Category Archives: Pastoral Leadership
Let me say at the outset that I am not implying that being single shortchanges you of lessons or experiences that can help grow your leadership. I am simply reflecting on my personal experience of being married (for 10 years; dated for 8) and the positive influence it has had on my maturity as a leader in the home as a husband (and father) and in the church as a pastor. The following are 20 leadership lessons that marriage has taught me. They are in no particular order of importance.
1. Seek to understand and not just to be understood.
2. Don’t interpret every disagreement as being unsubmissive.
3. Watch your words.
4. As a default, see differences (of personal preferences, opinions, ways of doing things) as complementary instead of incendiary.
5. Cultivate an environment of open, honest, and respectful dialogue.
6. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
7. Humbly own up to your weaknesses, failures, and sins.
8. Follow through on your commitments.
9. Don’t assume. Ask questions.
10. Be patient.
12. Receive personal assessments periodically.
13. Be proactive.
14. Play to your strengths.
15. Delegate your weaknesses.
16. Do what God says even if people don’t agree or understand.
17. Lead! And don’t think that you are being prideful or stubborn when you do, particularly when you are responsibly carrying it out in humility and love.
18. Prioritize your personal devotion time with God.
19. Eat right, exercise, and relax. You are not going to be too much good to anyone if you are run down and an emotional wreck. Don’t feel guilty about taking some “Me time.” You need it.
20. Appreciate those whom you lead. People will give you their hearts and hands when they know they are valued and not simply used by you.
More than likely those of us who are currently serving (or have served) as Associate Pastors (APs) have never been labeled as such. But just because something is not verbally expressed doesn’t mean that it isn’t being communicated, advertently or not. Thankfully, for the most part, it is not malicious, and neither is it characteristic of the experiences of APs everywhere.
If we were honest though, some of us would attest that on occasion, in particular churches and contexts with certain members we have indeed felt like second-class pastors (And, yes, it is possible that a person can feel or think something to be a reality when it is not. However, truth be told, there are occasions and contexts in which this is not simply a figment of the imagination). But most of us will probably not openly admit it because we do not want to appear weak, perceived by members – or approvingly viewed and used by detractors – as negatively blasting the church, or that we are placing our identity and significance at the feet of people’s opinions of us instead of at the foot of the cross of Jesus. So we just prayerfully, privately, and internally deal with it, and continue serving God’s people.
But I want to publicly come forward and say to my fellow Assoc. Pastors who are wrestling with this that you are not alone. I understand. I’ve been there. Gratefully, I am not there anymore…at least right now. I wrote this post for you, but not just for you. It is also for the Senior Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and members of your churches. What ensues are some practical ways of dealing with and counteracting this reality for three groups of people: Associate Pastors, Senior Pastors, and Members.
Lest some think that this whole issue is bogus and has no biblical underpinning, let me remind us of a segment of Paul’s final instructions to the church at Thessalonica, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” (1 Thess. 5:12-13a) To not do so, my friends, results in sentiments such as this one in the hearts of pastoral leadership.
Note: Please know that my perspective and points related to this subject come from a particular context. Adapt whatever you read to your reality. What you can take from it I pray is beneficial. The rest you can feel free to leave on the blog floor.
- Fundamentally, root your identity and value in Jesus and not in how others treat you.
- Understand the fact that you being appointed or hired as an AP says that the leadership values you and what you bring to the table by God’s grace and gifting. I understand value and appreciation should be communicated on a regular. But if it is not, at least you have this to fall back on.
- Don’t take it personal if a member (or members) continues to call you Rev. _____________ or [Insert Your Full Name Here] and not Pastor ______________. It could be that they are not used to referring to you by that title and simply forget, or are only used to calling the Senior/Lead Pastor (or whatever designation) “Pastor.” Even if a member refuses to call you “Pastor,” still try not to take it personal. Your life and ministry doesn’t revolve around him or her. You’ve been called by God to serve as a pastor at that church. Enough said.
- Don’t compare yourself to your Senior/Lead Pastor as it relates to public adulation. Realize that your Senior/Lead Pastor will attract more attention (and more criticism, by the way) than you due to him being the primary preacher and vision-caster.
- “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 – Although the context of this text is dealing with slaves in relationship to their masters, I believe there is a principle that is applicable to our situation.)
- Live out your pastoral calling without expecting the applause of people. If you don’t go looking for it, you won’t be disappointed if you don’t find it (at all or in some measure).
- Focus more on those who do express appreciation to you than those who don’t.
- Don’t be so quick to interpret all criticisms or disagreements as disrespect.
Some of the points below come from observing how my Senior Pastor, Dr. Karry D. Wesley, models before the congregation respect for us as APs.
- Whether you are publicly addressing or privately conversing with members, refer to your AP as Pastor _________.
- Give them credit for their ideas and work.
- Direct or re-direct members to speak with the APs regarding ministries, projects, or programs that fall under their oversight.
- When you are able, be present when your APs are preaching. This helps to set a tone for the membership to not skip out when you are not occupying the pulpit, and it teaches them to be eager to hear the Word of God preached regardless of who is doing the preaching.
- During Pastor Appreciation Month in October, encourage the congregation to show appreciation to all the pastors and not just yourself. If your congregation is not in the habit of doing this, then you can publicly honor them to set the precedence.
- As appropriate, ask your APs to conduct or be a part of a presentation at your State of the Church address or Vision Casting Night. This aids in establishing their leadership and responsibilities in the minds of the membership.
- Do a Ministry Spotlight (newsletter, video) featuring your APs.
- In your preaching or public praying, include them when you reference pastoring the church. For example, “Father, I pray that You will lead myself and all the other pastors of this church as we seek to shepherd Your people.”
- If you are a part of a church culture that customarily uses titles when addressing those in leadership and you personally do so as well, please give the same respect you have for the Senior Pastor to the Associate Pastors as well.
- Pray for the APs (and their families) of your church. Many times prayers of the members are only rendered for the Senior Pastor and his family (which I wholeheartedly agree with, support, and do). But we need your prayers as well.
- Respect and submit to the order that has been established in your church as it relates to your APs. For example: Don’t try to go around your AP’s leadership and oversight, in a manipulative fashion, in an attempt to get your proposal seen or approved by the Senior Pastor.
- Periodically express your appreciation to the APs of your church for their lives, love, labor, and leadership. Trust me, it goes a long way.
- “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17) Submission is a form of appreciation…so please do so willingly and delightfully.
I just ran across this blog post from Thabiti Anyabwile on preaching. In it he deals with a very common adjective that many of us have either used or have heard concerning those of us who preach: Powerful. But is this were the power lies, that is, in the preacher? Thabiti says “No.” And here is why: how-do-you-define-preaching-2
so he needs friends. God is the only one who is self-existent (the aseity of God). He has no need for anything or anyone to exist or to be fulfilled. We, however, were created with the capacity and need for human companionship. Your pastor(s) is (are) no different.
So here are a few suggestions to help the pastor(s) of your church in this area. These are just some cursory thoughts that I had regarding this issue, nothing extensive.
1. Pray for him that God would send people (both from the church that he is a part of and leads, and outside of it) into his life who will be godly and loyal friends.
2. Let him pick his friends.
Don’t force yourself or anyone else who you think would make a good friend for him. More than likely, your pastor didn’t choose your friends, so don’t choose his.
3. Don’t get offended if you are not included in your pastor’s inner circle of friends.
He still loves you as a member of the church. He, just like you, only has so much relational capital. This is one area where he mirrors Jesus. Over the course of about 3 1/2 years, Jesus in his earthly life and ministry spent a lot of his time and energy with 12 men (and gave at times special attention to 3 – Peter, James, and John) whom he called to be his apostles. Humanly speaking, Jesus knew that he couldn’t (nor wouldn’t) invest himself deeply in the large crowds that followed him. He knew his relational currency was limited and therefore leveraged it by investing it in a small group of men (and women) whom he, through God the Holy Spirit, would use later for multiplied missional impact.
He can only be close friends with a few people. So please don’t take it personal.
4. Respect your pastor and his friendships by not seeking to breach confidentiality between them.
If you hear wind of something about him or his family and go to the pastor about it and he doesn’t share the details with you, please don’t go to his friends seeking information.
N0te: If you are in a church that has multiple pastors, this not only applies to the Senior Pastor, but to the other staff pastors as well.
What else would you add to this list?
I remember my parents taking me to church every Sunday when I was a child. Back then, we would attend Baptist Training Union and Sunday School from roughly 8:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., and then turn around and get ready for worship service, which started at 11 a.m. and ended around 1:00 p.m. But that’s not all! We would often times come back or go to another church for a 3:00 afternoon service. We were in church services practically all day. Now this is not a call for us to go back to the “good ‘ole days.” I am just reminiscing over what church life was like for me growing up.
Why am I mentioning all of this? Well, because out of all the things that I remember doing (and being a part of), I rarely remember praying for my pastor, who was at the helm of all that was going on at our church. At the time, I truly didn’t understand why I needed to or what I should actually pray for. It was only after having grown some in my relationship with Jesus and in the knowledge of the Scriptures, and having witnessed my home church go through a split and tension-filled pastoral searches did I realize the importance of praying for him and other pastors. I saw not only the joys that my pastor experienced, but the sorrows, heartaches, harsh criticism, false accusations, wrong assumptions, and disappointments as well. To be honest, I still didn’t pray for him as much as I probably should have. Why? Because I didn’t understand or feel the weight of responsibility associated with pastoral leadership.
But now that I am a pastor, I get it. I really do. And, yes, I know that being an Associate Pastor is not at the level of responsibility as a Lead or Senior Pastor. Although it is not to the same degree, I still feel the weight and see and sense the spiritual warfare.
So, with this month being Pastor Appreciation Month, would you honor and care for your pastor (or pastors/elders, if you are at a church with multiple ones) by praying for him (or them)?
We need it so desperately.
And if you would like to know how to pray for us, here are some good suggestions from an article written by Pastor John Piper to the members of the church where he serves as an Elder and the Pastor for Preaching and Vision: Bethlehem Baptist Church.
Every year in October, churches around the country wear pink to remember those who have died from Breast Cancer and to support those who suffer from it or have survived it. Today, we observed Pink Sunday and encouraged our members to join the Antioch Team in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Dallas event coming up this weekend.
This Sunday was my day to preside over our worship services. I saw this as providential because on yesterday I, along with my family, mourned the loss and celebrated the life of my brother’s wife who died from breast cancer. As I stood behind the pulpit today to call our church to worship, I couldn’t help but to refer to my sister-in-law and her time suffering from cancer. Jesus was gracious towards Johnnie Mae. I know it can be difficult to acknowledge this in times of grief, but He was. He was gracious to save her from her sin. He was gracious to shape her in his image during her time in this life. He was gracious to sustain her during her sickness (to the point to where she had joy and peace through it all, and to where she never fell away from Him in terms of her faith and devotion). And lastly, He was gracious in being present with her as she switched from our presence to His.
We will miss her. Though we grieve, we – those of us in the family who have trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord – do not grieve without hope. As I said in my prayer at the funeral, we don’t say goodbye, we say see you soon because of the living hope that we have through our resurrected Savior, Jesus.
I began my teaching series on 2 Peter today. I’ve entitled it, “2 Peter: Living With The End In Mind.” We were scheduled to study verses one to nine for the first lesson, called, “Living A Quality Christian Life.” How about we only made it through verses one to three! Yes, I am shaking my head, laughing. I’ve got to do better at content and class management. Nevertheless, it was a great time in the Word.
I’m asking for your prayers this week as I prepare for a few speaking engagements coming up this weekend.
Saturday Morning – Cedar Hill High School’s Seniors Breakfast
Saturday Mid-day – Keynote Speaker at Greater New Bethel’s Men’s Conference (Pastor Nyal Bell)
Sunday Morning – Preaching at The Omni Church (Pastor Myron Hardy – http://www.omnichurch.org)
Have a great week!
P.S. – Yep, the Cowboys lost again today. That’s all I’m going to say about that. When does the NBA season start again? 🙂 I’m not hating on the ‘Boys. I’m just more of a basketball fan than football. Let’s go, Mavs (I truly hope they do well this season because I have some Lakers fan-friends who will not let me hear the end of it if they don’t.)!
The Booth is a musical spotlight on select Christian Rappers, those known and unknown.
It was a concept that was explored over this past weekend during Flavor Fest. Flavor Fest is basically a convergence of pastors, church leaders, and just Christians in general for a time of worship and biblical-theological training and missions development for those who serve in urban contexts. Go to www.flavorfest.org for more information.
Just a little something for us urbanites! Enjoy theology, gospel, and Bible put to a beat! Have a great day!
YOLO (You Only Live Once)
That was the title of a message I gave at Paul Quinn College’s Chapel service on this past Friday from the book of Ecclesiastes chapters 11 and 12. Here is a sketch of what I brought out in this passage:
There is a book of the Bible written by a man named Solomon who is now in his older years seeking to share his wisdom and reflection with us the younger generation about our human experience in this life. It is called the book of Ecclesiastes.
He reflects on topics such as: work, self-indulgence, living wisely, wealth, and wisdom and knowledge.
If anyone had the qualifications to speak on the things that he addresses in this book, it was him. He was the wisest man in his day. He had what many of us seek to obtain after we graduate from college: Position, Power, Popularity, and Possessions (He reigned as the King of Israel after his father David).
At the outset of and at various points throughout this book, he states that all these things (i.e., man’s activity under the sun), in and of themselves and as ends of themselves, are vanity (1. fleeting or transitory, 2. futile – it is to no advantage/useless/meaningless, and 3. incomprehensible).
As one commentary said about this book, “the dominant mood of the book is pessimism, but the author, Solomon, was no pessimist, cynic, or skeptic as some critics have claimed. He was a believer who sought to destroy people’s confidence in their own efforts, their own abilities, their own righteousness…”
But he also sought to direct us on how to truly and fully live this one and only life that we have been given under the sun. There are four commands that Solomon gives us in Ecclesiastes 11 and 12.
1. Rejoice in your youth (11:9)
God says through Solomon, “Enjoy life, particularly when you are young.”
Solomon encourages us to do what our hearts desire. But he knows better than just to give us a blank check. He knows well that our hearts or our human nature is bent towards wickedness, so he tempers our desires or passions with the sobering reality that God will bring us into judgment (vs. 9b).
This should cause us to pause and give some serious prayer and thought to the decisions we make in this life.
Enjoy life within the parameters that God has set. Enjoy life in light of God’s judgment.
2. Remove vexation (worry/sorrow/disturbed) from your heart and pain (also could mean “evil”) from your body (11:10)
Solomon essentially instructs us to take care of ourselves psychologically and physically (spiritually – by putting away evil). Why? “For youth and the dawn of life are vanity (i.e., fleeting).”
Stop fretting (resolve to no longer waste your emotional energy on things you can neither change nor control) and stop abusing your body in your young age (or stop doing evil).
3. Remember our Creator, God, in the days of your youth (12:1-)
Dr. William D. Barrick said the following regarding this verse: “Remembering one’s Creator involves more than mere memory or acknowledgment. For the Hebrew writers, “remember” involves action, or allowing the objects of remembrance to “shape one’s perspective in the present.” First, we must “drop our pretence of self-sufficiency and commit ourselves to Him.” If an individual neglects serving the Creator in intentional obedience to His Word, “the capacity for joy will be lost.”
4. Respect God and do what He commands (12:13-14)
Dr. Barrick quotes Daniel J. Estes when he writes, the advantage (meaning, fulfillment, satisfaction) “resides not in human achievement apart from God, but rather in human connection with God.”
Our lives will only find true fulfillment and satisfaction in relationship with God. Solomon says it this way in Ecclesiastes 2:24-25, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil [work]. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”
You only live [this life] once, so live it in relationship with God and in light of eternity.
Antioch’s 26th Church Anniversary
Today we celebrated our church’s 26th year of being in existence. God has truly been good to us! We had two guest preachers today (well, one was really not a guest.).
At Worship 1 (7:30 a.m.), our Pastor’s oldest son, Chris Wesley (Youth Pastor at Consolidated Baptist Church in Lexington, KY), preached on “It’s Coming!” from Genesis 50:24-25 and at Worship 2 (10 a.m.), Dr. R. Timothy Jones, Senior Pastor of Peaceful Rest MBC in Shreveport, LA, preached on “God’s Will for Your Life” from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It was a great time of worship and Word. We saw around 20 youth and young adults respond to Jesus in repentance and faith today! We are looking forward to baptizing them and discipling them in the way of Jesus!
We will conclude our church anniversary month this week with a three-day revival with Pastor Jimmy C. Baldwin Sr. (Shiloh Christian Community Family Life Center) from Baltimore, Maryland.
Well that’s about it. Have a great week!
P.S. – Thanks for your patience with my lack of posting over the last few weeks. This month has been super busy and I am still learning how to best manage all that is going on. Again, thanks for reading my blog and sticking with me.
Well, our conference season concluded yesterday with our Sisters Summit ’12. There were over 800 women who attended the conference on Saturday. It was great to see women sitting to study and standing to teach the Bible. Our Sr. Pastor’s wife, Cheryl Wesley, was the closing session speaker. She did a phenomenal job teaching and challenging the women to fight against sin and the ways of the world, and to resist the enemy through the wielding of “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word” (Eph. 6:17b).
Needless to say, I am one exhausted brother. But the last few weekends have been well worth the time and energy expended.
That number represents the people who we baptized today! Seeing all types of people come to personal faith in Jesus and obey him in being baptized, publicly identifying with him and his redemptive work for our sins, is an awesome sight to behold. We celebrated after each one was baptized. This time is also instrumental in reminding us of the Lord Jesus’ mission for his church: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV).
It was an honor to be able to play a role in carrying out a part of his mission this morning.
Today, I had the opportunity to preach to our Jr. High and High School students (some College students were present as well). I came from Romans 1:16 and entitled the message, “Unashamed”. The basic objective of the sermon was to educate them on what the gospel is and encourage them to not be ashamed to proclaim or share it with others. Here is a rough sketch of the body of my sermon:
What is the gospel? It is the Good News of Jesus. What’s the good news?
It is summarized in 1 Cor. 15:3-4.
Jesus died for our sins
Jesus was buried
Jesus was raised [from the dead] on the 3rd day
Sins? Are we really that bad? Well, let’s look at how the rest of Romans chapter 1 describes the human race.
We suppress God’s truth by our unrighteousness (vs. 18b)
We ignore God and exchange His glory for that of idols/false gods (vs. 21-23, 25)
We embrace sexual perversion (vs. 24, 26-27)
We commit all kinds of unrighteousness or sins (vs. 29-31)
Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. Why was Paul not ashamed? Because everyone else was coming out of the closet? No. Because his parents, relatives, or spiritual mentors were not ashamed? No. Paul was not ashamed because he knew the nature of the gospel. He knew the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (vs. 16). So let’s break this down.
“It [the gospel] is the power of God for salvation”
Only the gospel (i.e., Jesus’ redemptive work) is capable of saving us (“is” is present tense – the gospel is not just some old story that your grandparents and mine believed and that just worked back in the 60’s. The gospel is relevant for every generation because it is the only thing that saves us).
Saves us from what? From our sin and the wrath/eternal judgment of God (Rom. 5:9, Eph. 2:3, 5:6 – God’s wrath is future, but also present).
“to everyone who believes,”
The gospel saves only those who apply it to their lives by faith. Notice that we are not saved through our works (i.e., coming to church, reading our bibles, being good/moral, not committing the “big sins,” like having sex before marriage, drugs, murder, stealing, being baptized, etc.), but only through faith in Jesus.
We can’t earn salvation through our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“to the Jew first and also to the Greek (non-Jew).”
The gospel saves everyone who believes, no matter a person’s race, background, gender, social status.
It is for blacks, whites, hispanics, indians, chinese, etc.
It is for hindus, muslims, mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Satan Worshippers, atheists, agnostics, church-going non-Christians, unreligious.
It is for all the cliques in your school: the rockers, the skaters, the outcasts, the jocks/athletes, the mean girls, the gangstas/thugs, the bookworms or nerds, the bullies, the weed heads, the lesbians/homosexuals, the promiscuous.
It is for those who live in:
Americas: USA, The Bahamas, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Caribbean Island of St. Lucia
Africa: Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan
Asia and Oceania: Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Korea, Taiwan
Europe: Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom
I concluded the sermon by encouraging them to go into the world and proclaim the gospel in prayerful boldness, and I did this by playing a song by Lecrae off of his recent album Gravity entitled, “Tell the World” feat. Mali Music. Take a listen.
Finally, as a part of explaining what the gospel is, I showed a video of a spoken word piece by Propaganda. In it, he turns the word gospel into a helpful acronym – G.O.S.P.E.L. Watch.
Have a great week!
HALFTIME Men’s Conference
We had a great time in worship and in the Word at our men’s conference yesterday. It was great to connect with some of my friends, Pastors Bryan Carter, Stephen Brown, and Dr. Maurice Pugh. According to reports I received, the sessions were phenomenal!
I was honored to teach two sessions on “Obey the Refs”, which dealt with men submitting to God-ordained human authority. Here is my outline:
I. The Submission Trick Plays
A trick play is designed to deceive the opposing team. Two major trick plays associated with this idea of submission that many men have fallen for are:
a. Submission is a woman’s and/or child’s responsibility. That is not true. The act of submission to authority is applicable to men as well. It [submission] is fundamentally a part of the human experience.
b. Submission strips you of your manhood and significance.
II. One League Under God
If we turn to and look at Genesis 2 and 3, there we will see that we were created as a league of humans to be under God’s authority. And you will notice that Adam, the man, was especially to obey God since he was given the command to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17, 3:11).
III. Playing (Living) By Our Own Rules
Ever since that fatal day in the garden, humanity has rebelled (and continues to rebel) against God. The Bible describes us this way, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent (insulting or injuring someone out of pride), haughty (overestimate of one’s means and merits, despising others or treating them with contempt – looking down on them), boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Romans 1:28-31).
We see the reality of our rebellious nature and choices throughout the Bible and even in our current day.
The Golden Calf – Ex. 32
Pharaoh and the Plagues – Ex. 7-12
The People of Israel Doubt/Disobey God and don’t take the land of Canaan – Num. 14
Israel is defeated by AI due to Achan’s rebellion – Joshua 7
Saul loses his kingship because he disobeyed God – 1 Sam. 13:8-14, 15:1-26
Time of the Judges – Judges 2:11-2
Our position before God is one of an enemy (Romans 5:10a), someone opposed to God, which holds ramifications in our relationships with others as well, particularly those whose authority we find ourselves under
This is a major problem for us because our rebellion comes with repercussions, namely God’s righteous judgment against us for our sins. But thank God that has been changed through the righteous life and redemptive work of Jesus for our sins (Romans 5:10).
We are now children of God because of Jesus (John 1:12-13). We have peace with God through Jesus (Romans 5:1).
As a result of this, God now rightly positions us as it relates to those in authority over us.
IV. The G.O.A.T of Submission
Our greatest example of a man in submission to authority is our great God, Savior, and Lord Jesus. God personally got on the field of life to save us from our rebellion, as we just covered, and to show us how to humble ourselves under authority.
- He was (and is) submissive to God the Father (John 5:30, 6:38; Matt. 26:36-42) and God the Spirit (Luke 4:1, 18-19).
- Jesus also submitted himself to God-ordained human authority (Luke 2:41-51).
If Jesus submitted himself to authority, we can do no less.
V. Executing Submission
a. Know Your Position (in Christ)
We are God’s children. We are loved. Our value and significance as men are ultimately grounded in Christ and not in our Circumstances; it is found in our Position in the Lord and not in our Positions in this Life.
Some men believe that it makes them less of a man if they have to submit to someone else’s authority. Your identity and significance as a man is not rooted in the rank that you hold, but in the relationship you have with Jesus.
b. Listen to Your Coach (Holy Spirit)
Turn to Galatians 5:16ff and note the word “dissension” in verse 20. It means a desire to put yourself forward, a partisan and factious spirit. But when we listen to our coach, when we are led by Him, He produces fruit in our lives that is applicable to this subject of submission.
The question becomes then: How do we hear from Him? He always speaks to us through the Bible and according to the Bible. Let’s turn to 2 Timothy 3:16.
The Bible is God’s Book. It is profitable for:
Teaching – The Bible instructs us about God, Humanity, and Life.
Reproof – The Bible chastises (disciplines) us.
Correction – The Bible restores our lives to a right state.
Training in Righteousness – The Bible directs us on how to live a life that reflects Jesus, which pleases God.
c. Follow the Plays (the Bible)
So what does the Bible say about submission, about us obeying the refs (i.e., human authority)?
There are four submission play packages, each with a corresponding “situation on the field”.
1. Submission as it relates to your parents. (Ephesians 6:1-2, Colossians 3:20)
We are to obey our parents.
We are to honor our parents.
Paul continues in Ephesians and says that we should honor our father and mother. What does it mean to honor them? We respect them in how we think about, speak to, and act around and towards them.
We provide for them when they are in need, especially when they are widowed (1 Timothy 5:3-5, 7-8).
2. Submission as it relates to your church.
According to Hebrews 13:17, we are to obey (listen to, yield to, comply with) and submit to (deference to their leadership) our leaders (Elders/Pastors, and by way of extension -Ministry Leaders/Deacons). Why? For they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account to Jesus
3. Submission as it relates to your employer.
We are to obey our employers/bosses/managers with the utmost seriousness and sincerity, as we would Christ, not by way of eye-service (i.e., jobs performed only under the boss’ watchful eye), but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. (Eph. 6:5-8; cf. also Colossians 3:22-25).
In 1 Peter 2:18-25, Peter addresses another reality here that we need to consider when it comes to submitting to our employer/boss/manager/supervisor. We are to submit to our bosses, managers, supervisors, even those who are unjust (unfair, surly – bad tempered/unfriendly, froward – a person who is difficult to deal with).
4. Submission as it relates to your governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7; cf. also – 1 Peter 2:13-17)
Is there ever a time when we are not to submit to human authority?
Yes, whenever human authority goes against divine authority. In other words, if a human authority seeks to order us to do anything that is in clear violation of God’s Word, we are not to comply.
What if the issue I have with an authority figure is not sinful in nature but a difference of opinion, philosophy, or direction? How do I handle that?
- Pray for yourself and the person in authority, and about the situation. Ask God for humility, perspective, wisdom, and discernment.
- Seek godly counsel.
- Understand that there may be other variables that played into the decision-making process that you may not be aware of.
- Rate the issue at hand. Is it a battle that involves you and if so, is it worth fighting?
- Talk with him/her in person, respectfully.
- Own up to any mishandling or misunderstanding of the issue on your part.
- Exercise caution when thinking about venting your frustrations to others, particularly co-workers.
- Keep the big picture in mind. Is this issue going to significantly impede you from doing what you were hired to do or the company/org/church from fulfilling its overall goal or mission? If not, then you submit to the decision and/or direction.
- Stay in your lane, unless asked by your supervisor/leader, to momentarily come over into his/hers. In other words, do what you were hired to do. Don’t focus on things that you cannot change or control.
- Appeal to a higher authority (HR, the head of your boss, pastors/elders), if the situation is significant enough to warrant such action and only after you have done all that you can do to try to resolve it.
- Leave well, so far as it depends on you. Don’t blow up the supervisor, pastor, leader, organization, dept., company, church, ministry on your way out.
A “Political” Sermon
Dr. Karry Wesley preached a topical message today entitled, “The PC Sermon” from Hosea 4:1. The sermon was about the politial climate that we are in and what should our response be as Christians. And, no, he did not endorse either candidate, neither directly nor indirectly. He handled the subject well. It was a timely message.
Sisters Summit ’12
We are anticipating over 800 women in attendance! We are finalizing all of our preparations this week. As you did for HALFTIME, please pray for the Sisters Summit ’12 . Thanks.
Have a great week!