The apostle Paul is a great example of one of the greatest leaders of human history. (Read Ephesians if you doubt this) In the course of his life he became more and more committed to God’s infinite grace. He understood the way, Jesus Christ, and as a result grew to be one of the great influences in Christianity. He was a leader in the true sense of the Word (no pun intended).
His leadership qualities of continuing to ‘press toward the mark’ drove his growth. The mark was the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:10-14 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
A lot of books have been written on leadership in the hopes of isolating a set pattern to identify with. ‘Leader’ does not mean the same as a manager. A manager maintains and directs the status quo. ‘Leader’ does not mean the same as head ‘honcho’ or ‘super brain’ or ‘front man’. Leadership is not positional. A leader is not necessarily a great salesman. Salesmanship sells the moment, leadership instills enduring growth in others (Read Ephesians again!). A true leader is hardly aware of the tag ‘leader’ in his life, he is way to busy going somewhere. He is not a leader for the sake of being a leader.
In the Old Testament, Israel was always looking for a King. Lots of problems resulted. It was not God’s heart to set up a monarchy. Theocracy (God’s in charge) was His first choice! Paul was not a king. What position did he hold? At the end of his life he had absolutely no title! He loved the Lord Jesus Christ and he only wanted people to ‘follow his ways that be in Christ’ and Christ was the way to God. Up until he hit to the road to Damascus he was quite recognized as a man of importance. That day changed his life. His path was altered to a point of setting in his heart the seed of true leadership, the heart of a man born again of God’s spirit!
Monthly Archives: October 2010
The word ‘truth’ or ‘true’ is found 7 times in the book of Ephesians. It is a book is about the all truth of the grace administration. Four of the uses are found in the fourth chapter from 4:15-25.
The fourth chapter of Ephesians is about how we live with the greatness of what God has provided in Chapters 1-3. Chapters 1-3 are about our position in Christ. We are seated in the heavenlies. In Chapters 4-6 we learn about how we walk and function here and now from that vantage point.
We mature as Christians as we carry out Ephesians 4:15. Without truth, what is there to speak about? God is love. Without the truth, how can we really love someone. Nothing great happens without truth! It is our responsibility to carry out the speaking the truth in love. That is how relationships are really supposed to work.
Communication skills are very important in our relationships with others. God says in Ephesians 4:29:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Corrupt communication involves the transference of thoughts that spoil, destroy and put the receiver in a worse condition. It does not bring deliverance.The truth ‘sets people free’. In Romans 16:17-18, Paul warns us:
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
To truly live the kind of life God desires for us we must continue in the Word, grow as disciples and our thoughts are centered on ‘whatsoever things are true’ (Romans 4:8).
In the movie ‘The Graduate’, Benjamin has the following dialogue with his father:
Mr. Braddock: What’s the matter? The guests are all downstairs, Ben, waiting to see you.
Benjamin: Look, Dad, could you explain to them that I have to be alone for a while?
Mr. Braddock: These are all our good friends, Ben. Most of them have known you since, well, practically since you were born. What is it, Ben?
Benjamin: I’m just…
Mr. Braddock: About what?
Benjamin: I guess about my future.
Mr. Braddock: What about it?
Benjamin: I don’t know… I want it to be…
Mr. Braddock: To be what?
Benjamin: [looks at his father] … Different.
Haven’t we all gone through this thinking at some time or another? Why are we here? What should we do? Haven’t we all desired to have some meaning to our existence? God, our very own Father has provided some very satisfying answers to this question. ‘Satisfying’ is a very good descriptive of the following verse:
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Effective, productive work stimulates the mind. It is the ‘meat and potatoes’ of life. Are we supposed to guess about this? My earthly Dad (and Mom too!) wanted the very best for my life. Our Heavenly Dad can go beyond ‘best’, being the designer and creator of the universe. He has all the resources to go ‘exceedingly’ beyond anything we could ever ask of think (another Ephesians verse!)
To do what? We enter into a relationship with the most powerful force in the universe to achieve what is really our heart’s desire. Since God is the most powerful force in the universe he had no insecurities or fears about our lives and he offers it to us without being controlling. The only thing that limits us is our ceiling that we put on our lives which can be quite controlling! Remember: The sky isn’t the limit!
Just recently, I was reading a book by Jay Adams, From Forgiven To Forgiving. It is a tremendous book and many of his points reminded me of the Joseph record in the Old Testament. Several years ago, I did a study on Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob. Many chapters in Genesis are devoted to the events in this man’s life. His life was not easy but to his credit he is described as a man on whom the spirit of God resided. Perhaps because of this he had huge challenges, but through them all God guided and strengthened him as he handled them one by one. He is an amazing example of how forgiveness is brought about. He handled things God’s way. He had the humility to not try to outdo God and thus was able to be an instrument of true deliverance.
Forgiveness is a much written about subject. There is no question in my mind that the adversary wants to muddle and twist people’s ideas in this particular area.
Ephesians 4:32 (King James Version)And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
‘Even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’. That sets the standard. Jesus Christ died for our sins once and for all. This doesn’t mean we have to be crucified to serve God but it does mean that we have answers to life’s challenges and that we extend those answers to others. When we teach God’s word to others and help them to apply God’s word to every situation we are ‘kind’.
Joseph’s goal was restoration. His brothers were pretty much a mess and had displayed very cruel behavior toward him in the past. God worked in Joseph’s heart to help facilitate the change that was necessary to cause them to see what changes they needed to make. God knew how to handle them and Joseph carried it out. God knew also that Judah would change and he showed Joseph how to bring that out. The whole record takes place over a substantial amount of time. Several steps were needed. At one point Joseph spoke roughly to them and threw them in prison. It was there that they started to admit their lives had not been sterling and they repented of what they had done to their brother. It is a great record, one to be digested and re-digested.
God is real and he knows the best way to deal with life’s issues. In the age that we live in of secular humanism, we need to take heed to a man like Joseph and how he did things. Our relationships with others should be based on truth, not feeling. Our goal is to help others come up and out of the quicksand of this world. It is a world of competition, strife, ambition, greed and control. We can’t just do that by patting someone on the head and saying nice things. We need to help people by giving them the words of God and telling them how Jesus Christ stood in the gap for us and that we have full access to the throne room of God. That is the promotion of true forgiveness!