Lecture 2: Pitfalls of Leadership – Part 2
Lecture 2: Pitfalls of Leadership – Part 2
Avoid taking the role of elder lightly and cultivate realistic expectations from yourself and others.
My favorite author is Richard Baxter. I love what he says about the people in his day; they come to the assembly with bleeding hearts. We have people coming to church and they have bleeding hearts. They want us to help mend them and this is our responsibility as Christian elders. There are three other pitfalls that I have seen in my life.
1. Make the Gospel the Main Message
We need to avoid spending all our energy on particular items without sharing the Gospel within their context. There are so many areas to get involved in today. There are so many issues to be involved with today. Something that is dear to my heart is education, Christian education verses secular education. I could easily get involved with arguing the point of Christian education verses secular education and the benefit for having Christian education. We can get involved with gun rights; anybody here a hunter besides me? I am a deer hunter; my son and I go deer hunting together. I love sitting up on my tree stand, twenty feet up in the air. It makes me feel significant! No, I like sitting up there because it is quiet; no one is there; no one is calling me and no one is asking me any questions. I am just there by myself and with the Lord. It is a beautiful experience. But I can make gun rights a major issue; I can make the abortion rates a big issue or same sex marriage. I am not saying not to get involved in these issues. I am saying that it isn’t the main issue. The main issue is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What I mean by that is simply, when we take the Gospel and share it with anyone, it is the highlight of our ministry.
When there are people who come to me with homosexual issues, I can tell them about all the recent studies from a DNA perspective to other perspective. But that isn’t the main focus I should have; it is good to know that information but when I see someone struggling and they don’t know Christ, my main job as a Christian counselor and elder is to preach Christ to them not in a mean derogatory way but in a way that shows them Christ. That is the answer to their life; it is the answer to all our lives. I was Roman Catholicism; I can remember on Fridays, not eating sausage on my pizza. If I ate that pizza with sausage on Friday, I thought I would go to hell. One of the first things I need in coming to Christ, I went out and got a steak to eat. So, what I’m trying to say: make the Gospel our main focus. There are all kinds of issues. When I’m up on the tree stand, I see a rabbit or fox go by; they are not my main reason for me being there. My main reason for being is the Gospel. The Gospel is the Good News and if you tell them the Gospel, you have to tell them the bad news. What is needed in their lives is repentance and when they come to Christ that is good news. We need to make that clear to them. (2 Corinthians 4:1-7)
2. Be Serious about Being an Elder
Another pitfall we need to avoid is not taking our position as elders seriously. Are you gifted to be an elder or not? Are you gifted to be a pastor or not? You need to take it seriously; get alone with the Lord and find out your motive for doing this stuff. What is my motive for really preaching or teaching or counselling? I can’t answer that for anybody else except myself. You can’t answer this by going to a conference. You need to get alone with the Lord and talk to him, pray and ask God to show you. But we all feel at times that we aren’t cut out to do what we are doing. One such theology professor said he felt like quitting every Monday. Monday can be a tough day for us preachers. We need to avoid the pitfall of never investigating our characteristics. You need to go to 1st Timothy 3 or Titus 1; and if you are married, ask your wife whether she thinks you are gifted to be an elder or not. If you are not gifted for such a ministry, you shouldn’t do it. For myself, I don’t want to ruin other people’s lives. I do understand; we feel at times that we are not gifted for what we are doing. I understand that. But some of us do have that gift and we need to cherish it and use it for the glory of God. I remember so often when I first became a traditional pastor when I was twenty-five years old. I had seven years of schooling down and I thought I was ready. I had been taking notes for seven years! I knew nothing! I thought that they came to listen to my notes; they didn’t come to listen to my notes! They wanted to know whether I could empathize with them, to identify with them. Yes, I was to teach them but did I know where their hearts were? If I don’t know, they will not listen to me. I was the choir director in this little Baptist church; I was the youth pastor, the chief administrator and counselor. I preached three times a week and I taught the adult Sunday school class. I look back at those years and wonder how in the world I did all of that. Why did I do that? What was my motive for doing that? I praise God that people became believers in that ministry and it was only in God’s providence. God was patient with me, teaching me; you can’t do this by yourself.
3. Know What the People Expect from You
The third pitfall that we need to consider; what specifically do the people in your church expect from you? Do you know? Do they know what they should be expecting from you? What are they expecting from you? These expectations get us into trouble. Even with your wife; she’s expecting something and you are expecting something totally different. I ask my wife some years back at a Valentine’s Day meal, what are you expecting from me in terms of romance? She referred to vacuuming the floor, but I never pictured vacuuming the floor as being romantic. I was expecting her to say something to me sexual. But that wasn’t what she was thinking; she was thinking that if I would help her, that was romantic. So, expectations get us into trouble with people. So what are people in your church expecting from you? What are you expecting from them? I love Paul’s statement in the epistles dealing with spiritual gifts. This is an expectation issue; do you know what your gifts are. Have you considered reading and concentrating and mediating with the Lord about Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4; can you say, yes, that is me. If you know your gifts and what your expectations are with the Lord, it is going to make life a little easier. So, what are your expectations? Do you know what the people in the congregation want from you? Do you know what you want from them? May God give us clarity!
So a pitfall that we need to avoid is spending all of our energy on particular items without sharing the Gospel. Another pitfall that we need to avoid is considering whether we are elder material or not. The last pitfall in about understanding what we are expecting from our congregation and what are they expecting from us.