Suffer Hardship as a Good Soldier (1)

and none of it was for the good. When Paul wrote 1 Timothy the Church was booming. Things looked very bright. Timothy, Paul’s son in the faith must have been thrilled to see leaders emerging and taking their place alongside him in the ministry. Things were going so well that Paul wrote to inform Timothy regarding the kind of attributes and qualities potential elders and deacons should have before being placed into office. The Church was healthy and growing and there was a real excitement in the air.

But that was 1 Timothy… By the time 2 Timothy was written, things were radically different. Public opinion had turned on the Christians and the Roman Empire was now flexing its strong muscles. Christians were no longer left alone. Instead they were hounded, captured, imprisoned, enslaved and even killed. Many of those who had professed faith in Christ were now taking the easy way out, defecting from the faith in order to save their skins. Trusted members of Timothy’s leadership team were now “missing in action,” nowhere to be found. As a result of this, the precious Church he was pastoring was now in sharp decline.

2 Timothy is a very different kind of letter than 1 Timothy. Paul writes as a man knowing he was about to die for his gospel convictions. He writes, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:6,7)

Paul writes strong words for tough times. He writes for the good of Timothy’s soul.

The message, in so many words was this:

“Stay at your post Timothy. While many have left you, even the very leaders you raised up, and while your heart is devastated by this, know that you have a sacred trust from the Lord. Instead of giving up, throwing in the towel as a heart broken man, be a man, suck it up my son. Stay rooted and grounded in the gospel of grace. Know that God is with you. Rather than wollowing in your sadness, be a leader. I want you to get up, shake yourself off, and realize that Christ has commissioned you to do something. Your commander has spoken to you with clear orders. Until He tells you otherwise, you know exactly what you are to do. You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim 2:1) Then find faithful men… and Timothy, there will be some… go look for them, find them and once you have done so, pour your life into them. Tell them what you know. Leave nothing unsaid. Even if it means starting again from scratch, pour your life into these men. Teach them the word. Teach them what I have taught you. What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim 2:2) Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Stay at your post my son. He has given you His word. Use it skillfully my son. All Scripture is God breathed – use it to encourage, to build up, to stir up and if necessary, rebuke. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by anyone. You are God’s man and you have a job to do. Christ’s solemn charge is for you to preach the Word and do so when the people like it and throng to you, and preach the Word when they do not like it at all, even when they will not endure it, and they leave you, when the only sound you hear is the remembrance of the empty words they said to you. I know… I know.. they promised you that they would always be with you.. and now, they are gone… but Timothy… this is all a part of being a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He never promised you a life of popularity or ease. What I am saying to you applies equally to me. I am writing this from a prison cell awaiting my own death. . All have left me too. Only Luke is with me (2 Tim 4:11)… But Timothy, keep your eyes on the prize. Endure hardship as a good soldier… Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. Stay at your post my son. Until the Lord says otherwise, you have a job to do. Do it!”

Leadership and the Family

Truth & Life Conf. 2011 – Session 3 – “Leading as a Servant” – Voddie Baucham

Truth & Life Conf. 2011 – Session 4 – “Leading as a Husband & Father” – Voddie Baucham

Leadership Lessons from the Tortoise and the Hare

Darren Hardy writes:

… you know I am a fan of the story of the tortoise and the hare and the lesson it teaches about how hardworking, consistent and steady-paced people (or reptiles) will eventually overtake the fast, talented, experienced but complacent people (or mammals). Someone recently shared with me an adaptation of the story that makes a poignant leadership point. It goes like this…

After getting his hare butt kicked by the tortoise so many times, the hare finally wised up and realized it was because he was being overconfident, unfocused and inconsistent (maybe he read The Compound Effect; hey it’s possible!).

Newly enlightened he decided to make some changes and challenged the tortoise to a rematch. The tortoise accepted his challenge.

This time, the hare ran with all his might and didn’t stop, relentlessly and persistently until he crossed the finish line. This time the hare won!

The moral of the story? If you think focus and consistency is amazing when applied to the slow and steady, imagine what’s possible if applied to the fast and talented.

But the story doesn’t end here…

This time, it was the tortoise that did the soul searching and he realized that if the hare didn’t stop, there is no way he could beat him…. unless! He thought.

He decided on a different course and he challenged the hare to another rematch. The newly emboldened hare, of course, agreed.

With the lessons learnt from his previous failure and his new disciplines in mind, the hare kept on running once the race started and didn’t stop until the route led him to the bank of a river. He was taken by surprise and he did not know what to do, since he could not swim. There were no bridges in sight and no one to ask for directions. As he racked his brain, thinking of ways to cross the river, the tortoise strolled slowly along, dived into the river, swam across it and ultimately, finished the race before the hare.

The moral of the story? Know your strengths and take on your competitors in areas of your core competency.

But that’s not the rest of the story…
With the hare and the tortoise spending so much time together racing, they became rather good friends. They also developed a mutual respect for one another as they realized that they are both different and they have different strengths. They decided to race again, but this time, as a team.

As the race started, the hare carried the tortoise and they sped to the riverbank. There, they switched positions and the tortoise ferried the hare across the river. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they crossed the finishing line together.

They completed the race in a record time that both of them could never achieve if they were to do it alone. They also felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they’d felt earlier.

The moral of the story? It’s good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies but unless you’re able to work in a TEAM and harness each other’s core competencies, you’ll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you’ll do poorly where someone else does well.

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership. And being supportive team members is necessary for a team to advance.

There are more lessons on teamwork to be learned from this story…

Note that the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures. The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could, but was not doing as well as he wished.

Imagine how long it will take the hare to learn how to swim! Or for the tortoise to learn to run fast. In this day and age when the environment changes at lightning speed, we have to learn to work with people who have strengths in areas that we do not.

It is the same in business, if we can collaborate with people who are experts in areas that we are not familiar with, we will realize that our market and opportunities suddenly becomes bigger.

Regarding Leadership, Sin, Repentance and Restoration

Dr. R. C. Sproul, Jr was asked this question:

“If a man in leadership falls into sin, about it admits it, repents and turns from it, should he ever lead again in the same role?”

He answered it on his blog as follows:

All men, save Jesus, are sinners. All men, save Jesus, are called to repent and turn from their sins. And only men are called to lead in the church. As such, if we are going to have leaders, that is, elders, and deacons in the church, we had better leave room for repentant elders and deacons. The only thing worse and the only other thing possible is unrepentant elders and deacons.

That said, I suspect the question, while vague, is aiming at something a bit more particular. What do we do with a pastor who has committed adultery? What do we do with a deacon who has embezzled the church’s funds? If they repent, it would seem we are called to forgive. And doesn’t forgiveness mean we act as though it never happened?

Yes, of course we are to forgive the repentant. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are to act as though it never happened. When we forgive we do not forget as if we had amnesia, or as if there is nothing to be concerned about. Instead we forget in the sense that we no longer hold the sin against the sinner. We do not hold a grudge against them. We love the repentant. We embrace the repentant, and we seek to help not just the repentant, but those whom they have wronged. We do not require the embezzler to wear a scarlet E for the rest of his life. But we do not either leave him alone to count the offering. We would be poor stewards of his soul and the kingdom’s funds were we to leave him to his temptation.

Consider how God’s law deals with adultery and divorce. Were I unfaithful to my wife, and were I to repent for such a sin, she would have an obligation to forgive me. She would not, however, have an obligation to stay married to me. Adultery is biblical grounds for a divorce precisely because it is such a betrayal of a trust that future trust is hard to come by. The victim is to forgive. The adulterer is forgiven, But the divorce can still happen, and is still laid at the feet of the adulterer. He is the one who broke the covenant. The victim is free to acknowledge that reality by seeking the legal divorce.

One could argue, and indeed some have, that a pastor who is guilty of infidelity is to be forgiven, but as with marriage itself, has so betrayed the trust inherent in his office that it would preclude his future service as a minister of the gospel. Others, perhaps pointing to Peter’s betrayal of Jesus, and Jesus’ admonition after his repentance that he strengthen the brethren, that a pastor in such a circumstance is oddly even more empowered to serve as a minister of the gospel, having experienced its power so immediately. The danger is, in both positions, papering over our emotional response with pious words. That is, too often the pastor is put out not because it is the right thing, but because of anger, because we haven’t honestly forgiven. Even more common we are fearful of how the church would fare without our pastor, and so keep him on, even cover up for him, and excuse our fear by baptizing it in “forgiveness” and “grace.” Because we are all sinners our temptation is always to do what we want to do. Because we profess Christ, we then cover our desires with rationalizations.

God is good. God can and does not only forgive us, but can and does cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). That said, a man who has proven his willingness to betray his family is more likely than one who has remained faithful to walk into adultery again. A man who has betrayed his office sexually, is likewise more likely to do so again. My counsel would be to remove the man from office. But it is just that, counsel. I cannot claim that the Bible commands it, nor that it forbids leaving such a man in office should he repent.

An Evangelical Leader

Here’s an excerpt from Iain Murray’s recent biography of John MacArthur. In his Introduction Murray seeks to show what makes a man a leader among evangelicals. He offers a five-point answer:

In brief, an evangelical is a person who believes the ‘three rs’: ruin by the Fall, redemption through Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit. It follows that an ‘evangelical leader’ is a person who stands out in the advancement and defence of those truths. The title does not necessarily imply success judged by numbers and immediate results. on that basis neither Paul nor Tyndale might qualify.

1. An evangelical leader is one who leads and guides the lives of others by the Scripture as the Word of God. he seeks to repudiate every other form of influence and pressure. His great concern is to teach Scripture accurately, and to see lives submitted to its authority.

2. An evangelical leader inspires the affection of followers because they learn Christ through him, and see something of Christ in him. They follow him because he follows Christ. And they love him because he loves them in Christ’s name. ‘The apostle Paul summarized the spirit of the true leader when he wrote, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”’ And what is to be imitated the Scriptures do not leave in doubt: ‘Almost every time Scripture holds up Christ as our example to follow, the stress is on his humility.’

3. An evangelical leader is a man prepared to be unpopular. From the days when Ahab said to Elijah, ‘Are you he that troubles Israel?’, faithfulness to Scripture will not bring the approval of the majority. Dr MacArthur says bluntly, ‘You cannot be faithful and popular, so take your pick.’ A quest for popularity is a very short-term thing. For an evangelical, ‘success isn’t measured in hours, or even centuries. Our focus is fixed on eternity.’ Success ‘is not prosperity, power, prominence, popularity, or any of the other worldly notions of success. Real success is doing the will of God regardless of the consequences.’

4. An evangelical leader is one who is awake to the dangers of the times. Not every Christian has the distinction that was once given to the tribe of Issachar, ‘The men of Issachar had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do’ (1 Chron. 12:32). There are periods in church history when the leaders have seriously mistaken the way in which the cause of Christ is to be carried forward. The signs of the times have been misread. A true evangelical leader is raised up to provide God-given direction.

5. An evangelical leader will not direct attention to himself. He personally owes everything to Jesus Christ. As a sinner he sees the need to live in a spirit of repentance all his days. He knows the contrast between what he is in himself and the message that he preaches: ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us’ (2 Cor. 4:7). ‘God chooses whom he chooses in order that he might receive the glory. He chooses weak instruments so that no one will attribute the power to human instruments rather than to God, who wields those instruments.’

HT: TC

How to Connect with People

Everyone communicates, not everyone connects.

I would strongly encourage you to invest around 32 minutes of your time to watch Dr. John Maxwell as he teaches three powerful leadership principles to help you connect with people around you:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3: