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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

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

 

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The Key to Leadership

KeyWe need godly leadership in the body of Christ.  But what’s the greatest character trait that a leader needs?  Here’s one that I think is high on the list.

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

The Apostle Paul wrote this section of Scripture to encourage spiritual leaders to be faithful to their calling.  He’s talking to those who work in the ministry.

The word regard means, to account or to take inventory.  In essence, we’re told that when other people take inventory of our lives as leaders, it should be obvious to them that we are servants of Christ.  It should be just as obvious that we’ve been entrusted with the secret things of God.

Unfortunately, what should be is not always what happens in reality.  There’s some uncertainty in Paul’s writing because he uses the phrase men ought to.  This means that he faced the same problem in his generation that we have today.  There are many leaders who don’t live up to their high calling in Christ.

The issue should be as clear to those around us as it was to the members of the Sanhedrin in the book of Acts.  It says that when meeting with the apostles they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  The apostles talked, ministered, and acted like Jesus.

That should be our testimony as well.  It’s sad that in many parts of the church, ministry has fallen short of from this ideal.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32

In context Paul is teaching on the subject of the Lord’s Supper.  He makes it clear, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that if we would only take the time to judge ourselves we would not come under judgment.

When will we learn this simple lesson?  We wait for condemnation to come on us from the outside before we’ll take a long, hard, and honest look at ourselves.  Then, when we’re criticized for our failure to follow in the footsteps of Christ, it seems to be easier to get defensive than to take stock of our own lives.

We should be constantly comparing ourselves to the ministry of the Lord.  Only in that way can we be assured that we’re adequately portraying the role of a leader.

In the verse, from I Corinthians 4 above, Paul uses the word servant.  It actually refers to an under-oarsman.  Like those responsible for propelling the ship forward, we have a shared ministry with Christ.

Leaders need to be supplying vision to the people.  The church should have a forward momentum because of our commitment as those who lead.  In most cases, if a rowboat isn’t moving, the problem lies with the oarsman.

It’s up to us, as those in ministry, to set the speed and direction as ordered by Christ.

Questions: What are your areas of ministry?  How do you submit those areas to Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Leadership, The Church

 

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4 Traits of a Godly Woman

Pray1This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. As it approaches, I’m thankful for the godly women in my life. I’m thankful for my wife who stands beside me, and works with me in ministry.

Then there’s my grandmother – the first in her family to come to Christ and my mother, who faithfully made us attend church whenever the doors were open. Lastly, my daughters, who have now picked up the torch of Christ and continue our legacy of faith.

What is it that qualifies a woman as “godly?”

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Titus 2:3

I believe that by using the word older here, Paul is talking about older in the faith. It’s someone who has experience in serving God.

1. Godly women seek maturity.

This should come naturally in our walk with the Lord. It should always be our goal to grow up in Christ. It’s normal for a child to want adulthood.

The word reverent is interesting in the above verse. In the Greek it’s a compound word. The first part of it means to be outwardly consecrated to God, sacred. In a way, it’s one step down from holiness. The word emphasizes the outward look.

2. Godly women live for Christ outwardly.

There’s an outward display of godliness. Can people tell that you’re dedicated to God by your actions, your words, or the way you work? Is there an outward show of Christ? The faith of a godly woman should be obvious to those around her.

The second part of the compound word means to tower up.

It’s one thing to be dedicated to God. It’s another to “tower up” for God. A tower assumes that you’re higher than the surrounding landscape. A tower is conspicuous.

3. Godly women live for Christ unhidden.

Jesus talked about us living for Him like a city on a hill.

“If I live like that I’ll be noticed.”

That’s how we are to live. This requires us to be careful in what we say and do. You have to count the cost of this type of lifestyle. I’m talking about living radically for Christ.

The last thing I see in the above verse is the phrase, in the way they live. It literally says the position or condition of their life. The grace you receive from God is always based on position. You need to be in the position of building up a tower of outward consecration to God.

4. Godly women are positioned to build.

She is building a life sold out to the Lord. But she is also building up the faith of those around her. The foundation is Christ. The rest of the materials come from her obedience to the call of God that’s upon her.

Praise the Lord for the example and faithfulness of godly women in the body of Christ.

Questions: Who are the godly women in your life? How will you honor them this Mother’s Day?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Encouragement, The Church

 

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How to Get Ready for the Lord’s Return #returnofchrist

Clouds ReturnIf you’re like me, then you can see by world events that the return of Christ is quickly approaching.  What does it take to be ready for that great day?  Some believers give the impression that it’s enough to simply sit back and wait for His coming.  It’s important to know what Jesus said about it.

At one point in His ministry, Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house for dinner.  He gave many important teachings there.  But for the purposes of this post I will only look at one of them.

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Luke 14:12-14

Sometime during this get together, the Lord turned to the Pharisee and talked about his motivation for throwing a party.  A party might be given to impress people and increase your standing in the community so that you’ll be invited to bigger and better parties later on.

According to Christ, if that’s your motivation, then you’ll have no future reward.  Jesus advises us to lay up treasure in Heaven.  We do so by showing kindness and inviting those who cannot repay us.

Jesus makes it clear that at the resurrection of the righteous there’s going to be rewards.  He’s just as clear that our rewards will be based upon our obedience.

Knowing this, we should be constantly aware of our calling.  Our desire should be to please the King and to be found faithful at His return.  Who are you trying to please?  Are you trying to impress the world with your greatness?  It’s time for us to wake up and become “God pleasers” instead of “man pleasers.”  This is how we prepare for the Lord’s return.

Being prepared doesn’t mean sitting around watching the sky and waiting.  It’s all about doing the Master’s business.  Is God’s call on our lives important enough for us to seek it out?  Once we do, are we faithful enough to complete our assignment?  These are the kinds of questions we must ask if we’re to be truly ready for the Lord’s return.

Be prepared.  Be faithful.  Be found working at your assignment when the Master arrives.  You’ll never regret it.

Question: How prepared for the Lord’s return is the church in general right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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