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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="2 Timothy 2:2"]You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

A self-centered Christian leader hinders others below him from becoming leaders, let his own position be threatened. Moreover, he ministers in such a way that he makes himself a necessity to those to whom he ministers. This is utterly contrary to God's will. Oswald Chambers once said that anyone who made himself a necessity to some other soul had got out of God's order. God alone is the only absolute necessity to any human soul. May none of us ever try to take that place.

No one is indispensable in Christ's Church. God's work can easily carry on without us. In fact, it can carry on much better without the help of those conceited folk who consider themselves indispensable! We must recognise this fact constantly. And so, we must be willing to withdraw into the background anytime God wants us to. However, the self-centered Christian worker will never accept that. He will want to hold on to his position for as long as possible. Many such "Christian leaders" are rotting away on their "thrones" today, hindering the work of God. They do not know what it is to face graciously into the background and let someone else take their place.

You have probably heard the saying that success without a successor is a failure. Jesus recognised this and trained people to carry on His work. In 3 1/2 years, He had trained people to take over the leadership. Paul recognised the necessity of training other people to carry on the work. In 2 Timothy 2:2, he says, "Now Timothy, what I have committed to you. I want you to pass on to other people who will, in turn, be able to train others (right on up to the fourth generation)" (Paraphrased). What Paul was saying in effect was, "You must ensure that you commit this treasure to others. Don't ever hinder people younger than you, from coming up." The people in the business world recognise this principle too. However, many Christian leaders do not. Truly, "the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light."

It is indeed nothing but self-centeredness that makes a man jealous of someone younger doing things better than he. Cain was jealous of the fact that God had accepted Abel’s and rejected his offering.  If Abel had been older than he, that might have been tolerable. But it was the awful fact that his younger brother was better than he that made him furious enough to slay Abel.

We see the same in the case of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph received Divine revelations, and that made all his ten elder brothers green with jealousy, and they tried to do away with him.

King Saul was jealous of young David, because the women sang, "Saul has slain thousands while David has slain ten thousand." From that day, he determined to kill him. Man's history - and alas, the history of the Christian Church too - is filled with the same story over and over again.

On the other hand, what a refreshing contrast it is to look at a man like Barnabas in the New Testament. He was a senior worker who took the newly-converted Paul of Tarsus under his wing when no one else would accept Paul. Barnabas brought him to the church in Antioch and encouraged him. In Acts chapter 13, we read that Barnabas and Paul went out together on a missionary journey. And when Barnabas saw that God was calling this junior worker, Paul, to a larger ministry than his own, he willingly stepped back and graciously faded into the background. And the phrase, "Barnabas and Paul" changes almost unnoticed to "Paul and Barnabas" in the book of Acts.

What's Next?

The Christian Church suffers today because there are only a few like Barnabas who know what it is to step back and let another be honored. We are willing to step back in matters of no importance. When passing through a door, for example, we do not mind stepping back and permitting another to go through first. But in the realms that matter - such as a position and leadership in the Church - we are not so ready to step back. Our self-life is so deceitful. We can have a false humility in things that don't count. But it is in important matters that we see ourselves as we really are.

Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; & Zac Poonen

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="Genesis 5:1-3"] This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God……………. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth [/ecko_quote]

Devotion

Throughout this week we have been meditating about one of the vital aspects of Church, that is 'Leadership'. It is an often ignored topic although it has a direct impact on the Church. Therefore let us ask God to prepare our minds and hearts so that they are receptive to His revelations while reading these devotions. If there is shallowness in the lives of most believers today, it is because the lives of their leaders are shallow. The people's lives are carnal, because of the leader's life - his thought-life, his relationship with his wife, and children and fellow-workers - is carnal.

A church invariably becomes like its leader. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we see that in each of the seven cases, the Lord spoke the same message to the church as He did to its messenger. Each message concluded with the statement that the Spirit was saying the same thing to that church. Where five messengers (elders) were carnal, their churches were carnal. And where two messengers were spiritual, their churches were spiritual too. The messenger in Laodicea was lukewarm and so was his church. The messenger in Philadelphia was faithful and so was his church.

In Genesis 1, a phrase that occurs frequently is “after their kind”. We read there about fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, plants yielding seed after their kind, the fish and the birds after their kind, and beasts, creeping things and cattle after their kind (verses 11,12,21,25). In creation, everything produces after its own kind.

God created Adam "in the likeness of God" (Gen.5:1). But Adam produced a son "according to his own image" (v.3). He could not produce a son in the likeness of God. He could only produce the one after his own kind.

Spiritually too, we will all produce children according to our own likeness and after our own kind. If we are the intellectual type of individuals, we will produce intellectually-minded people through our ministry. If we are misers, we will produce misers. And if we're haughty and proud, we will only produce haughty and pride people through our ministry. On the other hand, if we have the spirit of a servant, our spiritual children will also have a servant-spirit too

It is possible, however, that a rare brother may break out of his leader's mould and seek God for himself and become spiritual, in spite of his leader's carnality. But such a case is rare. Generally speaking, most believers are like sheep who blindly follow their leader, wherever he goes. Like a preacher, like people! And when both sheep and leader are blind, they both fall into the ditch.

 

What's Next?

In every church - in the best and in the worst - those sitting in the outer court will be of the same type - half- hearted, worldly, seeking their own, lovers of money and lovers of ease and pleasure. But a good church will have a strong inner core of leaders who are godly. This core determines which way the church is going to go. The central core will usually begin with two men who have become one with each other. God will be with them and the core will begin to grow in size and unity.

Source: Jonah Ravinder- UEC Ministries; & Zac Poonen

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Scripture

[ecko_quote source="1 Timothy 5:22"]Do not appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily.[/ecko_quote]

Devotion

A few years ago, I attended one of the fellowship meetings where the leaders were discussing about adding more people to the leadership team. As the leaders started discussing this matter with the congregation, one of the leaders asked the congregation for their opinions. Taking this opportunity some have spoken and agreed to include new people into the leadership team. Since I was unsure about what they wanted to achieve through this move and wisdom beyond this proposal, I asked the leadership about what necessity they got to take up new people into the leadership team since everything was working well with the existing leadership. They did not give me an answer but defended their decision and ridiculed me for asking such a question. However, the fellowship leaders took a decision to include new members into the leadership team.

After a couple of months, the fellowship leaders started questioning each other and started political gimmicks instead of spiritual discernment to solve the problems.  The new members of the leadership team proposed that the current fellowship leaders should step down and that each leader should take turns to lead the fellowship for a couple of months on a rotation basis. However, everyone from the current leadership did not accept rotation policy and objected it strongly. The power struggle started within the leadership team causing it to split, and eventually lead to form another fellowship. This resulted in a bitter rivalry between the members of the leadership team and further the congregation also joined their hands to support their choice of leaders. Believe it or not, the congregation became a scapegoat to the wishes and ambitions of the aspirant leaders. It affected the entire community, the seeds of bitterness sowed by the leadership caused rivalry amongst the congregation. This community now hardly comes together even for any blessed programmes. I strongly believe in my heart based on the scriptures that these leaders will surely pay for their actions. God will surely ask them accounts for what they have done with the responsibilities and talents that he gave unto them (Matthew 25:25).  The congregation completely lost confidence in the leadership and living with discouragement.This community peoples' hearts are so hardened that now, they hardly come together even for funerals.

According to the Scripture, this way of living is not the pattern that God wishes. However, from the first human beings, Adam and Eve, until the last word in Revelation, people have been letting each other down throughout history. Relationships have been damaged. Leaders have failed. Before I go any further, one thing must be clear: just because the one who hurts you is a leader does not mean that leader is absolved of consequences. Some sins (abuse of all forms, moral failure, murder, and so on) require immediate dismissal from the position of authority. David sinned by taking advantage of Bathsheba and murdering her husband (2 Sam. 11). While he was repentant, his child still died as a consequence of his failure (2 Sam. 12:18-19). Sin has consequences, even for leaders.

How should we respond in our hearts towards such failings? Do you retreat, like me? Do you face it head on, refusing to be victimised again? Do you leave the church, fed up with hypocrisy? Do you cut off with the one who has hurt you? Failure of leadership is a grievous offence against God’s people. It stings, sometimes for years. It plants seeds of distrust that often grow into choking weeds that are difficult to remove. It muddies our judgment of all levels of leadership. It dulls our senses to true leadership because pain and betrayal have clouded our eyes.

With every failed leader in Scripture God was doing something powerful in the failure—he was showing his people that he alone is God. The same is true for us today. Like the Israelites before us, we are prone to worship what is in front of us (leaders) rather than the God whom our eyes cannot see. Moreover, when leaders fall or sin against us, our reaction toward their demise reveals just how much stock we put in their ability to save us.

Any discussion of leadership would be woefully incomplete if it failed to mention that we have a hope of the perfect one—Jesus. But looking to Christ, as the head of all things, including the church, is no mere platitude for weary hearts. It is the honest truth we can take to the bank when a failed leader has sucked dry the bank account of our hearts. No one faced more disappointment from leaders than Jesus (Luke 22:66-23:25). He was scorned and crucified by the political and religious leaders of his day. All for us. When all the leaders around us fail (parents, husbands, teachers, pastors, bosses, politicians, and so on) we have a leader who stands for us to the end. He died to secure us, his children, and he lives to bring us home safely.

What's Next?

In all our disappointment with those who lead us, we do not grieve their sin as people who have no hope. They are not ultimate; Christ is. They are not our saviour; Christ is. They will not fulfil us; Christ will. Leaders come and go. Christ remains the same, faithful and true to his sheep. We grieve failed leadership (and deal with it biblically). However, we find shelter from the storm of their failings in Jesus Christ, our perfect leader.

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