Good morning my friends. As the crisis in Haiti continues we are seeing great examples of good and bad leadership. Our own government here in Canada is getting top marks for its quick response and the large contribution of $85 million from 32 million people. Everyone says our Prime Minister has done well in his response to this disaster. We also look at a number of Church leaders who resisted the temptation of going to Haiti and instead highlighted those Christian agencies and churches already working there. We can look at Pastor Shaun King at the Courageous church in Atlanta, who is raising tens of thousands of dollars for very specific needs such as emergency laptops for communication and 4 neurosurgeons so people will stop dying of head injuries. There is some incredible leadership taking place and that is what we need in the rescue mission Jesus has given to us, incredible, fearless and bold leadership.
One of Paul's concerns for the Church was leadership, as we have seen in these last few days. We have been seeing this concern through his first letter to Timothy. We also know this was a concern because it is what Paul did; he would go to a town, preach the good news, and start planting a church. Before he would leave he would train some leaders to give direction to the church in that city. We have an example in this letter of what he longed to see in these leaders:
If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:6-8)
Paul's first concern was with what was being taught and how the people were being trained. Training is a big part of Christian leadership and Paul expected that the people would be trained in godliness. Paul was telling Timothy to remember his own training and to avoid myths and old wives' tales. In this age of quick information, of the Wikipedia and other such monumental shifts in the idea of information, we are in danger of Christians being raised on false teachings instead of solid doctrine. People look to be spoon fed instead of searching God's Word for themselves. They want snippets of wisdom in 140 characters instead of digesting the council of the whole Word of God. It is important for leaders to not fall into the temptation of the quick fixes, to take the time to train their people well, to go deep and feed on the good stuff.
Paul tells Timothy not to think that his training was over with. A leader's training is never done and they must be a life long student of the Word. That must be how we train our people as well. People get to a certain age when they realize youth will not carry them to the grave. They begin to realize they need to take care of their bodies so they start exercising and trying to eat well to avoid health issues and to feel good. It is a shame that many people do not have this same attitude toward their spiritual condition as well. Why is it that the older people get the lazier they get with their spiritual discipline? The older we get the more we aught to know that we know very little and we should be seeking godliness even more, considering we have less time. Leaders, train your people in godliness which encompasses everything that we say and everything that we do.
Paul's concern was that Timothy would look after himself spiritually. Leaders cannot lead, shepherds cannot guide if they are weak from starvation. Spiritual leaders can get so caught up in the leading, in the busyness of shepherding that they neglect the essentials for themselves:
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (vs. 15-16)
People should never criticize their pastors and elders for the amount of time they give over to personal Bible study and prayer. They need to encourage their spiritual leaders to take great gobs of time for this because the people will profit from it. Pastors need to be in the Word for more than sermon preparation and Bible Study; they need to pursue it for their own needs. Without feeding on the Word and spending time in fellowship with the Spirit, spiritual leaders will become ordinary councilors, social workers, human rights advocates and public speakers. The Church needs better leadership than that; the believers deserve more than the ordinary and common. There is some incredible leadership taking place and that is what we need in the rescue mission Jesus has given to us, incredible, fearless and bold spiritual leadership. Let us pray for our leaders, that they too will live up to their calling.