RSS

Tag Archives: church leaders

The Spirit-Fruit: Gentleness

In today’s post, I’ll be talking about the fruit of gentleness as found in Galatians 5:23.   Many people associate gentleness with weakness.  In actuality, just the opposite is true.  According to Scripture, it’s impossible to be gentle if you’re weak.  You must be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t think anyone would accuse Jesus of being weak.  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Yet this is what it says about Him as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey…

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'”
Matthew 21:4-5

The question is; was that the best the Lord could come up with to ride into Jerusalem?  If it was…if all He could come up with was a donkey, then He was pretty weak.  The fact is that Jesus had the power to break through the heavens, coming down from the clouds on a white stallion.

Even though the Lord has great power, He chose not to use it on that occasion.  This is the true spirit of gentleness.  Look at how it operated in the Apostle Paul’s life.

There were some people in the Corinthian church who were opposing Paul’s authority.  He gave them an interesting choice in his letter to them.

What do you prefer?  Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 4:21

There would be no reason for Paul to threaten them with the “whip” of apostolic authority if he didn’t have any.  The truth is that the apostle had the authority needed to put them in their place.  Yet, his desire was to not have to use it.

So if we were to define gentleness according to its use in Scripture, I’d say that it’s placing my power, under God’s control.

This is the hardest thing to do sometimes.  That’s especially true when I know that I’m in the right.  I want to bring the full weight of my scriptural authority down on their heads.  Unfortunately, that’s usually not the best idea.  I need to be led by the Holy Spirit in my responses to people.

This is why I must spend time in the spirit.  I need to be able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in all the situations I’m going through.  This is true for all church leaders.

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:25-26

That’s because the goal is not to prove that I’m right or that you’re wrong.  The ultimate objective is a life that is turned around for God’s glory.  Many times, by our arrogance, we win the battle, yet lose the war for the hearts of people.

We may have proved our case, but they were never set free from the devil’s bondage.  True gentleness allows for the working of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.  So we need to listen and obey His voice, even when our tendency is to defend ourselves.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Galatians 6:1

This teaching is found throughout the Scriptures.  Gentleness brings restoration.  When you cultivate the spirit of gentleness, you’re participating in drawing someone back to Christ.  Spend time with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to produce this fruit in you.

Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s gentleness operating through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leaders Care

I’m posting about First Thessalonians, one of the foundational writings of the New Testament.  At the end of the letter, Paul is giving some final principles that will help their growth.

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14

It’s obvious that Paul is talking to the church leadership in this section.  The word, warn, in this verse is the same word admonish, that was used in the previous verse.  (I talked about it in my last post.)

These are things that true leaders should be watchful over.  The problem is that in our generation, so many people don’t want their leaders to be looking out for them.  We want to live however we choose with no accountability for our choices.

Then, if a leader truly cares about us, and warns us of the dangers of our lifestyle, we get upset and leave the church.  If God’s people are going to become a great spiritual force, then we need to listen to the exhortation of our leaders.

The first thing Paul says that a leader must do is to warn the idle.  This literally means to warn those who are out of order or unruly.

We know that the Lord we serve is a God of order.  The church, as well as our private lives, needs to be arranged according to His plan.  When we start deviating from His order, then we need to be warned of the trouble we’re getting ourselves into.

The next thing Paul tells us is to encourage the timid.  This is actually a very important part of being a leader.  The phrase literally means to relate near to the weak-souled.  The Greek word for relating near to someone implies telling your story to them.

A lot of times those who are weak in the faith think that those in leadership were born into it.  They don’t know the struggles, challenges, failures, or insecurities of those who lead.  When we share our stories with them, they begin to see what God can do through anyone who’s willing to follow the leading of the Spirit.

Another part of leadership is to help the weak.  This means to stand next to, and hold up the unestablished.  There are those in the body of Christ who haven’t put their roots down deep yet.  We need to be there to help those people to stand strong.

In a garden, there are times when you have to tie a young plant to a pole, to keep it stable, until its roots are deep enough to sustain it.  It’s the same with God’s people.  Many need the support and encouragement of a stable believer until they can stand firm on their own.  Too often we’re guilty of letting young believers fall away because we assume they know how to live for Christ right from the start.

The final part of leadership is to be patient with everyone.  Now that’s the tough one.  I’ve heard people say that they’re praying for patience.  That’s actually not the best way to become patient.

The reason for this is because patience is not a commodity you can receive; it’s a choice you have to make.  Patience is a choice to be willing to wait for God’s perfect timing in a matter.  It involves seeing things from God’s perspective and knowing that the final chapter of someone’s life hasn’t been written yet.

These are all important goals in the ministry of church leadership.  We, as leaders in the body of Christ, need to realize the truth that the Lord is looking for these qualities in us.  We aren’t judged on their response, only on our willingness to care for and encourage those under us.

Question: What growth have you seen in the lives of people who you’ve encouraged?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leaders and Followers

I’ve been looking at Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church.  As one of the first New Testament Scriptures written, it has a lot of foundational principles for us.  One of these has to do with church leadership.

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Live in peace with each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

The word translated respect in this verse means to know by seeing, watching and observing.  We are to focus upon those who we know are our leaders in the Lord.  In this way, we can observe the direction we’re to be heading.

This verse is important for us to hear.  It tells us some of the jobs that God expects His leaders to perform.

The verse tells us that our leaders are to admonish us.  That literally means that they’re to put things into our minds.  By observing them, we learn what we’re to be accomplishing for Christ.  We also learn what to be careful for.

Too often we don’t want to be led.  We want to make our own choices without anybody else’s input. Then we get in trouble because we miss out on the insight that only comes through experience.

But how exactly do we focus on each other so that we all keep in step with what God’s doing?  We see a great example of this in Scripture, when Paul was first saved and he met with the Apostles in Jerusalem.

James, Peter, and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.  They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
Galatians 2:9

This is an interesting verse.  When they met together, the Apostles understood how the Lord works.  They didn’t expect Paul to operate exactly the way they did.

It says that they recognized the grace that Paul had been given.  This is a spiritual perception that comes from time with the Holy Spirit.

Too often we take a “cookie-cutter” approach to ministry.  We find what God is calling us to do and we run with it.  But, because it works well for us, we make the assumption that everybody should be ministering the same way that we do.

That’s foolish.  We’re all different.  Not only that, but we’re all called to reach different people.  What you do in your ministry will never work to reach those I’m called to deal with.

It’s the Holy Spirit who organizes what we do.  That’s why it’s so important to let Him take the lead in showing us how to minister.

I must be able to watch what you’re doing for Christ and recognize the grace that’s operating through you.  Then, even seeing the differences, we can still march together in unity.

Unity and fellowship are all about knowing our place in the body of Christ.  It not only means that I recognize those marching next to me.  I need to see those who are marching in front of me, leading me. I also need to recognize the ones behind me, who are following my example.

Only then can we accomplish all that the Lord has for us to do.

Questions: Who are the leaders you are following?  Who are those that are following you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 5, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Bodyguard

HandsThis will be my last post in a series about spiritual warfare as seen through the eyes of David’s mighty men. In my last article I talked about Abishai, who was a giant killer, just like David. Now we’ll learn a little more about him.

He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
2 Samuel 23:23

He wasn’t the same type of fighter as The Three. He probably didn’t hang out with them. They liked a good battle with uneven odds. He liked to go one on one with a giant. The good news is that we don’t have to all be the same.

When David saw his ability, he put Abishai over his bodyguards. And that’s the last big point I want to make. The mighty in spirit protect their leaders.

In the body of Christ, it seems like we’ve picked up the world’s spirit. Many times we treat church leaders the way we treat government officials. We gossip and joke about them. Sometimes we out rightly ignore them.

I believe it’s because we don’t understand the body of Christ. In reality, a pastor or church leader is not a commander, a president, or a king.

Personally speaking, when I hear from God, usually it’s when I’m minding my own business. I never wanted to enter the ministry when I was young. But when I wasn’t expecting it, the Lord spoke to my heart.

“Son, I’ve given you a gift of being able to take my Word and explain it with simplicity. You make My Word accessible to a lot of people. So I’m going to wrap you up as a gift to My church to help them attain to my calling on their lives.”

It wasn’t my plan. It’s actually all about your call and abilities. God has called me to encourage you, through the Word, to fulfill God’s calling. That’s all I’m able to do. That’s all any church leader is able to do.

What you do with me is totally up to you. You can choose to listen, ignore, blame, or talk about me. Of course you could also choose to receive my counsel and to pray for me. My prayer is that you decide on the second route.

That’s because those who lead are under greater attack from the enemy. People in church leadership need intercessors to go to war for them. It’s vital that there are those who are committed to protect their leaders daily in prayer.

We need spiritual bodyguards. It’s time to get some back at their posts in this generation. Are you a mighty bodyguard? Do you pray regularly and consistently for those over you in the body of Christ?

Where do you fit in as a mighty one? After all, you’re all called to be one. Are you content to simply be a part of the 600? Or do you aspire for more – to be part of the 30, the three, or the one?

Question: How often do you pray for church leadership?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Remembering Your First Love

Snow HeartIn my last post I talked about time spent with the Lord. Sometimes the more work you do for God, the less time you have to spend in His presence. We looked at the following verse.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

Church leaders especially need to constantly be taking stock of their work. Why did you enter the ministry back then? What motivated you to work for the Lord?

It was the love of Christ that constrained you.   Why are you doing the work now? It needs to be done, no one else will do it, or it’s expected of you. If that sounds like you, than you’re letting your relationship with the Lord grow cold. You’ve lost your first love.

That’s why the Lord is seen as the one who walks among the churches. He’s the one inspecting the work. He’s checking not only what’s done, but also why it’s being done.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Timothy was a young pastor. Paul was his father in the ministry. Even though this was written almost two thousand years ago, it should serve as a warning to all of us in the ministry today.

There’s an inspection process constantly going on in the church. The Chief Shepherd inspects the work of the under-shepherds.

This verse says that we should be approved. That Greek word literally means inspected and stamped with a seal of approval. It doesn’t matter what man thinks of you. Are you approved by God?

This calls for self-evaluation. Paul said that if we would judge ourselves we would not come under judgment. When you take a long hard look at your spiritual life, what do you see? Has it grown in depth since you started out in the ministry?

Has the fire started to wane, and you find yourself more and more “running on empty”? If this is the case, it’s an indication that you’ve lost your first love. Don’t let pride – the unwillingness to admit your situation – keep you from God’s renewal process.

Even pastors are not exempt from this. That’s the reason for the rash of “clergy burnout” that’s seen across America in this generation. One study showed that 80% of all seminary graduates had left the ministry after 5 years.

Another study tells us that 1,500 pastors per month leave the ministry because of burnout, problems, and moral failure. Without a living relationship with the all-powerful Creator of the universe, we’ll never find the strength needed to cope with all the stresses placed upon us by the church work we’re involved in.

Are you on the fast track to a spiritual derailment? Do you feel like you’re constantly giving out and never replacing your spiritual stores? If so, then the time is now to make a course correction that will affect the rest of your life positively for the glory of God.

In my next post I’ll talk about the specifics of how to get back on track.

Question: How do you regularly take stock of your spiritual life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 17, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leadership – The Point of no Return

FinishIn my last post, I talked about being faithful to your calling. I started with the following verse.

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2

This should be very meaningful to church leaders. We are described as those entrusted with the secret things of God. The picture Paul uses here is that of a manager or steward.

In the Greek it’s a compound word, house-distributor. God has given us a trust, not only to receive deep things from the Lord, but also to distribute them.

This steward was the hired hand who oversaw the whole household operation in the master’s stead. He was the one responsible for its smooth efficiency. Again, if I’m going to fulfill this part of my role as a leader, I’m going to need to look to Christ as my model for the ministry.

Even after you’ve done all of this to the best of your ability, the Scripture says that there’s still one more thing that is required – faithfulness. You must be faith-ful. That means that someone can put his or her faith in you.

We always talk about having faith in the Lord. Rightly so – there’s no other person in the universe more worthy than He is to receive our faith. The problem is that we’re called to be just like Him. We are to be people who are faithful in the same way that He is faithful.

I’ve found that faithfulness in the ministry is hard to come by these days. Please realize I’m not talking about faithful works, but faithfulness to the call that has been placed before us.

It seems that many pastors and leaders have bought into the myth that’s being fostered in corporate America. They’re constantly updating their resume. That way they’re able to jump ship at the first sign of trouble or whenever a “better opportunity” arises.

We, as God’s people, have got to come back to the realization that success in ministry is not climbing a ladder; it’s following the clear call and leading of Christ.

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
I Corinthians 4:9

More and more I’m beginning to understand what Paul was writing about here. He’s not griping about the problems he’s facing in the ministry. On the contrary, he’s becoming aware of a fact that everyone in ministry must face.

He says that he feels like a man doomed to die in the arena. He’s just like a professional fighter who knows that he’ll always fight until the day his life will end.

If you’re going to be an effective leader, you’ll have to come to grips with the fact that you’ve made it past the point of no return. You need to know within yourself that there’s no going back. This calling is for good – there’s no safety net – you are going to “die in the arena” of ministry.

Question: Why is there such a temptation to quit the ministry when things get tough?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Leadership, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leadership and Serving the Word

Fine DiningWhat are the main responsibilities of church leaders?  Is it preaching, visiting the sick, running the church program; or is there something more important.

In this generation, many leaders are ignoring the most important aspect of their ministry.  To the extent that we miss this, the church suffers.

This concept was well known by the apostles in the early church.  It was something they wrestled with.

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.”
Acts 6:2

They literally said that it would not be right for them to leave the Word of God.  There was a ministry that needed to be done, yet was being neglected.  How often do pastors scoop up those things without a second thought?  After all, there’s no one else to do them.

This is a question that needs to be answered in Christian circles.  It causes so much strife.  Church people think it’s the pastor’s job to do everything.  Yet in doing these jobs, that the church people are supposed to do, the leadership is missing the very things that would cause growth.

That’s one of the hardest issues to resolve in church ministry.  Does a minister choose to please God or men?  You may think that’s an easy choice.  But, as someone who’s been there, I can tell you that it’s an unyielding pressure.

The congregation that pays your salary wants to see you working in the church.  Many times prayer and seeking God are seen as “slacking off.”

“Pastor, you need to do more around here.”

All the while we ignore the fact that it’s the church member that’s called by God to do the “nuts and bolts” of the ministry.

“Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Acts 6:3-4

The apostles came to the conclusion that it was more beneficial for them to be constantly diligent toward prayer and serving the Word.  That’s the choice.  Serving tables, doing all the things not getting done by those who should be doing it, or serving the Word.

Being a servant to the Word of God is our greatest calling.  That means listening, hearing, and obeying the Word of God spoken to us.  This is the most important aspect of ministry and must not be ignored.

Question: How much of your work for God is doing what God has spoken to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Ministry, Prayer, The Church, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,