Lecture 1: Pitfalls of Leadership - Part 1
Lecture 1: Pitfalls of Leadership – Part 1
Consistent time in the Scripture and close relationship with at least one or two other spiritual men are important elements of leadership.
Well, I’m going to start off with a premise: we live on a fallen planet and all of us here are fallen creatures. If you don’t believe that, look around your own world. I love what the apostle Paul says in Romans 8; for we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Not only the creation but we who are the first fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as Sons of Redemption of our bodies. But you will note in that verse that it talks about groaning and that is exactly what we do. When I was first a Christian, I remember going through Luke’s Gospel in this one course. And essentially, what we looked at the prayer of Jesus that said the elect cry day and night. I used to wonder how God’s people could cry out day and night, and then when you get older and get married and have kids and then grandkids and then you know what that verse means. You start crying out day and night and when you become an elder, you find yourself crying out day and night and you find yourself groaning. That is part of the Christian experience. Hopefully I am going to speak to you from my heart that has been regenerated by the Spirit. I want to give some practical thoughts on counselling later on. But, at this point, I want to look at some pitfalls at being an elder. I want to look at three in this segment.
1. Spend Time with the Lord
The first one is a pitfall that you men and I need to avoid. The first is avoiding consistent time in the Scriptures, a quiet time; a time alone in the Scriptures. One of the threatening aspects about living in America; we are afraid of being alone and we are afraid of the quiet. We need to spent time alone. If you are going to prevent burnout in your ministry, you must prioritize your time in the Scriptures where the Lord can deal with you. This is not so much about sermon preparation or about teaching or about counselling, but you must have time by yourself with the Lord so he can deal with you. It is just you and the Lord. There is something about this that brings joy to the Christian. So this first point is to spend time in the Word by yourself with the Lord, listening to the Lord. A few months ago I had the privilege of dealing with five different pastors over the period of a month. All of them were burned out; that was their complaint. One of the questions to get them into the place of restoration was to ask them about their quiet time. Talk to me about the time where you get alone with the Lord, not preparing a sermon but just talking to the Lord and praying with the Lord. Part of the healing process of them and their wives was to take them through a time where they just got alone with the Lord and had the Lord speak to their hearts.
Some of you people may be feeling burned out today. You can be restored by spending time with Jesus. If he is alive today, he can revive your soul and mine. There are times where I need to be revived. There are times where I just want to quit what I’m doing. There are times when I want to be done with people. There are times where I need to hear the Lord deal with my heart. So, don’t get into the pitfall of not spending time with the Lord. Let God’s sovereignty and the personal work of his grace work in your heart as you spend time with him. I love what Jesus says in Matthew 11, come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Did you know that he was talking to elders here? He is talking to pastors here! Yeah! Come to me all you who are weary. The word weary refers to exhaustion. So, Jesus is saying, if you are exhausted, come to him. He will give you rest.
2. Avoid the Lack of Spiritual and Emotional Accountability
We need to avoid the pitfall of avoiding spiritual and emotional accountability. I wonder if you have a person that you are accountable to, spiritually and emotionally. I am talking about someone, a person who knows you very well, a person who can look at your face and tell whether you are off tract or not. I need this myself. I have a friend who I’ve known for seventeen years now; we get together once a month and we have this little agenda that we go through. We have certain questions that we ask; for example, how are you doing with your wife? What about your children? Tell me about your ministry and your finances. We get in each other’s face. We hold each other accountable about those particular things. Don’t avoid friends that you can discuss these things with, for the devil loves to get us off by ourselves. The devil will put lies into our minds saying that no one cares about us. The devil loves to get you off by yourself and when that happens, Satan and his cohorts attack you. That is why Jesus sent people out two by two. I love Solomon’s statement in Ecclesiastes in 4:9-10: two are better than one; if one falls the other one picks him up. Woe to the one who falls when there is not another one to pick him up. A lot of people have fallen all around us. You and I both know these people and I have to guard my own heart. That is why I need someone who can ask me about those things. So avoid the consistent desire to be alone and not work with others in terms of accountability.
3. Don’t blame others for Your Personal Problems
We need to avoid the pitfall of hiding and blaming others for our own personal problems. It is by nature for us to want to hide and blame. We see this on the news every night, don’t we? It is prolific in politics; that is what the nations are doing, hiding and blaming. What those wives and husbands are doing in our congregation. They are hiding and blaming. We elders do the same with hiding and blaming. We can hide and blame others for the way we are. This is part of our fallen nature. This is emotional hiding; are you depressed or filling fearful? Are you filling anxious? I know all of those, of being depressed, fearful and anxious. I have felt each of these in my own life. The easy thing for me to do is to think that isn’t me. I’m not feeling depressed, I’m not anxious or I’m not really an angry person. We can be angry people and not really admit it to ourselves for we can hide it and we can blame. We can say the reason why I’m an angry person is because I’m Irish or Italian or German. We blame our ancestry, we blame our mothers and fathers or we blame the place where we live. I am spiritually cold because I live in Canada. We are cold because we don’t want to connect with the Lord. In Genesis 3:8-13, they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day and the man and his wife hid themselves. That is why we hide emotionally from each other. They hid themselves in the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden. The Lord called to the man, where are you, not that he didn’t know. He wanted to bring conviction on them. In Genesis 3:10, Adam said, I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid. This is just like you and I get at times. I was naked and I hid myself and the Lord confronts them, who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? The man said, the woman whom you gave me. Now he is not only blaming Eve but also blaming God. That is part of the hiding process. Lord, you put me in this situation. If I wasn’t in this situation, I would be better off. I have done this, myself! And what does God want from us? Don’t hide! Stop hiding from each other. God wants you to acknowledge the way it really is.
We need to avoid the pitfall of not having a consistent time studying the Word. We need to avoid the pitfall of avoiding spiritual and emotional accountability. We also need to avoid the pitfall of hiding and blaming others.