and that love would be the source of my faith. By grace give me patience. Make me demonstrably kind. Keep me from bragging. Eradicate my pride and replace it with Christ. Keep me from being rude and self-seeking. Remove from me my hot temper. Purge my mind of my registry of sins I am keeping against others, and help me not to dwell on those sins. Empower me so that I am repulsed at unrighteousness, but delighted with good things. May I always rejoice in truth. Lord,  may I always have a heart to protect others, to always put  things and others in a positive light (unless of course there is evidence to the contrary). By your Spirit help me to persevere always in this life until the end. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Dear Father, I pray that each one of us in our church would become more and more like Christ, filled with hearts of genuine love for You and one another. May each one of us have love in our speech, be at the center of all we know, and that love would be the source of our faith. By grace give us patience. Make us demonstrably kind. Keep us from bragging. Eradicate our pride and replace it with Christ. Keep each of us from being rude and self-seeking. Remove from us any hot tempers. Purge our minds of any registries of sins we might be keeping against others. Please help us not to dwell on those sins. Empower every one of us so that we would be repulsed at unrighteousness, but delight in good things. May we always rejoice in truth. Lord, may we always have a heart to protect others, and to always put  things and others in a positive light (unless of course there is evidence to the contrary). By your Spirit help each one to persevere always in this life until the end. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Pastor – Nurture Your Call, Life and Gifts!

A godly minister must have a proper motivation for the office.  This ministerial position is a role, as much as it  is a quality of character and an endowment of gifts.  Biblical eldership (ruling or teaching) is the faithful service of a faith-filled and faithful servant.

God has given his people a calling. The first and most important calling is to a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ. God calls all people through the means of the proclamation of the Good News about Jesus Christ (his obedient life and his sacrificial death to atone for the sins of his people).

This general calling is a universal one given to all whom the Gospel is preached; a call to receive and believe upon Jesus Christ and his life, work, death and resurrection for salvation. This is an external calling (Matt. 22:14; 28:19; Lk. 14:16-24; Acts 13:46; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Jn. 5:10).  It is a sincere proclamation of the Good News to sinners, exhorting them to turn from their sins and turn to God with belief.

This is also a universal call. God does not consider one’s gender, nationality, race, or status in life when issuing this call (Isa. 55:1ff; Joel 2:32; Matt. 11:28; 22:14; Jn. 3:16; Acts 18:9,10; 2 Cor. 5:20; Rev. 22:17).

Yet there is also a special calling from God that is internal. The Holy Spirit brings the Gospel message to the very heart of the person, and that person is able to receive and believe the Good News of salvation.  This is also called an effectual calling.  It is effectual because the external call is made effective by the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of an individual (Acts 13:48; Rom. 1:6; 8:29,30; 11:29; 1 Cor. 1:23-26; Heb. 9:16; 2 Pet. 1:10; Rev. 17:14).

Such a person has the inward call from God, so he is responsive to the gifting and the call of the Holy Spirit in his life (Acts 20:28), and hence he desires the office he has as a believer in Christ (as a child of God, a co-heir, vicegerent, etc.)

Yet God also calls all believers to nurture their relationship with him and to keep their lives right before God (Rom. 12:1-2; 14:8; 2 Cor. 5:15; Gal. 5:17-25; Eph. 4:23-24; Col. 3:10; Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Thess. 4:1-12; 2 Tim. 2:19-21; 2 Pet. 3:1-11).  They are to be faithful stewards of Christ, and they are accountable to him through a biblically balanced life (Rom. 14:8, 12; 1 Cor. 9:17; 1 Pet. 4:5).

However, this is all the more true for pastors, elders and deacons.  The New Testament admonition to Timothy is applicable to those who take on the yoke of ministry.  The minister must:  Guard and maintain his life, piety and gifts (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 4:14-16; 2 Tim. 2:19-21), so that he might have the proper capacity to serve others through Christ (2 Tim. 2:1, 6, 15;  3:16-17).  What’s more is that he should practice and devote himself to godliness in Christ so that others will see progress in his work (1 Tim. 4:15-16).

The purpose of taking care of his life in Christ is not for self-actualization or other self-serving goals, but rather to be of greater service to the Lord and to others.  While this might seem odd, a properly oriented life that is saturated with God through Christ is far better blessing to others.  This is because the greater, more expansive capacity one has for God, the greater capacity for a fruitful ministry.

Check up:

  • How are you actively guarding and maintaining your life, piety and gifts?
  • Is your capacity to serve others through Christ expanding?
  • Are others seeing progress in your walk with Christ?

Jesus is the perfect model of one who, even though sinless, maintained and nurtured his relationship with the Father.  He understood God’s will and was strengthened from above in order to accomplish all that God set out for him to do.  He always made it a priority to spend time with the Father before serving others, yet he was the perfect servant (Matt. 20:28; Lk. 22:27; Jn. 13:5; Phil. 2:7ff). How much more important for those of us who are called to pastoral ministry to do likewise.

The minister needs this time of godly nurturing in order to use the good gift(s) God has placed upon him. In fact, he is called upon to do at least a couple of things:

First, to fan the flame or rekindle the gift(s) of God in his life (1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6); and second, to saturate his life with and properly handle God’s Word (1 Tim. 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:14-16). The minister of God does this by (1) always growing in grace and truth (2 Pet. 3:18),  (2) holding fast to and being nourished by the Word of God (1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:14-17; Tit. 1:9), (3) rightly handling God’s Word so as to be approved by him (2 Tim. 2:15), (4) contending for the truth of God’s Word (1 Tim. 1:18-19), and finally (5) by guarding the Truth (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:12-14).

So, pastor, here are some closing and heart-provoking questions to consider:

  • Are you actively nurturing your life in Jesus Christ?
  • How are you fanning the flame or rekindling the gifts God has given you?
  • In what way are you saturating your life with and handling God’s Word?

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A Guide for Making Wise Decisions (as a godly leader)

A. Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

1.  There are several principles regarding decision-making can be seen

from this verse as well as from other verses (Prov. 14:12; 18:12;

28:26; Jer. 17:9; James 4:13-16; Gal. 6:7-8; John 15:5):

a.  God wants his people to be humble and to approach him

humbly.

b.  He wants us to realize that we must consider who we are

before him and recognize just what our abilities truly are.

c.   And even when we think everything is right, trusting in our

ways or methods will fail.

2.   Keep your priorities in sight.

a.  Your primary priority is your relationship with God.

b.  Your secondary priorities can be organized by determining:

(1)  What is required?

(2) What gives the greatest return?

(3) What will be the reward? –  John Maxwell

I was forced to re-evaluate my priorities.  What did God want me to

do on earth?  What was He seeking?  Educated Christians?

“Successful” pastors?  Popular writers?  No.  At least, these are not number

one on His list.  He was seeking worshippers!  He was looking for men

and women who knew Him.  “The people who know their God will

display strength and take action” (Daniel 11:32).  In fact, the Scriptures

teach, “The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that

He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His”

(2 Chronicles 16:9).

– Irwin Lutzer in Failure, the Backdoor to Success

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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B. Proverbs 4:26-27 tells us to “Make level paths for your feet and take

only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or to the left. Keep

your foot from evil.”

1. A principle that can be derived from this is:

a.  Pursue realistic courses or options, and pursue those paths

that seem to be firm.

b. Don’t be distracted by wrong goals, motives or pursuits.

2.  Some questions you can ask:

a.      Are my options realistic?

b.      Are any of my options unrealistic?

c.      Is my heart’s motive pure in this?

d.      Will this choice further my relationship with the Lord

or hinder it?

e.      Which choice will give God the greater glory, if any?

f.       Do any of my options violate Scripture?

C. Make your plans by seeking advice. (Proverbs 9:8-9; 11:14; 15:22;

20:18; 24:6)

1.   A principle here would be:  Look to those who can offer advice

(biblical, with common sense, etc.) and give guidance, such as elders

and those who have gone through a similar experience (and learned

from it) (Eccles. 5:1-7; 9:17-18).

Warning, as Pastor Robert Needham has said, “Do not make

you decision one the basis of the experience of others! It is

absolutely impossible for you to know all the hidden variables

that entered into their circumstances and decision(s). This is

not meant to invalidate the counsel of parents and others in

authority, but to avoid the trap of assuming that other’s

experiences are a suitable model for your decisions (2 Cor.

10:12; Eccles. 7:10).”

 

2. The best advice, of course, is from the Lord. Seek him through

prayer and ask for his direction. (Matt. 7:7-11; 21:21-22; John 14:14;

15:7; Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 3:17)

3.  Some questions you can ask:

a.  What does God say from his Word about the question(s) at

hand?

b.  Who do I know that can offer straightforward advice?

c.   What elders can I seek out who can make some wise

suggestions or give insight?

d.   Are there others who have gone through the same kind of

experience or have had to make the same kind of decisions

that might have “hindsight wisdom?”

D.  The way of a foolish person is right in his own eyes, but a wise person

listens to counsel  (Proverbs 12:15)

1.  A  Principle:  Seeking to be wise, I will consider the advice I have

been given, and will listen intently, even when it goes against what

I want.

2.  A few questions to consider:

a.  Am I seeking the advice of others in order to find someone

who will give me what I want to hear?

b.   Am I listening intently to the advice of others and seriously

considering what they have to offer?

c.  Am I listening intently to the advice of Scripture and the Holy

Spirit?

d.  Am I willing to take risks or make changes if this is God’s will

for my life?

E.  A person who lacks judgment enjoys his foolishness, but one who is filled

with understanding keeps a straight course (Proverbs 15:21).

1.  A Principle: Bliss or feeling happy about something doesn’t make a

decision right.

Being a biblically wise person (seeking to think God’s thoughts after

Him) will help me keep a good course of direction in a diligent

manner. Wavering is a pleasure for the fool.

2.  Some questions you could ask:

a.  Do I find more comfort and security in not making decisions

than in making one?

b.  Am I seeking to think God’s thoughts about this matter?

c.  Have I searched the Scriptures to see if there is anything that

speaks to these issue(s)?

3.  It is wrong to have a mind that nearly always wavers back and forth,

or is indecisive. This is especially true of a leader. Leaders who

cannot make decisions are not leaders at all.  (Rom. 14:5; James

1:5-8; 5:12)

.

Be decisive.  A leader is a decision maker, not a consensus seeker.  If you are going

to introduce significant innovations, know that you will have to make some tough

calls and will probably offend some good people by virtue of your decisions.  Be

sensitive and flexible, yes, but be firm in pursuing your convictions. George Barna,

edit, Leaders on Leadership p. 208

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah cries out, “How long will you go limping with two different

opinions: if the Lord is God follow him; but if Baal then follow him.” A leader

cannot be paralyzed by indecisiveness. He will take risks rather than do nothing.

He will soak himself in prayer and in the Word and then rest himself in God’s

sovereign as he makes decisions, knowing that he will very likely make some

mistakes.  John Piper from an article The Marks of a Spiritual Leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4. James 3:17 gives you direction for making decisions. Notice how

this verse can provide you with a seven-fold decision making process:

a.  Is the decision pure. Does it separate me from sin and evil?

Does it promote moral holiness?

b.   Is the decision peaceable? That is, does it promote peace?

This does not mean that just because you feel peaceful about

the decision then it is a right decision. The emotion of peace

can mean that you are relieved that you have found the

means to shirk responsibility. It can mean that you have

found a way to absolve you for doing something you did not

want to do. It could mean that you are pleased you have

decided to do something you wanted, but your conscience has

been seared sufficiently enough to repel any conviction about

a bad or sinful decision.

On the other hand, you should not make any decision if your

conscience is troubled. Now this means that your conscience

should be informed as much as possible from God’s Word.

Sometimes your conscience is bothered because making a

decision requires making an uncomfortable but needed

change; or because it goes against the culture you were

brought up in. If your conscience is bothered, then continue

to look into the matter and seek as much information and

counsel as you can before making a decision. As Robert

Needham has said, “If this principle (of conscience) is

violated, the end result is seldom a happy one…” The old

statement is often true, “If in doubt, don’t.” (Eccles. 1:18;

Rom. 14:13-23; 1 Cor. 8:7-13; 10:23-31)

c.  Is it gentle (forbearing, considerate)?

d.  Is it reasonable (willing to yield)?

Dr. Robert Stuart makes the following recommendation for

trying to figure out the reasonableness of the matter:

(1) Divide a page in to two sides and label one side “pros” and

the other side “cons.”

(2) List all of the pros and cons as you can possibly think of.

(3) Go back and label all of the pros and cons with “A” for critically

important, “B” for  important, and  “C” for not that important

(4) Put the list away and take time to pray for guidance and

wisdom.

(5) Go back and change all of the “B’s” into either “A’s” or “C’s”

(6) Now throw all of your “C’s” away and consider only what you

have left.

e.  Is it full of mercy or compassion?

f.   Is it something that will produce good fruit? Will you get a good

return, is it of value or profitable (not necessarily in terms of

monetary rewards)?

g. Is it without favoritism or prejudice?

h.  Is genuine, sincere or without hypocrisy?

F.  Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that

prevails (16:33; 19:21).

1. Principle: No matter how hard I plan to do things, ultimately it is

God’s Sovereign plan for my life that succeeds.

2.  A wise leader will recognize God’s authority, presence and power

in everything. He will understand that only God can bless anything

and everything at all (Psa. 37:4-5; Matt. 6:19-34;  Jn 8:31-36; 15:1-7;

Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 3:17; James 1:5-8).

3.  Some helpful questions you could ask:

a.   Have I committed this decision to the Lord? (In other words,

have I told Him that I will rest in the knowledge that He is

control ultimately, no matter what decision I make?)

b.  Have I purposed in my heart not to worry, but rather to give

thanks for the process and for the outcome?

c. Have I made the commitment to do what is right before the

Lord?

G.  There is great counsel and sound wisdom in God and His Word.

Seeking God’s wisdom is understanding and great power for success

(Proverbs 8:14).

A Principle: Success is always linked to godly wisdom and good counsel.

The person who plans well will often “win” or succeed.

 

(c) D. Thomas Owsley

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