Christ-like Leadership

1 Timothy 3_1-7 Instagraphic Small

Five-minute podcast. Two-minute podcast.

How does your church pick its leaders? Here’s what I’ve seen:

  • Some churches pick old leaders who don’t have the ability for the work
  • Some churches pick unqualified leaders who don’t have the character for the work
  • Some churches pick young leaders who don’t have the spirituality for the work

In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, God describes the Christ-like leadership he wants to see in the church.

The context is public worship and church order (1 Timothy 2). He then moves on to official church leadership.

LEADERSHIP IS A GOOD ASPIRATION

The work is important

“The saying is trustworthy (1)”.

All the other “faithful sayings” are about salvation through Christ. Paul is warning us that if we g wrong in church leadership and we’ll eventually go wrong in salvation.

The desire is noble

“If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1).

“Overseer” means supervisor, shepherd, pastor, elder. “Noble” means high and lofty.  To “aspire” or “desire” means to stretch out for something.

Christ-like leaders know the enormity of the task, and have the energy for the task.

“So, if I want to be a church leader, I should be a church leader?”

LEADERSHIP HAS HIGH QUALIFICATIONS

“Therefore an oversee must be above reproach (2).

“Above reproach” means a good reputation. Criticism has nothing to stick to. This qualification results from two characteristics: self-control and family control

Self-control

“The husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (2-3).

Self-control sums up verses 2-3. The leader is to be self-controlled in sexual matters, behavior, thinking, studying, addictive substances, conflict, speech, finances, and so on.

Family control

“He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (4-5).

Leading well in the home is an indicator that someone will lead well in the church.

Self-control and family control are evidence of Holy Spirit control.

Are you saying, “This doesn’t sound too hard”?

LEADERSHIP STARTS DEVILISH OPPOSITION

The devil wants to puncture you

“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (6).

A balloon is filled with hot air, rises high in the sky and then bursts resulting in a catastrophic fall. That’s what the devil wants to do and the way he does it is giving us way too high thoughts about ourselves.

The devil wants to trap you

“Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (7).

The devil wants to trap leaders because he knows that if he can bring down the leaders, he can bring down the church and hinder the spread of the Gospel.

The devil targets leaders because he knows leaders are targeting him.

LIVING THE BIBLE

“Jesus, we worship you as the perfect leader. You aspired to leadership and were up to the task. You were perfectly qualified by your perfect self-control and family control. You defeated the most devilish opposition, puncturing and trapping the devil in the process. Help us to be (and find) able, qualified, and spiritual leaders who will be up to the work, suited to the work, and safe for the work.”

1 Timothy 3v1-7 Infographic Small


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How to Create a Plan for Family Worship

In this episode of the Crossway podcast, I’m chatting with Cory about the why and how of family worship. Click here to listen to the whole podcast or you can jump in at any of the points below. If you’re wanting to get started (or re-started) on family worship, I think you’ll find this book very helpful, practical, and do-able.


A Revolutionary Role for Women

1 Timothy 2v11-15 Insta

Five-minute podcast. Two-minute podcast.

We’re living in days of revolution. Many are trying to start a revolution, to change the nation and even the world. So far, the effects appear to have been mainly destructive. They’ve made the world a worse place.

I invite you to join me in another kind of revolution. A revolution that will turn the world upside down – which will actually put it the right way up?

The context of verses 11-15 is right order in the church that will promote salvation. Here he limits public teaching roles to men. In chapter 3, he further limits it to a certain kind of men – gentle shepherds and loving servants.

THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN’S ROLE IS CLEAR

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (11-12).

NB: Men and women are essentially and spiritually equal, but physically and functionally different.

Learn quietly: In a culture that viewed women as intellectually inferior to men and therefore only educated men, these were liberating and dignifying words. Learning for women is in, but certain kinds of teaching are out; specifically the teaching of men by the authoritative proclamation of God’s Word in a public worship service. Men have much to learn from women but there’s one forum where that is not to take place, and that’s public worship in the church.

Submit humbly: “Submission” means to yield to God-given authority, which here is the elders of the church. To submit to God-given authority is to please and honor the Lord by cooperating with the way God has designed and ordered society.

Teaching and ruling may please us, but learning and submitting pleases God.

“Is there any reason to this?”

THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN’S ROLE IS REASONABLE

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (13-14).

The order of creation: “Adam was formed first, then Eve.” In the Bible, being firstborn was not about superiority, but authority and responsibility. When God made Adam first, he wasn’t just setting up our first parents but male-female roles and relationships for all time. God wants the creation order to be reflected in church order.

The order of sin: Eve was deceived first. Look what happened when the creation order was reversed, when Adam gave up his God-given role and Eve took over a role that was not hers.

Male and female roles are based on timeless truth not cultural considerations.

“Is there any encouragement to this?”

THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN’S ROLE IS BLESSED

“Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control” (15).

Continue in godliness: Continue in faith, love, holiness, and self-control is shorthand for following God’s order.

Saved through child-bearing: Childbearing is shorthand for giving, protecting, and sustaining life. If you follow God’s order you will not only be much happier, you will be much more influential as well. Women will exert godly influence from the bottom up by Christ-like influencing of children. Woman can re-create world order by re-creating the creation order.

Revert to God’s order and you’ll revolutionize world order.

LIVING THE BIBLE

Accept your God-appointed role and responsibilities and you will massively influence children, and therefore the church and the world, for good.  To be a godly mother is to be a revolutionary.

1 Timothy 2v11-15 Infographic Insta


You can catch up with previous episodes at the Living the Bible website or subscribe on iTunesSpotify, and Google Podcast. Growing your faith five minutes a day.


How to Pray When You’re Feeling Depressed

Prayer is hard at the best of times, but it’s hardest during anxious or depressed times. During such seasons, most of us find it hard to concentrate, we feel God is far away, and we despair of God hearing or helping us. All of this makes prayer so difficult and discouraging.

How can we make prayer easier and more encouraging to us in such dark and disturbing spells? Here are five words I give to people to help them with the how of prayer when they are anxious or depressed:

  • Short: Better one minute of real, concentrated prayer than fifteen minutes of distracted, wandering prayer.
  • Frequent: Try to pray these short prayers throughout the day to keep you in contact with God. Perhaps set an hourly timer on your phone.
  • Simple: Pray like a hurting child to a loving father. You don’t need complex theological compositions.
  • Scriptural: When you can’t find any words of your own, use the words God has provided in the psalms, in the Lord’s Prayer, or in Paul’s prayers.
  • Together: Ask someone to pray with you when you can’t pray for yourself. Perhaps they can pray over the phone with you and you can piggy-back to the throne of grace on their words.

If these five words help us with the how of prayer, let me give you five phrases to guide you in the what of prayer.

You Are

You are sovereign, Lord. You are good, wise, strong, gracious, and faithful. You are my rock, my shepherd, my peace.

Depression and anxiety turn us in upon ourselves so that we get self-centered and sometimes self-obsessed. We see all our lacks and hurts. Prayer helps us to put God at the center of our lives instead, which not only gives us something better to look at than ourselves but also helps us to see everything else better, including ourselves. That’s why we want to start prayer with worship, reminding ourselves of who God is and what God has done. We praise him using descriptions of his attributes and biblical images of his character. This changes what we see and how we see, giving us a God-centered view of our world and ourselves. That in itself is an encouraging and calming perspective.

I Am

I am the opposite of who you are, Lord. I am sad, anxious, and weak. I feel hopeless, helpless, and lonely. At times I don’t want to live. I know this is wrong, and I confess this to you. I am not who I want to be. I am not where I want to be.

Having begun with a God-centered worldview, we can then admit who and what we are and are not. Confession is simply telling God honestly who we are and where we’re at. God already knows, of course, without our telling him, but he still asks us to pour out our hearts to him. It honors God as the sympathizer with weakness and the forgiver of sins. It is therapeutic for us to hear ourselves describe ourselves in the presence of the God who understands our frailties and who forgives our transgressions. Depression and anxiety bring a ton of guilt upon us (both false and real guilt), an oppressive load that crushes our spirits and closes our lips. Being honest and transparent about it before God begins to shift that load off our shoulders and on to Christ’s.

I Trust

Faithful God, although I don’t feel much faith or confidence in you, I will not be guided by my feelings. I trust you, Lord. I trust your word, your character, your faithfulness. I believe all that the Bible says about you, and I will recall your past faithfulness. I trust you, therefore, that you have not changed, though I have; that you are still here, though I don’t sense you; that you are my God, though I don’t feel like I’m your child. I trust your plan for me, and I rest in you as you carry me through these dark and disturbing days.

As songs like Psalm 42, 43, 37, and 73 demonstrate, expressions of trust build trust. The more we articulate our confidence in God, the stronger that confidence grows. And when we can’t say it with 100% certainty, we can always say, “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Perhaps you can recall past times of God’s faithfulness to make your faith fuller. God is honored and pleased with faith, especially when we are walking in darkness and have no light (Isa. 50:10). Some of my spiritual heroes are Christians who have battled serious mental illness and have held on to God and his word, even with the fingernail of their little finger. That’s far more difficult than trusting God when everything is going well for us, both internally and externally. It’s also more God-glorifying.

I Need

All-sufficient Provider, I am desperately needy. I need you above all. But I also need peace, joy, hope, patience, sanity, and so much more. I beg you to help me even just to get through this day. Will you help my family and friends as they struggle to understand me? Teach them how to love me. But help me also to love them, especially when I feel so flat. Help me to do my daily duties even when I find no joy in them. I pray for the needs of other depressed and anxious people, too.

God can supply all our needs in the blink of an eye without our asking (Matt. 6:8). However, he asks us to ask and to look to him for everything we need. We can bring to him our physical needs, emotional needs, mental needs, spiritual needs, social needs, and vocational needs. Nothing is too big, and nothing is too small.

I Thank

Giver of every good and perfect gift, I thank you for all you have done, are doing, and will do. I thank you for all you have given, are giving, and will give. I thank you that I am not even worse than I am. I thank you for moments of joy and peace. I thank you for pastors, for brothers and sisters in Christ, for counselors, for doctors, for psychologists, for psychiatrists, and for medications.

Depression and anxiety focus our attention on what we lack, so it’s important to take time to remember all God has given to us and has done for us, both in redemptive history and in our own personal history. Ask him to help you see what you often are blind to or just take for granted. Even just walk around your kitchen or yard and thank God for all you see and have there. Thanksgiving is life-giving.

Prayer is rarely easy. But I hope these five words and five phrases make it easier in times of depression and anxiety. Let me close with a prayer for you:

Lord, you are full of joy and peace. Many of my readers are not. They are sad and panicky. Help them to see who you are and to worship and praise you. Lead them to confess their sins and their faith. As you know their needs and you can easily supply them, give them supplications that honor your willingness and ability to give. Give them what they lack and give them thanksgiving as they see you more clearly in their lives. Above all, remind your people of Jesus Christ who suffered more and deeper for them, and fill them with gratitude for his grace in coming, your love in sending him, and the Holy Spirit’s fellowship that applies all this to the soul. AMEN.

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