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Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Transforming Gift of Leadership

Introduction
The Transformers was one of my favorite cartoons and toys when I was a kid in the 80s.  Optimus Prime was the leader of the Autobots, the heroes of the story who fought for good and to protect the people of Earth.  Optimus Prime was a robot who could transform into a tractor trailer.  He was one of the strongest Transformers, but he was also a wise and noble leader who always put the good of others before his own.  I mention Optimus Prime's leadership, because I want to talk about the transforming spiritual gift of leadership today.

You see, when a person chooses to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives them a special talent to serve in the Church and help transform the world.  Romans 12:6-8 teaches that some receive the gift of Prophecy, others the gifts of Serving, or Teaching, Encouraging, Giving, or Kindness.  But today, I want to talk about the spiritual gift of leadership.

I am an elder in the United Methodist Church.  That’s the technical term in the United Methodist Church for someone who has been fully trained, examined, approved, and ordained as a minister to lead a Methodist church.  It’s sort of ironic for me to think of myself as an elder.  On the one hand, my kids would agree; they think I’m old!  On the other hand, at 45, I’m still younger than most other United Methodist pastors.  Most United Methodist pastors are between 55-70 years old.  But the world elder to describe a Christian minster comes from the Greek word presbyteros used in the New Testament.  In the early New Testament Church, the leaders of various congregations were called presbyteros or elders.  They were people the Holy Spirit equipped with leadership.  Often, elders were older people with more experience.  But we also see examples of young people leading the church, like Timothy whom the Holy Spirit equipped to be an elder in the Church.  So age is not what’s critical for leadership.  What’s important is the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Listen to the Word of God.

1 Peter 5:1-4
1And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

Caesar’s Leadership vs. Christ’s Leadership
Immediately we see some important aspects of Holy Spirit inspired Christian leadership that set it apart from worldly leadership.  In the ancient world during New Testament times, world leaders were very different from Christian leaders.  Caesar, the emperor of Rome, was the ultimate example of a non-Christian leader.  Caesar lorded his position over everyone in his kingdom.  His power led him to think he was a god and that everyone was put on earth to serve him.  Caesar even expected people to die for him; sometimes for frivolous reasons.  Gladiators in the Roman Colosseum were forced to fight each other to the death for the amusement of the Caesar.  People obeyed Caesar out of fear of death.  Now let’s contrast leadership in Caesar’s kingdom to the leadership of Jesus in the Kingdom of God.

In God’s Kingdom, Jesus is Lord.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  John 1:2-5 tells us, “[Jesus] existed in the beginning with God.  God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  [Jesus] gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”  If anyone is worthy of worship, honor, total devotion, and absolute obedience, it is Jesus (not Caesar).  And yet, Jesus did not use his position to “lord it over” his people the way Caesar did.  Instead, Philippians 2:6-8 tells us “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

In other words, Caesar's leadership was about glorifying himself.  Jesus' leadership was to humble himself.  Caesar made his kingdom do what was best for Caesar.  Jesus always did what was best for the Kingdom.  Caesar indulged his own privileges as the leader.  Jesus gave up his privileges for others.  Caesar made everyone serve him.  Jesus served everyone else.  Caesar made others die for him.  Jesus died for everyone else so they could be forgiven and have eternal life.

Lead Like Jesus
1 Corinthians 11:1 says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  If you follow Christ, you have the potential to lead.  Every Christian is a leader is some sense.  You might not think you are, but you are.  If you are a parent, you are leading your children.  If you are grandparent, you are leading your own kids as well as your grand kids.  If you are a young person, you are influencing your friends.  If you go to church, you are leading someone  doesn't go to church but knows you do and thinks you are an example of how a Christian lives.  Are you leading them well or poorly?

If you are a Christian, you are leading someone.  So, we all have a flock (so to speak), whether it is our kids, grand kids, our friends, our coworkers, or our neighbors.  As 1 Peter 5:2-3 says, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.


The Spiritual Gift of Leadership
The Holy Spirit gives some people the special ability to lead.  God has always used special leaders to guide His people.  He used Joseph to save his family and the Egyptians from starvation during a 7-year famine.  Then, God used Moses to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt.  And God used Joshua to lead His people into the Promised Land.  Without godly leaders the masses would not get anything done.  Just like in these Old Testament stories, the Holy Spirit of God raises up leaders today to lead in the Church.  Could leadership be your spiritual gift?  Well, let’s see.  Here are some traits of leaders.  Do you have any of these?

Leaders See Where Everyone Needs to Go – God gives leaders a vision for where He wants His people to go and enables those leaders to get people to follow them there.  Think of Moses.  He was just out in the wilderness tending a flock of sheep and he saw a burning bush.  God spoke from the bush and told Moses, "Go lead my people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land."  You might not think you are a leader.  You might say, "I'm not a leader!  I can't do that!  No one would listen to me!  Besides, I no good a getting in front of people and talking!"  Funny, that's exactly what Moses said.  And we all know he was a leader.  He led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt!  So maybe you are a leader, if you see where everyone needs to go and feel God calling to you to lead them there.

Leaders Garner Loyalty – You can’t lead if no one will follow.  Someone with the spiritual gift of leadership earns people’s respect, trust, and loyalty.  Do people listen to your opinion and want to follow you?  Do you know how to garner their respect?  Then you’re probably a leader.  Now, be careful to love the people and build their loyalty, because they might have to follow you through some difficult terrain.  There may come times where they question why they are still following you because they don't understand.  So build their trust now and it will pay off later.

Leaders Are Usually A Few Steps Ahead – Imagine a tour group led through a museum by a tour guide.  The tour guide is probably walking a few steps ahead to show everyone where to go.  The guide is leading the group.  Leaders are usually out in front showing the way.  They have seen where everyone needs to go and now they are showing the way.  Therefore, leaders are usually the first ones to arrive and an event.  They may also be the last ones to leave, because they're making sure no one get's left behind.

Leaders Are Able to Delegate – It’s impossible for leaders to do everything that needs to be done.  It’s not that a leader thinks they are too good to do something.  There’s just too much to do and the leader has other things to do that only the leader can do.  A good leader knows they need help and also knows the people they lead need to be involved.  So a gifted leader learns what are people’s abilities and plugs them in in the right ways.  Giving people something to do helps everyone move forward and be more effective and develops each individual’s abilities.  It even raises up new leaders within the team.

Leaders Overcomes Resistance – Most people just want to remain comfortable, right where they are now.  They are wary of change and afraid of the unknown.  If a leader is doing their job, they are probably leading people out of their comfort zones toward a new and better place, but that doesn’t mean people will go willingly at first.  They will resist.  And there may also be resistance up ahead from the forces of darkness that don’t want God’s people to be on the move.  So a leader has find strength from God to overcome resistance from within and without in order to lead God’s people forward.

Leaders Are Able to Make Quick Decisions and Be Decisive – Sometimes, there is time to sit and ponder a decision and some very important decisions require a lot of time and study.  However, the pace of leading God’s people is often so fast that there just isn’t time to agonize over every minor detail for a long time.  Leaders always follow God's leading and know when it is important to go slow and when to make a quick decision and move fast.  A leader surrounds themselves with lots of wise and conscientious people and listens to good advice.  In the end, the leader makes a decisive decision and loyal people follow them wherever God is leading them.

Is God calling you to lead?  If He calls you to lead, the Holy Spirit with supernaturally enable you to lead.  Don't neglect the gift of the Holy Spirit within you.  Be faithful.  "Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.  And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor." (1 Peter 5:2-4)

A Prayer for Godly Leaders
"Lord, God Almighty, lead us forward.  Raise up godly leaders among your people to guide us where you want us to go.  There are many among us who are afraid to lead or don't know or think they can.  Fill them with Your Holy Spirit to impart the gift of leadership.  Help them to trust You, to follow you, and so to lead the ones You have placed in their care.  That Your Name may be glorified and Your Kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen."


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

kings and queens


Introduction
A scientist had a meeting with God and said, "God, we can now make clones and create human life and I think we can take care of ourselves and don't need you anymore."  God said, "OK, but before you go, let's have a contest to see who can make a human out of dirt the fastest."  The scientist looked down at the dirt and grabbed a handful and said, "OK, let's do it."  But God said, "No.  You go get your own dirt."

God spoke and the whole universe was created.  He made everything we see (and even what we can't see).  That's why God owns it all and is Master of it all.  Our relationship with God is not a democracy.  We don't get to vote on whether He rules.  He rules because he owns it.  And you can't move to the moon if you don't like it, because God owns that too.  

All throughout the Bible, God is called Lord.  We don't use that word much today in America, because we live in a democracy.  A lord is one having power & authority over others because they own the property and/or are superior to all others.  God is Lord because He owns it all--including you and me.  Furthermore, God is superior to all others; there is no one better qualified to rule.

A king rules, but also has the right to appoint others to rule with him.  Today, I want to discuss how God--the King of kings and Lord of lords--chooses special people to be kings and queens in His Kingdom.

1 Peter 2:8-9
8“He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.  But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

The Stumbling Block and a Chosen People
The other day, I came in from the garage to wash my hands in the basement bathroom.  I've walked down that hallway a million times and could easily do it with my eyes closed.  That's why it didn't bother me that the lights were off and I had to walk walk down the hall in the dark.  So I was walking along in my own little world not paying much attention, when bam!  I tripped over something.  Someone had left a book bag in the middle of the hallway floor.  You don't expect there to be a stumbling block like that in your pathway.  Who leaves a book bag in the middle of the hallway?
That's how Jesus came into our world.  1 Peter 2:8 says Jesus is a stone that makes people stumble..."  He caused the Roman Empire to stumble 2,000 years ago.  They were going along thinking everything was fine. They thought, “We rule the world! No one can stop us!"  Caesar thought he was a god and owned the whole world.  And then Jesus, the Son of God, came and showed everyone different.  The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus' day thought, “We are better than everyone else!” The Pharisees tried to prove they were holier than everyone else by follow the absolute letter of God's Law in the Torah.  They thought their righteousness would earn God's favor and bring about the reign of the Messiah.  And yet, when Jesus, the Messiah, actually came, they rejected him.  He was their stumbling block too.  Jesus is a stumbling block for people today as well.  People today try to live their life the way they want without any regard to God's will; they indulge their own selfish ambitions, but Jesus trips them up.  

Throughout history and even today, people stumble because they “do not obey God’s word.” (vs. 8) What is God’s Word?  Some say that God's Word is the Bible.  The Bible is God's Word, but people can use the Bible to say anything they want.  (The Pharisees tried to use God's Word to reject Jesus Christ, the Son of God.)  Jesus is God's Word.  However, few people really know who Jesus is and what he actually said and taught.  Many people today want to make Jesus into some mythical figure who loved everybody and carried around baby lambs everywhere; but they never look into the Bible to see who Jesus, the Word of God, really is and what he taught.

We find God’s True Word when we go to the Bible to see Jesus.  You can't just use the Bible to justify your actions or as a weapon against other people.  You have to read the Bible while listening obediently to what God says through Jesus Christ.  You have to humble yourself.  Jesus’ true followers hear and obey God’s Word.  1 Peter 2:9 says those who hear and obey God’s Word are special.

We are special because we are chosen by God.  God specifically selects people who listen and obey.  Of all the people in the world, God passes over some of the most talented, wealthiest, mor obvious choices, and instead intentionally selects people willing to be humble and listen and obey His Word.

We are also special because we are royal priests.  Many people get excited about news of the royal family in England--what they say, how they dress, who they are marrying.  (I never understood this because they are not my royal family.  No disrespect intended, but I'm an American and I don't see the fascination for Americans.)  God's Word says Jesus' followers are royal.  That's something to get excited about!  And it says we are a royal priesthood.  What does a priest do?  They pray for people, heal people, forgive sins, bring wholeness, and help people connect to God.  Well, if you listen and obey the Word of God, you are a priest.  You can pray for people, heal people, forgive sins, bring wholeness, and help people connect with the One True God!  That's pretty special!

But there's more.  We are special because we are a holy nation.  Together, all the followers of Christ are God’s special nation (or Kingdom).  And we are God’s very own possession.  You know, people take care of the things they own.  If you rent a house or a car, you should take care of it.  But if you own the house or the car, it is even more special to you and you will pay special attention to caring for those things you actually own.  And no one is more qualified or capable and guaranteed to take car of their possessions than God.   God takes care of His stuff so He's gonna take care of you.

Luke 22:28-30
“You have stayed with me in my time of trial. 29 And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right 30 to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

3 Important Lessons
There are three important lessons I want you to hear from Jesus' word in Luke 22:28-30. 

Number 1. Stay with Jesus – We are God's Kingdom, His royal priesthood, but we still live in enemy territory. Most of the world still does not yet obey God’s Word. They were so threatened by the Lord, they crucified Him.  Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Do you trust Jesus enough to stay with him, even when there’s trouble?

Number 2. Share the Royal Feast – Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords and He invites his followers to eat and drink at His table in His Kingdom. The greatest example of the Kingdom Feast available in the world today is the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion, the Eucharist).  You should partake of it often.  For in doing so, we sit at the table with the King and we remember what He did for us and how it changes everything and we also see how to live and find the strength we need to do it.

Number 3. We are kings and queens – Jesus said we will sit on thrones and rule the twelve tribes of Israel.  Who sits on a throne?  Kings and queens sit on thrones.  I have much more I want to say about what it means to rule as a king or queen in God's Kingdom and I will next week.  However, for today, I just want you to know and be encouraged that Jesus says you are a king or a queen.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Proverbs Day 28

Read Proverbs 28
It's just not good when everyone makes up their own rules.  A family, an organization, a nation needs good leaders.  
People rise and fall with the leaders they admire and follow.  Leaders come in all shapes and sizes: a parent, a boss, a pastor, an elected official.  Others are cultural leaders--athletes, artists, characters, public figures.  Sometimes you are a leader.  

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 28:2, 4, 5, & 16
2 The country is in chaos when it's full of rebellious people who do whatever they want; but someone with insight, who understands the way things work, can keep the nation alive.

4 People who ignore God’s Law revere wicked people, but those who obey God’s Law stand against them.

5 Evil people don’t even understand justice, but people who follow the Lord know right from wrong.

16 An unskillful leader without understanding is an oppressive tyrant; but someone who hates greed and corruption will live a long time.

We become the people we admire and follow.  Therefore, it is essential we lead and follow wisely.  Know God and His Word so you can truly discern bad leadership from good.

Prayer
"Jesus, You are the perfect example of a good leader.  Lord, help me to walk with you closely everyday that I might prosper and know how to lead others Your way.  And give us more leaders like You.  Amen."