Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Brian Edwards on Biblical Christian Leadership

At yesterday's West Country Reformed Ministers' Fraternal, Brian Edwards spoke on Biblical Christian Leadership, taking as his starting point Paul's words in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Here are some notes. They don't give a full flavour of Brian's engaging and challenging talk, just a little taste. But that's better than nothing.

The apostle Paul is a role model for leaders. His New Testament letters were addressed to real people in  real life situations, which makes them all the more relevant to us.

1. Paul's spiritual depth

Pastors are first and foremost Christians who are called to live for glory of Jesus,  Philippians 3:10-11. Paul's prayers provide a model for our private and public prayers, Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21. A passion for Christ is essential for leadership. We must enjoy and love Christ above all, more than theological study, preaching etc. We need to be  'venturesome leaders', who trust in promises of God.

2. Moral integrity

Paul handled monetary gifts in such a way that no accusation of personal enrichment could be made against him, 2 Corinthians 8-9. Elders must have a good reputation with outsiders, 1 Timothy 3:7. The world is watching us, examining our behaviour. There must not be even a hint of sexual impropriety in the church, Ephesians 5:3. Husbands and wives should guard one another in this respect. Also we must show integrity with regard to matters like pirated software, CD/DVDs, copyright for songs etc.

3. Personal courage

We need to show courage in the face of suffering, 2 Corinthians 11. But also we need to be courageous in facing issues in church life. Paul faced down both Peter and Barnabas peter Galatians 2:11-21. The apostle was gentle, 2 Corinthians 10:1. Yet he was heavy if need be, 2 Corinthians 13:1-3. We must not be afraid to grasp nettles and deal with issues in the church.  Leadership can be lonely, 2 Timothy 4:16. Sloppy service must not be tolerated in the church because members are "volunteers". Bad theology. Church members have been enlisted in the service of Christ.
4. Hard work

Paul commended those who worked hard in Romans 16. He worked hard,  1 Corinthians 15:10. But in working hard we must do the right things, Ephesians 5:15, Philippians 1:10. That said, a workaholic is not a good leader. 

5. Pastoral care

Paul could be very tender and motherly, 1 Thessalonians 2:7, but he could also be firm and fatherly, 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. He knew care or anxiety for the churches, 2 Corinthians 11:28. The same word is used in Matthew 6:25 and Philippians 4:6. This was not a selfish anxiety, but an expression of Paul's pastoral heart, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. See also his concern for the believer under discipline at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 5 cf.  2 Corinthians 2:3-11. Paul prayed for his co-workers and the churches.

6. Practical encouragement

According to USA's President Trueman, leadership is about "getting people to do what they don't want, and to like it". Paul  led by encouraging the churches and his fellow-workers. He thanked God for them, Colossians 1:3-8. Sometimes we can become jaundiced and have a narrowed vision of the what the Lord is doing, but we need to encourage our people that God is working in the world today. Paul warmly commended people to the churches, Philippians 2:19-24 & 25-30.  See also Romans 16, where he mentions 30 people, 11 of whom were women. Recognition and gratitude are important. Remind people that their labours are not in vain, 1 Corinthians 15:58.

7. Tact and diplomacy

Tactful teaching on giving, 2 Corinthians 8.
Tactful handling of the issue of Onesimus the runaway slave in Philemon.
Tactful intervention to reconcile warring church members Philippians 4:2.

8. Clear vision

Paul knew which battles to fight,  Titus 3:9. We don't have to win every battle and always insist on having our own way. He had a vision for training leaders 2 Timothy 2:2. He was good at delegating work to others, Titus 1:5. He knew the difference between tactics and strategy, keeping his focus on the latter.

9. Sincere humility.

Paul wasn't threatened by the ministry of others, Philippians 1:12-18. He had the mind of Christ, Philippians 2:5-11. He changed his mind about John Mark, Acts 15:36-41 cf. 2 Timothy 4:11. Sometimes we need to be willing to admit we were wrong and make a u-turn. Humility is essential for ministry, Hebrews 5:1.

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