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Effective Christian Leadership

Colossians 1:24-29

Apostle Paul provides us a look at principles of effective Christian Leadership.
These are principles are for the pastor and all church leaders.

These are not the same leadership principles you will find in contemporary books.
These are Christian principles.

Paul begins "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you,
and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions,
for the sake of the church
." (1:24).

Paul rejoices in what "was suffered for you."
Paul is referring to the sacrifice of Christ for our sin.
Paul is grateful for Christ's work in their life.

Leadership Costs.

Paul says there is a price to pay to lead.
These statements should not surprise us.
Jesus warned us.
He said, "Remember the words I spoke to you:
'No servant is greater than his master.'
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.
If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also
[John 15:20].

Paul details his sufferings in 1 Corinthians 11:

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods,
once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked,
I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers,
in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen,
in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city,
in danger in the country, in danger at sea;
and in danger from false brothers.

I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep;
I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food;
I have been cold and naked.
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?
Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness

Notice, that Paul identifies several sources of suffering.
He was attacked, beaten and left for dead.
All this because of his proclamation of the gospel.
This may not happen to churchgoers in our country,
but it is happening in other countries.
The world is becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian message.
And as we have seen, people are resorting to violence
to address their grievances more and more.

Paul tells us that he is also threatened by the Gentiles.
In other words, he faces the subtle antagonism of nonbelievers..

We should be able to relate to this.
Every time we take a stand for Christ, we become a target.
If you take a leadership position, you become a bigger target.
This is often much more subtle and subversive.
People will exclude you, ridicule you, criticize you behind your back.

Third, he faces suffering from false brothers.
These are devastating attacks from within the church.

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Caesar is killed by a group of assailants.
A famous line is "et tu, Brutè?"
Caesar was stunned that one he thought was a friend would turn on him.

Anyone who has served in the church for any length of time understands this feeling. Some of the most painful blows come from these "false brothers" –
the ones we thought were our friends.

It would be nice if everyone in the church
applied God's commands to love, kindness and encouragement.
It would be nice, but that’s not the way it is.

Paul identifies one other source of suffering:
"I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

One of the most painful aspects of Christian leadership
is the heartbreak of sharing people's pain.

It's tough to listen to the heartache that goes on in so many lives.
It's devastating to see someone who is acting out of rebellion to the Lord.
It hurts every time I stand at a casket as a family says their final goodbyes.
The closer I am to the family. The more it hurts.

There is a price to be paid to be an effective leader.
There is a price for taking a stand for Christ.

Leaders Must Have A Servant Mentality.

Paul states,
"I have become its (the church's) servant by the commission God gave me..."
Paul viewed himself not as a professional or an executive, but a servant.

Jesus gave us an example of what this means.

In the upper room when the disciples gathered with Jesus for the Passover meal.
Before the meal we see the contrasting styles of leadership.
The disciples were in a power struggle.

The question was who should take the position of a servant
and wash the feet of the disciples.
Peter and John had debated who was most important.

The disciples compared credentials, displayed their degrees,
trumpeted their experience.
They sought to gain their position of importance.

Jesus shows the disciples the nature of godly leadership.
He takes off his garment and humbles himself like a servant
and washes the feet of the disciples.

The disciples were humbled.
This was not the way a leader was to behave.
Jesus told them that He was giving them a model
of the kind of leadership He desired -- servant leadership.

When people in the world talk about leadership you hear words like:
power, influence, and leverage.
These are the so-called people who "make things happen."

Jesus talks of leaders with words like:
compassion, humility, gentleness, generosity, patience, and service.

Paul understands that he is a servant of God.
He says that he is a servant by the commission of God.
He understood that He "worked for God".

God did not serve Paul . . . Paul served God.

Paul also sees himself as a servant of the church.
He is a servant of God's Kingdom.
He is not a professional . . . but a servant.
His job is not to build a kingdom to himself, but to build God's kingdom.

Paul also understood  that he is a servant of the Word.
His job was to proclaim God's truth.

It is so easy to forget this.
We get wrapped up trying to be creative and innovative,
we dabble in politics and pop psychology.

But this is not our calling.
These things cannot save anyone.

There is a tendency to make the Word of God a servant of the teacher,
rather than the teacher, a servant of the Word of God.

It is not our job to "pick and choose"
which part of the Bible we will focus on and believe.
We must present and study the fullness of the truth.

God's Word must dictate what we teach.
Public opinion, contemporary events, personal preference and others
must not determine what we preach.

Scripture is not for us to use to prove our ideas.
We are to proclaim God's ideas!

Effective Christian leaders understand they are not the served, but the servants.

During the American Revolution, a man in civilian clothes
rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier.
Their leader was shouting instructions at them,
but making no other attempt to help them.

Asked why by the rider, the leader said with great dignity, "Sir, I'm a corporal!"

The stranger apologized, dismounted,
and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers.

The job done, he turned to the corporal and said,
 "If you need some more help, son, call me."

With that, the Commander-In-Chief, George Washington,
remounted his horse and rode on.
One man had a tithe....the other was a leader.

Effective Christian Leaders See the Big Picture.

Paul writes,
"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone --
with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ

Paul sees what is important.
He is not seeking to build organizations . . .
he is seeking to develop people.

His goal is to present everyone perfect in Christ.

Effective Christian Leaders are those who look beyond attendance figures.
They look beyond today.
They want to develop people , not just produce events.
They want to see people grow up -- not just show up.

Do you see this in Paul's words?
Paul understands that His first goal is to reach people with the Gospel,
and then develop them in their Christian life.

The world can do as well as the church
(entertain, sing, counsel, draw crowds, build buildings),
but there is only one thing the church can do that the world cannot . . .
we can present to them Jesus who will give them life eternal.

That's our mission.

When we focus on our mission:
We will be less concerned with programs, more concerned with people
We will have more patience with those who are different from us.
We will focus more on ministry and less on programming.
We will be less concerned with our rights and more concerned with our responsibilities

Here is an example of how we should care for people:

“Here is young man with wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes.
He is a very bright young man, but this is how he dressed all through college.
He became a Christian while attending college.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church.
They want to develop a ministry to the students,
but are not sure how to go about it.

One Sunday morning, he decides to attend the worship service.
He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair.

The service has already started and so he walks down the aisle looking for a seat.
The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat.
By now, people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything.

He gets closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats,
he just sits down on the carpet.
Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship —
this had never happened in this church.

By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.
About this time, the minister sees that a deacon
is slowly making his way toward toward the young man.

The deacon is in his eighties.
He has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch.

He is a godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly.
He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy,
everyone is saying to themselves,

"You can't blame him for what he's going to do.
How can you expect a man of his age and of his background
to understand some college kid on the floor

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy.
The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane.
All eyes are focused on him.
You can't even hear anyone breathing.

The people are thinking,
"The minister can't even preach the sermon
until the deacon does what he has to do

And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor.
With great difficulty he lowers himself
and sits down next to to the young man.

Everyone chokes up with emotion.

When the minister gains control of his emotions says,
"What I'm about to preach, you will never remember.
What you have just seen, you will never forget

That deacon was willing to serve.
He cared for others.
He knew his mission.

Effective Christian leaders know the source of their strength.

Paul concludes this section with these words,
"To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."

The word, "struggling," in Greek is the word, “agonizomai,”
from which we get our word, agonize.

This  conveys the idea of an athlete straining to win the race.

When I was young, I would hear pastors preaching:
"It is better to burn out than to rust out."

We should be diligent in our work for the Lord.
But it is important that we remember Paul's final principle:
we must work "with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me."

All the energy that we can muster cannot equal what God can do through us.

Allistar Begg said, "We must remember that the best of men are men at best."

We are effective only when we function in God's strength.
We must spend time with the Lord.
If we don’t we cannot function .
We dry up and burn out.

We must take in before we can give out.

Our strength is not in our ability but in His.
We must abide in God's strength.

Are you running on empty?
When was the last time you were alone with the Lord?
When was the last time you allowed Him to fill you with His wonder and grace?

Have you been so "busy" that you're relying on your own strength to carry you through?
You may feel that you "don't have time".

You must make time.

When we take time to "fill up," we will be more effective and efficient.

We will be working in His strength, not ours.

 -- Adapted from several scources 

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