Saturday, September 28, 2013

Spiritual Leadership

This is a slightly reworded repost from 2010.

Spiritual leadership without character is only religious activity,
possible religious business or, even worse, hypocrisy......
The qualified leader is a man of the Book, using it not just
to prepare sermons and preaching notes, but, first and foremost,
to prepare himself.

James M. George
The Call to Pastoral Ministry
Pastoral Ministry
(How to Shepherd Biblically)
Page 91

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you;
and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7

How important it is for those of us who occupy a place of spiritual leadership to be men of character, character forged by the Holy Spirit and formed by the Word of God.  A daunting responsibility, providing spiritual leadership, a responsibility that underscores the Lord's admonition in James 3:1 "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." This is why the Lord stresses Godly character in His requirements for those who occupy the post of pastor; and why Paul buffeted his flesh, so that after he had preached to others he would not be disqualified.

The landscape of the church is littered with the moral failures of those who failed to watch themselves.  In fact, it has become much too common.  And it is just not in the area of sexual immorality, as noted by the furor over a Christian college/seminary president whose personal testimony and spiritual resume are undergoing public scrutiny for hyperbole, embellishment, and poetic license (to say it nicely).  There is also the issue of the SBC having been taken to task by those within its own ranks for inflated membership numbers and an evangelastical (intentional spelling) way of counting baptisms.

These are the obvious, the news grabbing and headline making, but what about the ones that don't make the news, the ones that cause damage just as great?  I was reading an internet article about how Peacemaker ministries worked to reconcile a church's pastor and elders after temper, egos, and innuendos had split them and the church.  What about the detrimental effects of pride, stubborness, selfishness, ambition, jealousy, unforgivness, greed,  and gossip?  What about those that fear man more than they fear God, those that are men-pleasers vs God-pleasers, and those who would compromise rather than confront? What about the small things that are done daily that add up over time?

I remember hearing Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, preach several years ago, and in his sermon he was stressing the need for moral integrity.  He said that he had asked God to take him home before He let Bill commit adultery.  Admirable, yes, but for most of us, we are on guard against the big A; but it is the perniciousness of the so called small sins that we ought to be on guard against as well.  Is our prayer, "Lord, lead me away from temptation in the areas where I am weak and most easily tempted, and let not evil have any way with me. Please keep me from causing any of the brethren to stumble.  Help me to adorn the doctrine I preach with the life that I live.  Help me to do what is right, to love what is good, and to walk humbly with You.  Let not anyone, saved or unsaved, look at me and cry hypocrite.  Let me be at home what I am publicly."

Who is adequate for this?  None of us outside of the power that God supplies.  There is a greater burden, a greater responsibility, for those of us whom God has called into ministry; but there is a greater grace available as well.  Let us be on our guard, empowered by the grace of God, so that sin will not have its way with us, not derail us, nor render us impotent in our efforts to advance the kingdom of God in our own lives, so that we will be effective in advancing His kingdom in the lives of those whom He appointed to our shepherding.  Let not the sin in our own lives be an impediment, an excuse, for those in our flock in dealing with the sin in their own lives.

Father, guard our hearts and our minds.  Work within us only that which is pleasing in Your sight.  We are frail and weak in our own strength, so help us by the strength which You supply to live a life worthy of the gospel of Your Son, and a life worthy of the calling with which we have been called.  Help us to be an example to the flock, living a life worthy of admiration and imitation.  Guard us from our own selves, and give us a sensitivity to the sin which so easily entangles us.  Help us to fight the good fight of faith and finish our course without disqualification.  AMEN.

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