Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Leadership 2

Philemon 15 (ESV)

[15] For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, [16] no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

 

Onesimus was a runaway slave. Philemon was his master, but also a personal friend of the Apostle Paul. Possibly Paul had led him to faith in Christ. We know that he was indebted to Paul in some way. Onesimus, having run away from Philemon, evidently connected with Paul somehow in Rome where Paul was under house arrest. Under Paul's influence Onesimus came to faith in Christ. Now comes the difficult issue of sending a runaway home to his master. What should Paul say? Should Onesimus be punished? How should he be treated by his master? These are the questions Paul addresses in this short letter to Philemon, but they are not the questions on my mind as I write this. I am fascinated by the related question of leadership.

 

What does a Christian leader look like? As Paul addresses this church, community and family leader, Philemon, what can we learn about biblical leadership? One of the key truths that undergird the answers to all these questions is the statement in Philemon 16 that Philemon is no longer to consider Onesimus a slave, but a beloved brother. Biblical leadership does not lord it over those under their authority.

 

Peter, in 1 Peter 5:3, instructs elders that as they shepherd the flock they are not to be domineering, but to lead by example. It is much easier to demand and command than to lead by example. In a Dilbert cartoon an employee complains about being forced to do something against their will. The boss responds, "That's why it's called leadership. It wouldn't be leadership if you wanted to do it." That may be the world's perspective of leadership but it is not God's. "Do as I say, not as I do" is not in God's vocabulary. Leadership begins by recognizing that those we are leading stand on level ground with us before God. We must never fall for the lie that we are leaders because we are better, nor that we deserve some level of respect just because of our positon. In God's economy leadership is always about serving not being served. "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

 

The flip side of that coin is followership. Everyone is a leader in the sense that we each have influence on others. To be a good leader we must first be a good follower. 1 Peter 5 addresses the leadership of elders, but 1 Peter 2 addresses followers. Peter, in that passage, hones in on two attitudes in particular. To be a good follower we must first treat our leaders with respect even when they lead in a harsh and disrespectful manner. Secondly, to do that we must trust God. Whether the leader we are talking about is an emperor, governor, or any other human institution Peter instructs us to, "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." (1 Peter 2:17" This can only be done when we believe that we are under God's watchful protecting eye, and that there is a higher purpose in our lives than our immediate comfort. To be a good follower takes respect and faith.

 

Father, today may I be both a good follower and a good leader. Mold me into the image of Christ.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Leadership

2 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)

 [2:1] You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, [2] and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

 

I wrote earlier that we are all leaders. Timothy is instructed in this passage to take what he has learned from Paul and pass it on to others who will pass it on to others. The Great Commission instructs all believers to be in the process of making disciples who will make disciples. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus wrapped up the Great Commission with these words, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." The command to make disciples and to teach those disciples to make disciples is, therefore, a standing task of all believers. In other words, we are all leaders.

 

Leadership is not about leadership. Leadership is about those we lead and he whom we serve. Leadership is not about finding satisfaction in titles, positions, accolades and acknowledgement, but in the satisfaction of knowing that you have left behind those who will follow God when you are gone. Paul's assurance to Timothy is to remember that he is secure in Christ. Paul never says, "You will be safe and significant if you remember my lesson plans." What he does say is that true believers will experience opposition and oppression but that God is faithful and can be trusted. Paul's leadership always pointed people beyond himself to the God who never fails, never abandons us even when people do, and will always be faithful even when we are not. Leadership is ultimately about pointing people to our true Head and saying, "Trust him. Follow him closely wherever he takes you. Teach others to do the same."

 

Father, forgive me for the times I have lived, acted and thought as though leadership was about me. May my life and my words always point people beyond myself to you. Let them clearly see Jesus in me.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

work

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 (ESV)

[24] There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, [25] for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

 

Has it ever occurred to you that work is a gift from God? Work looks different for every person. In our world some are laborers, some spend their days behind a desk and some behind the wheel of a car or truck. Some drive heavy machinery and some carry a smart phone and a tablet. Some sweat part of the year and freeze part of the year while others enjoy the climate control of air conditioning and central heat. Work looks different for every person. Whatever your work, the bigger question is: Do you see it as a gift from God or a curse to be endured? Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 2, reminds us that we should find enjoyment in our toil because it is from the hand of God.

 

Having been created in the image of God we were designed to work. Living in a fallen world our work is often painful and less than fun. Yet imagine a world without work, without "projects," goals and accomplishments. Imagine a world where we simply sat in comfort and never had to lift a finger to do anything. I am reminded of an old Andy Griffith episode where Emmett decides to retire and move to a small island where he can live on the beach and sleep all day. It is not long before he is bored, apathetic and driven almost crazy. He returns to Mayberry and happily takes back his old job. I wonder if that episode would have even been written today, but it contains a fundamental truth. People were created to work.

 

That truth has major implications. How can we help those who cannot find work? How can we help the elderly and the infirm find meaningful activity? What do I need to change if I am finding my work to be simply drudgery and pain? How can I begin to view my work as a gift from God? How can I do my work in a manner that reflects Christ, honors God and has meaning even if it is not something "significant" or long lasting?

 

Father, I confess that I have often neglected to view work as a gift from you. Change my heart Lord. Help me to see the value of whatever work you call me to do.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Isaiah 50

Isaiah 50:4-7 (ESV) The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him w...