This message was presented on May 4, 2014 as part of the series on 1 Timothy.
People often think of spiritual leaders as those who are gifted and have a great deal going for them. Let me give you an example of someone who didn’t. In fact, he had many things going against him! David was left out in the darkness by his parents. He was all alone protecting sheep from bears, lions and other predators. His brothers likely said, “Deal with the predators. Keep those sheep alive!” Shepherds often learned through the school of hard knocks.
- There were many other things going against David. He was left out of the Facebook. His brothers went to war, while he had soft duty away from the battle (1 Sam. 17:14-15).
- He could not depend on experience. He was about to face his biggest battle, but he had no uniform or tactical experience (1 Sam. 17:26).
- He had no emotional support, especially from his family (1 Sam. 17:28-29a).
- He had to deal with criticism and comparisons (1 Sam. 17:31-33).
- He learned he could not depend on man’s view (1 Sam. 17:37-39). Pretty tough leadership training!
What kind of leaders are we growing in church? Too often, the Church has grown men who are dependent on their natural abilities, instead of on the supernatural abilities of Jesus. People are often short-sighted and therefore limited to what they can see, rather than grasping God’s vision. We have people who want things their way, because they want Burger King rather than worship the King of Kings. The Church is God’s spiritual army and the leadership must steel its thinking so that this army can be prepared. (Some people don’t want me to talk like that, because they say that I am too rigid).
In America, what happens when children keep complaining? Parents give in to them and have an attitude to “let them do what they want.” The result? They do not become leaders for Jesus. How do you prepare leadership? This passage is about Timothy, a pastor, but there are timeless principles that apply to you.
1) Train them to know who they are in Jesus 4:11-12
We saw several things last week while looking at the first part of our passage. First, be who you are in Jesus. If you looked at the questions on the Message Based Discussion Questions, you saw that it is very important to know who you are. God said, “I am who I am.” Why is that important? Because He knows who He is and He knows what to do. When you know who you are in Jesus, you’ll know what to do.
Why do people look down on you? There are many reasons, but usually this happens because they feel inadequate and don’t know how to be spiritual parents, so they fight and quarrel. Timothy was under great pressure, but Paul was not going to let him off the hook. He still wanted Timothy to keep growing.
Let God grow you spiritually by pursuing Him “Become an example…” He was doing well, but the criticism, challenges and problems wore him down. Paul exhorted him, “Timothy, you become the example people will look up to. Don’t worry about them. You keep pressing forward in speech, conduct, love, spirit, faith and purity!”
Franklin Roosevelt had to work hard to persuade Harry Truman to be his running mate in the 1944 presidential election. Truman wanted to go to the Senate, but incumbent vice-president Henry Wallace was unpopular with many Democratic leaders. So FDR approached Truman, who accepted the job with extreme reluctance. On April 12, 1945 he was summoned to the White House. There he was shown into Eleanor Roosevelt’s sitting room, where she told him that President Roosevelt was dead. After a moment of stunned silence Truman asked her, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
She shook her head. “Is there anything we can do for you?” she said. “For you’re the one in trouble now.” Today in the Word, April 27, 1992. Christians lead for Jesus.
How do you prepare leadership?
2) Train them to know God’s Word by God’s Spirit 4:13-14
There are three things Paul directed Timothy to do until Paul was able to visit.
Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. (1 Tim. 4:13 NKJ)
I appreciate my pastor in Portland, Oregon. His name was John Blakely and he spent 10-15 minutes every service reading Scripture. He wanted to make sure people knew the importance of reading Scripture. People did not tune the reading out. They sat with rapt attention. Reading Scripture was Jesus’ first act of public ministry. He quoted from Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:13-17. Few people in Paul’s day would have been readers, but how many are readers today? Are we not more watchers of television, etc., than readers? Do you read Scripture? The more you read, the better prepared you’ll be to lead.
The second thing Paul directed was for Timothy to exhort. The word means to “call alongside,” “encourage,” “exhort in application” (parakaleo). We get comfortable in our comfort zones – stiff from stiff necks and hardened with hard hearts, and we need the exhortation. Paul was certainly one who exhorted Timothy in his second letter,
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Tim. 4:1-4 NKJ)
Bruce Larson, in his book Wind and Fire, points out some interesting facts about sandhill cranes:
“These large birds, who fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence. And then, all the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking.
That’s a good model for the church. We need leaders who can handle turbulence and who are aware that leadership ought to be shared. But most of all, we need a church where we are all honking encouragement.”
The third thing Paul directed to Timothy was teaching. It simply means “communicate truth” (doctrine). Some people act like doctrine is boring? How can God’s Word or instruction of it ever be boring? Some will say it’s so over the head? Do people not want to stretch and learn the things of God? Paul wanted Timothy prepared to lead. So what did Paul then say?
14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. (1 Tim. 4:14 NKJ)
Literally, he said, “Stop neglecting…” It seems negative, but Timothy was under so much pressure, he was being neutralized. He wasn’t using God’s empowerment, because he faced many pressures. Let’s note some of them. First, Paul told him to not let others teach false doctrine,
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia– remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, (1 Tim. 1:3 NKJ)
Paul even dropped a couple names of the trouble-makers,
18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Tim. 1:18-20 NKJ)
Hymenaeus and Alexander were given back to Satan for discipline outside of the Church. And there were also women who were running roughshod over Timothy,
11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. (1 Tim. 2:11-12 NKJ)
Timothy loved women, because it was his mother and grandmother who brought him to Jesus and raised him up in the Lord. And when a man is a gentleman and a woman is a, well, not a lady, he might not handle the emotional manipulations and blaming she can stir up. So Paul told Timothy,
23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities. (1 Tim. 5:23 NKJ)
Their incessant complaints are described in Proverbs like the slow drip of a faucet. When they come from the ones you love, they can wear you down. Why do parents give into the incessant demands of children and not raise them to holiness? They get worn down.
And Paul told Timothy not to be distracted with all the hubbub of false knowledge,
O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge–(1 Tim. 6:20 NKJ)
Then Paul had the gall to exhort Timothy to not let up! Paul said, “Stop neglecting the gift (of teaching), which comes by the Holy Spirit. Do you understand the empowerment? Too many leave the power of the Holy Spirit aside or at home and depend on natural talents, which they don’t think they have. Men lead at work, sports, hobbies, but they are not so good at home or at church. Men need to read, exhort and teach those whom they can influence, those who will follow. What do you know about the Holy Spirit? Paul said we need to teach doctrine. Let me give you five things about the Holy Spirit. You can’t lead without the Holy Spirit. The more you know about the Holy Spirit, the more you’ll rely upon Him. I’ve given you a five letter acrostic – BRIGS. Guys, you can remember it by Briggs and Stratton engines, except I have only one “g”.
The “B” stands for Baptism of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit baptizes you or identifies you, into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The “R” stands for Regeneration of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit regenerates your dead spirit and makes you alive in Jesus. You go from spiritual death to spiritual life (Titus 3:5). The “I” stands for Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. You are a Christian, because of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). Although, you know you have the indwelling Spirit, only when you are filled with the Spirit and producing the “fruit of the Spirit,” which is God’s love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, mercy faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The “G” stands for the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Every believer in Jesus Christ receives at least one gift of the Spirit for blessing and serving in the church (1 Cor. 12:11). The “S” stands for the Sealing of the Holy Spirit. Every person who genuinely accepts what Jesus has done on the cross is sealed until death and will enter the gates of heaven. (Eph. 4:30).
Now there are several more things, which I can address later or you can look at the Message Based Discussion Questions. Also Rick Storm has a great sheet on the ministries of the Holy Spirit, so you could ask him. A related ministry is “Filling of the Spirit” which comes by a moment by moment choice or dependence upon the Spirit’s empowerment. If you are not consciously thinking of dependency on the Spirit, you likely are not. You may have knowledge or degrees, but miss the Spirit’s power. “Timothy, do not let others look down on you, so don’t look down on yourself.” Paul addressed this right away when he wrote his second letter,
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:6-7 NKJ)
How does he develop the gift?
3) Train them to absorb God’s Word for transformation 4:15
Meditate – This is a command to “take pains” (NASB) of slowly reading and going over and over the passage. Be diligent with these things, keep practicing them, like doing scales on a piano.
“Church is important to me.” Are you connected? The chicken was involved in the farm, the pig was committed on the farm. The chicken gave a part, the pig gave all.
4) Train them by training yourself 4:16
Jesus is our King of Kings!
Live like He is King rather than just a pawn!
- You must depend on God’s Spirit, and then you will lead
- When you are dependent on the Holy Spirit, you will consume His Word and be transformed.
David depended on the Lord 1 Sam. 17:41-47 He was not a natural leader. 17:42. He was a supernatural leader.
Myron Rush identifies tough issues facing every Christian leader in The New Leader. We are wise to ponder them slowly.
- – You must be willing to stand alone.
- – You must be willing to go against public opinion in order to promote what you believe.
- – You must be willing to risk failure.
- – You must become master of your emotions.
- – You must strive to remain above reproach.
- – You must be willing to make decisions others don’t want to make.
- – You must be willing to say no at times, even when you’d like to say yes.
- – You must sometimes be willing to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the group.
- – You must never be content with the average; you must always strive for the best.
- – People must be more important to you than possessions.
- – You will have to work harder to keep your life in balance than people do who are not leaders.
Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, pp. 177-178.