Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Needs of a Godly Church Leader - Part 1

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, August 28, 2011

1 Timothy 4:1-16, “  Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.  If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. These things command and teach.  Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

What does it mean, what is required to lead in God’s church?  As we count down the days till we participate in the process of God’s raising up those He would have lead in this congregation, we have been privileged to examine, and challenged as we’ve examined, what God’s Word has to teach us about Church Leadership. 

We’ve looked at the passage in 1 Peter 5, where we found out that to lead in God’s Church – simply put – a man must be a Christian, he must truly be born again, and if he isn’t, he has no business in that position of influence.  Secondly, we observed that men of influence in God’s church, godly church leaders, must be aware of the needs of the people.  They must see the flock, and even the lost, as God sees them, as Christ sees them, and then, they must have a desire, an ability, and certainly an opportunity, an open door, to meet those needs.  Such is the nature of the call, or calling, to godly church leadership.

Last week, we rehearsed some of the prayers of a godly church leader, beginning with the simply, humble petition, “Lord, help me to be the godly church leader you want me to be.”  “Help me, Lord, to be a disciple-making teacher, help me to be a single-minded soldier/athlete, help me to be an enduring farmer, a diligent workman, a sanctified vessel, a gentle servant, Lord, I want to be, I know You want me to be, yes, God, HELP me to be a godly church leader…”

Before we move on to what we must take in from this passage of Scripture, allow me to point out, to suggest something to all of you, for your consideration.  Chew on this one with me, will you?  EVERY MAN, every boy, who, the Lord-willing, will one day be a man, is what?  He is a potential church leader!  Every man, every man-in-the-making, is a potential church leader.  Fathers, mothers, spouses, sisters, brothers, what are you doing to assist those men and future men in your life, in becoming what God intends for them to be?  What are you doing to help them become fit, equipped, qualified, to lead in marriage, in family and then, in the church? 

As we think again about church leadership, godly church leadership, and, in particular, as we look today at the subject of the priorities of church leadership; allow me to open up the subject this way: 3 little quips, each with a blank for you to fill in.  Number one: “As the husband goes, so goes the ______.”  Number two, “As the father goes, so go the _________.”  And, then, number three, “As the shepherd goes, so go the ______.” 

When we’re talking about leadership, the kind of leadership God intends for marriage, for family, for the church, what are we ultimately talking about?  We’re talking about INFLUENCE, aren’t we?  “As the husband goes, so goes the wife…”  That’s marital influence, leadership, either for good or for evil, in marriage.  Then there’s, “As the father goes, so go the children.”  That’s family influence, isn’t it?  Then, number three, the area of influence in the church, leadership of the flock of God, remember?  The quip went something like this: “As the shepherd or shepherds go, so go the sheep.” 

What are the PRIORITIES, not the ‘maybes”, not the “could bes”, but what the “must bes”, the PRIORITIES of the godly church leader?  I know it’s going to sound strange, perhaps even like a contradiction, to what we’ve learned already from our look at this subject the last few weeks, but hear me out, please.  As important as it is for a godly church leader to be aware of others’ needs, and to be asking God to aim him to meet those needs, listen, before a godly man, a church leader or leader-in-the-making can even get to that point, he must first come to grips with what he needs to be able, to be prepared and equipped to do so. 

1 Timothy 4:6-16 – What does a good servant of the Lord, a godly church leader, need to be fit, to be equipped to lead in his marriage, in his family, and in the church?

Verse 6 – He needs good food…  “If you instruct the brethren in these things,” Paul urges his young colleague Timothy, “[then] you will be a good minister (the word there is ‘servant’, ‘deacon’) of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”  You’ve heard the old adage, haven’t you?  And, if we look at our body, perhaps we’ll know the truth of the adage.  It goes like this: “We are what we eat…”  Is it wise, is it LOGICAL, for us to expect a man, or man-in-the-making to be or become a godly husband/marriage leader, a godly father/family leader and a godly shepherd/church leader, if we are watching him, maybe even encouraging him, to fill up on ding-dongs, French fries and diet coke?  How is it, think it through with me, will you?  How is it that a man is to be or become a good minister of Jesus Christ, instructing the brethren, beginning with his own wife and children, in the good things of God, in the nourishing, muscle-building things of God’s Word, if he is not first feed himself that kind of food??

What is it that a godly man, a godly marriage, family and church leader – needs – first and foremost?  He needs food.  He needs to ask God, seek God’s Word, asking the Lord, “Would you feed me, would nourish me and strengthen me in the words of faith, and of the good doctrine…” 

By the way, fellows, maybe even you Ladies…  Are you wondering if you could see a ‘menu’?  As your ‘waiter’ this morning, allow me to suggest to you the ‘Red Letter Soup’ as your first choice.  Yes, my friends, you can go a long ways, find a great deal of spiritual nourishment, from those ‘Red Letter Words’, the Words of Jesus, from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  What does a good servant of the Lord need first?  He needs good food.

Secondly, 1 Timothy 4:7, he needs, you need, I need, good exercise.  Now about this time, I know – fellows – you’re going to think that I’m starting to sound too much like a doctor, and men, most men, yes, even this man, hates to go to the doctor.  But, look – listen – it’s not what you think.  It’s not back to boot camp and push-ups, sit-ups, and calestenics.  Nor, is it P.E. class all over again.  “Hooray,” right?  No, look at the text with me, will you? Verses 7 & 8, Paul continues his instruction, he continues pointing young Timothy in the direction of godly manhood, when he declares, “But reject profane and old wives’ fables”.  What’s Paul talking about here?  He’s talking about bad ‘food’, about spiritual food that tears down rather than nourishes up - reject it – strike it off the ‘menu’!  And, instead, what are you to do?  Along with that good food, starting with the red letter soup, and then good back to places like Genesis and Exodus, and Psalms and Proverbs, along with that good food, Paul urges us to add in good exercise.  It’s time to go to God’s gym, so that you can “exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness, become more like Jesus Christ, more patient, more tender-hearted, more discerning, more humble, more faithful and so on, godliness, the object, the goal of Spiritual exertion, spiritual exercise, what is the ultimate outcome of godliness?  “Bodily exercise profits a little, it rewards you and me with only a temporary pay-off, but godliness is profitable for all things”, it will benefit you in every area of your life, and, not only that, but look.  It also has built into it a promise like no other promise.  “Godliness… has promise of the life that now is, and of the life that is to come…” 

What does a good – a godly – marriage, family and church leader need?  He needs good exercise… By the way, as your ‘personal trainer’ for the day, do you mind if I make a recommendation as to where to begin?  First step in a good, spiritual ‘work-out’ begins right here, on your knees, on your face, stretched out, humbly prostrated before the Lord of the universe, the God of your salvation! 

What is it that a good, a godly leader needs, if he’s going to lead his wife, his children, and the flock of God, in the paths of righteousness?  He needs good food.  Secondly, he needs good exercise.  Then, thirdly, he needs to ask God to develop in him a good courage.  1 Timothy 4:10 – “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe…”  A good and godly leader needs a good courage.  Fellows, how many of you have ever played the role of ‘Monday-morning quarter back’?  How many of us have got all the maneuvers of ‘Second-guess Sam’ down pat?  How many of us, from our vantage point on the sidelines, played end, guard and tackle (end of the bench, guarding the water bucket, tackling anyone who gets near it), know what we would have done if WE were the leaders?  It’s easy to throw ‘potshots’ at the guy on the field, isn’t it?  But, what happens when the ‘Coach’ calls you’re your name, and says, ‘Kautt, time for you to play quarterback?’  What then?  It’s time for some courage, isn’t it?  Godly leaders, you want to know what I think keeps many a man from stepping out on the field to do battle against enemies like greed, and pride and lust?  What keeps them from taking on marriage, family and
church-wrecking things, yes, even in their own lives, like pornography, and gambling and alcohol and laziness?  COURAGE.  They lack courage!  They know that to face and to face-up-to enemies like that in their lives and in others’ lives, they will also have to endure the blood, the sweat and even the tears that go with it, and they’re just not ready to do it!  Yes, they know, that to step out on that field is to open oneself up to all the ridicule, the criticism and the out and out bashing of the Monday-morning, Sunday after church, quarterbacks, the Second-guess Sams, and the end, guard and tackle.  And they’re just not up to it!  So, what do they need?  Fellow, what do we need, to lead in our marriages, our families, and in God’s church?  We need courage!  And, you wives, mothers, sisters, and even brothers, Christian brothers, what can you do to help them?  You can EN-courage them!  You can pray for them, exhort them from this Book, and cheer them on, so as to put courage into them! 

What does a godly leader need?  Fellows, there’s more to learn from this passage regarding this subject, and Lord-willing, next time we will take a look at those things.  But, in the meantime, while you and I are prayerfully evaluating the possibility of our taking the lead, of our answering the ‘Coach’s’ call to step onto the field, you ought to ask yourself this one significant question: if I am to lead my wife, my children, and God’s people, as Christ wants me to lead them, what do I need?  I need good food, I need good exercise, and I need good courage.  Ask the Lord to give you what you need, to lead, will you? 

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