Growing In Godliness Blog
Nothing of God DiesFriday, March 03, 2023
Nothing of God Dies
By Victor A. Osorio
Change in life is inevitable. We know that. We understand the importance of flexibility and resilience. However, change is often challenging…and the church is not immune.
The Israelites were struggling with change as we begin reading in the book of Joshua. Moses had just died. The people were in shock. Leadership was paralyzed. Followership was stunned. Then God speaks. In Joshua 1:2, God tells Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them…”
It seems subtle. But do you wonder why God told Joshua “Moses My servant is dead”? After all, in Deuteronomy 34:8, we read, “So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.” So, the Israelites, including Joshua, were well aware Moses was dead. This makes one wonder – did God tell Joshua this fact plainly for Joshua to begin to accept reality and move on?
It was at this point we see Joshua begin the transformation into the mighty man we quote in Joshua 24:15, and revere for leading God’s people in battle. But he didn’t seem to be completely that way at first. Four times in the first chapter of Joshua he is commanded or encouraged to “be strong and courageous” – three times by the Lord (Joshua 1:6, 7, and 9) and once by the people (Joshua 1:18).
We, too, in the local outpost of the Lord’s army, can become disoriented when a leader moves on. The history of God’s people is, unfortunately, riddled with stories of churches who struggled when an elder, preacher, or beloved member passes on, becomes incapacitated, or moves away. The story of Joshua tells us that ought not to be so. The Lord’s church is greater than any one person.
A.W. Tozer wrote, “When a man of God dies, nothing of God dies.” How true is that!? While Moses passed on, God was still sovereign. When the people were mourning, God’s care was still omnipresent. When Joshua’s vision of what to do next was disoriented by death, God’s omniscience was unclouded. When the people went into battle with an unproven commander, God was still omnipotent. When God’s people are in a period of change – God is unchanging. And we are His church.
Kerry Keenan is a great man of God. I remember vividly as a new convert back in 1997 when a beloved leader of the congregation passed on. Kerry, with His godly heart and strong leadership, while not the full-time preacher at the time, got up and challenged us young men to “fill the gap.” After recapping all the fallen leader had done and how he would be missed, he didn’t end there. Rather, Kerry focused on all the work of God that needed to be filled – by someone. I was reminded of this recently when I read that at Winston Churchill’s funeral, by his request, one bugler played “Taps” as another simultaneously played “Reveille.” Churchill wanted the people of Britain to know his death was by no means England’s last note, but a call for others to stand up for action.
No doubt, our church will face seasons of change. Those seasons may include losing people we love, look up to, and who will leave large gaps in the work. God’s message to us then will be the same, “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!” In those times, true leaders will have to emerge and fill the gap, even if the gap is so large it takes two, or even three, to fill. We will have to have the wisdom to know when to insist the bugler change the tune, or courage to take the instrument from his hand. Most importantly, we will have to remind each other of Tozer’s words – nothing of the great God we serve is dead.
Elders and LeadershipWednesday, December 02, 2020
Elders and Leadership
by Gary Watson
The role, work, and characteristics of elders are clearly listed in Titus and 1st Timothy. Examining the nature of elder leadership will help us understand God’s plan for the effective work of congregations.
“Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to "win" as a team or an organization; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring. Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.” (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_41.htm)
The professional and business world knows the importance of good leadership for accomplishing their goals. Following is an analysis of leadership skills from the business and professional world coupled with appropriate scriptures.
1.Open-minded and Humble
Is he self-willed (head strong, contentious)? (Titus 1:7)
*Greek word authades ‘selfwilled’ is used twice in the NT, here and in II Peter 2:10. Denotes one who is “dominated by self-interest, and inconsiderate of others, arrogantly asserts his own will” (Expository Dictionary of NT Words, by W.E. Vine).
*“one so far overvauling any determination at which he has himself once arrived that he will not be removed from it (Trench’s NT Synonyms).
*Such words as “self-satisfied, arbitrary, unconsidered, morose, gruff, blatant, and shameless” (Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of NT)
*“human impulse violating obedience to the divine command
Meek, considerate, kind, peaceable. Able to bear, endure strain. Not harsh nor unkind in manner.
2.Empathetic- Just (Tit. 1:8). One fair in his dealings, exact, upright, acting without partiality.
*“Watchful and vigilant imply acute perception of what is dangerous or potentially so” (Duncan, p 23)
*Watchful, both for himself and all the flock (Acts 20:28).
Given to hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8). A lover of hospitality. Not forgetful to entertain strangers (Heb. 13:2). Entertains members and strangers in the home - having the spirit of the good Samaritan. Shows a warm welcome to visitors at services, sets an example for the flock to follow.
*Gentle -- patient (1 Tim. 3:3).
*Meek, considerate, kind, peaceable. Able to bear, endure strain. Not harsh nor unkind in manner.
*Greek word translated “patient” occurs 5 times in the Greek. In Titus 3:2; James 3:17; I Peter
4.Confident- Desire the work (1 Timothy 3:1).
*Desire is translated from 2 Greek words. First, “to stretch one’s self out in order to touch or grasp something, to reach after or desire something” (J.H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the NT, p 452). The second, “to have a desire for, long for” (Thayer, p 238). The later is equal to our expression, “to set one’s heart upon” (Thayer).
5.Ethical and has Integrity Is he a lover of money (covetous, greedy)? (1 Tim. 3:3)
*An unhealthy desire for material possessions – an inordinate desire for money. Unholy desire for gain.
*“not covetous” I Tim 3:3 literally means “not to be fond of silver”. Same Greek word appears in Heb 13:5.
Blameless -- above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6).
*One against whom no evil charge can be sustained -- innocent -- not guilty of evil. This does not mean that elders must be sinless (Romans 3:23, I John 1:8). Jesus is the only man who ever lived a sinlessly perfect life (Heb 4:15). This man must be a man about whom no uncomplimentary evil rumors are circulated; character is to be unimpeachable. Elders must be men who live pure, clean lives.
6.Positive and Decisive- Sober -- sober-minded (1 Timothy 3:4; Tit. 1:8).
*Good common sense, mature in judgment, not frivolous, flighty, or flippant. But prudent, dignified, quiet, cool, collected, grave. Realizing the importance and earnestness of life.
*Humble- Not a novice from the Greek is “newly planted”. KJV margin note – “One newly come to the faith”.
*Why? “lest being lifted up with pride he fall into condemnation of the devil” – suggesting the sin for which Satan was expelled from heaven was the sin of pride (Luke 10:18).
7.Communicative, Accountable- 1 Peter 5:3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
Temperate (Tit. 1:8).
*Greek word naphalios signifies “abstinate with respect to wine” By association it means sober, careful, circumspect, I Thess 5:6,8; II Tim 4:5 (Deaver, 12)
*One self-controlled, using moderation so as to blend the faculties to the highest degree. Ability to deny self.
Not given to wine (no brawler) Does he drink alcoholic beverages?
*The Greek word paroinos, literally means “by or beside wine”. A marginal note in the KJV says, “ready to quarrel, and offer wrong, as one in wine.” The ASV translates the word “no brawler”.
*Wine is generic determined based upon context. It can mean in the grape, freshly squeezed, or fermented.
*If drinking any amount of alcoholic beverages is wrong, why didn’t Paul say that elders should not drink wine at all?
*Elders cannot be brawlers b/c their examples would be tarnished and it is behavior that is contrary to the kingdom of our Lord.
*Elderships would be unable to meet and make decisions without brawling, quarrelling, being contentious, as if they had been drinking strong fermented drink.
*Is he soon angry (quick tempered)? (Titus 1:7)
8. Disciplined and character- Good testimony (report) from without (1 Tim. 3:7).
* One who has a good report from those which are without (not members of the church). Well respected by those outside the church. Well thought of by outsiders.
*“What kind of reputation does he have among the people with whom he lives and where he work?
*What do the people with whom he has done business think of him?
*What kind of reputation does he have among his own neighbors?
*What kind of estimate of the church will these people have when they learn he has been appointed to serve as one of the overseers of the flock
9.Influential and Loyal- Rule well own house (1 Timothy 3:4-5; Titus 1:6).
Well governed, able to manage own household well.
A. His children not accused of riot or unruly.
B. His children must be in subjection with all gravity.
C. His children must be faithful, believing.
D. His wife cannot be the "boss" but must be in subjection
E. The reason: "For if a man know not how to rule his own house,
how shall he take care of the church of God?"
F. To meet the qualifications, an elder MUST have children. If he
has none, there is no way of knowing whether he has the ability
to so govern and rule the congregation.
10.Courageous It takes a lot of courage to correct others. Convince ejlegcw el-eng’-kho; of uncertain affinity; to confute, admonish: — convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.
Elders and all members are important to the work of the church, evangelism, and achieving the goal of eternal life with our Father.
(This writing is based on: Here are the top 19 leadership qualities you should look for in a candidate.
Leadership from PreachersWednesday, November 04, 2020
Leadership from Preachers
by Mark McCrary
I wasn’t a good leader when I first started preaching. In fact, it is generous to even say I wasn’t good at leading. I didn’t lead. At all.
You see, I grew up hearing, “The preacher isn’t a pastor!” So naturally, when I started preaching the last thing I wanted to be seen as was a pastor. After all, that was one of the big problems in denominationalism, right? Biblically, formal church leadership is found in the form of elders (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). They shepherd and protect the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-4), while the preacher’s primary task is preaching the word (1 Tim. 4:2).
Looking back, there were numerous times when I wish I had asserted more needed leadership in the first two churches for which I preached. But, because I didn’t want to be viewed as a pastor, I wasn’t even a leader. To be honest, I probably was rarely even a suggester.
Then, something remarkable happened. I actually read the Bible. Specifically, Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. These books, written to preachers, are about leadership. A preacher’s leadership. I learned that while a preacher still isn’t a formal leader like a pastor (elder, shepherd, overseer), he is still an informal leader and should embrace that leadership role.
Take for instance Timothy. He was young and unsure of himself (2 Tim. 1:3-7). Yet, despite this, he was called to be brave (1 Tim. 1:18), see to the appointment of shepherds (1 Tim. 3:1-7), teach and command the things Christians need to hear (1 Tim. 4:6-8; 11), set a good example (1 Tim. 4:12; 6:11-16; 2 Tim. 1:15; 2 Tim. 2:22-25), use his “gift” (1 Tim. 4:14), manage people (1 Tim. 5:1-16) and church disputes (1 Tim. 5:17-6:2; 2 Tim. 2:14-19), and watch out for false teachers (1 Tim. 6:2-5).
Titus, too, was to lead by appointing shepherds (Tit. 1:5-8), silence false teachers and trouble-makers (1:10-14; 3:9-11), teach “sound doctrine” (2:1), set a good example (2:7-8), and remind people to be obedient to civil rulers (3:1-2). Paul summed up Titus’ work—the preacher’s work—with these words, “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (2:15).
Living right. Standing for truth. Confronting people dangerous to the flock. Teach. Set the right example. Deal with problems. These are all things leaders do. These are things preachers do.
Now, to be clear, when elders are present, preachers are to follow as well. But, they still are to show godly influence in the church through informal, yet necessary acts of leadership.
Leaders and FollowersThursday, October 29, 2020
Leaders and Followers
By Matt Hennecke
Many of you are aware I spent most of my secular career engaged in leadership development efforts in a number of organizations. In my experience organizations are preoccupied with leadership. Countless classes and courses and degrees are offered to develop better leaders, but often little is said about what makes good followers. Here’s the thing: all of us play the role of follower more than we play the role of leader. True believers are first and foremost followers of Christ. Jesus said, in John 10:24, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Secondly, many of us follow shepherds in our congregation. We follow mayors, governors, and other office holders. Wives follow husbands. Children follow parents. So, while following dominates our lives it doesn’t dominate our thinking.
What Makes a Good Follower?
One cannot define a good follower without considering how they are led. Leadership is crucial to good followership. In a congregation under the oversight of elders (or even in a family household) different followers need to be led differently. Think for a moment of Christians in a local congregation: Some are new, perhaps recent converts to Christ. Others are seasoned Christians who know their Bibles well. Some are “on fire” – enthusiastic and motivated. Others are demotivated and unenthusiastic. Given these variables we can create the following Follower Grid with a follower’s knowledge on the vertical axis, and his zeal on the horizontal axis.
With the Grid before us we can begin to identify five different types of followers and how they need to be led.
1. THE NEW FOLLOWER (Needs an Instructing Style of Leadership)
Consider for a moment a new Christian. He is likely someone who hardly knows his Bible but has learned enough to realize his only hope is in Christ. In your experience, how would you assess the zeal of a new Christian? High, right? But how would you assess his knowledge of the Word? Very likely it is low. In such a case, the appropriate leadership style is one of “Instructing.” A new Christian needs someone – be it an elder, evangelist, or a more seasoned Christian – to mentor and coach him. He needs instruction to grow in the faith. Note the zeal of those baptized on the day of Pentecost but also the instruction they needed from the Apostles (Acts 2:42). Or consider what Paul said of the Jews who had a “zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Rom. 10:2).
2. THE GROWING FOLLOWER: (Needs an Involving Style of Leadership)
As the new Christian begins to grow and his knowledge increases, it’s important to begin involving him more in kingdom work. It might be premature to “turn him loose” to teach a class, but he might be ready to co-teach a class with a more seasoned brother. It is during this time when the follower with the help of a leader can discover his “gifts” for kingdom service. If we push him too fast or hold him back too long, we may demotivate him. Sometimes growing Christians are asked to carry too big a load resulting in failure, or sometimes they stagnate because they’re not given the opportunity to grow in the faith and assume greater responsibilities. The Hebrew writer warned of this when he wrote, “let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity….” (Heb. 6:1).
3. THE MATURE FOLLOWER: (Needs a Sharing Style of Leadership)
Leaders who have knowledgeable and zealous followers can have confidence in giving them more responsibilities. Such Christians volunteer to teach classes, evangelize effectively in the community, and become mentors to less mature Christians. Such Christians are typically self-starters who take on tasks without them being assigned. They look for and initiate opportunities to serve and do so with great enthusiasm. In many ways, these Christians share in the leadership of a congregation – albeit informally. The worst thing a leader can do is “over control” these people lest they demotivate them. Leaders who lead by edict and don’t involve these followers in decision making are likely to alienate and demotivate them. These are the best kinds of followers, though they may sometimes question and challenge the thinking of their leaders. They do so, not because they are trying to undermine them, but because they are enthusiastic, Bible students who are serious about serving the Lord as He has directed through the Word. By way of example, consider the apostles, already zealous for the Lord and His commission, awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem and once filled with all knowledge became ambassadors of the Word – sharers in His work and glory (Acts 2; Rom.8:17).
4. THE DEMOTIVATED FOLLOWER: (Needs an Encouraging Style of Leadership)
Sadly, there are some followers who despite their deep Bible knowledge and understanding have lost their zeal. The leader’s role in such situations is to encourage and motivate the follower – to try to re-instill the zeal that has been lost. This can be accomplished positively by reminding them of their calling in Christ and all He has done for them. Or, it can be done negatively by warning them of the consequences of heartless service. God’s people in the Old Testament frequently fell into such heart-dead worship. Consider their attitude and the sacrifices they brought to God described in Malachi 1:13: “…my how tiresome it is….and you bring what was taken by robbery, and what is lame or sick….” They knew God demanded sacrifice, but their hearts weren’t in it. The same was the problem with Laodiceans who had grown lukewarm in their service (Rev. 3:14-22). Without attention, these followers will likely slip into the next category of follower.
5. THE LIFELESS FOLLOWER: (Needs a Telling Style of Leadership)
Worst of all are followers who have lost their zeal and are happy to remain ignorant of the Word of God – the very Message that has the power to motivate. Such followers’ hearts are hard, and they feel no need to study and learn from God’s Word. They may slip in and slip out of worship assemblies and are content to do no kingdom work. Such followers create a challenge for churches because their apathy can infect the rest of the flock. They need to be confronted with love and firmness. They need to be told repeatedly what Christ has done and the importance of growing in Christ. They need to be warned about the coming judgment. Their souls are in jeopardy and require special, persistent attention lest they be lost. Consider the warning given to the church in Sardis, “…you are dead. Wake up and strengthen the things that remain which are about to die….” (Rev. 3:1-2).
So, follower, how would you assess your zeal for God and your knowledge of His Word? Are your growing or stagnating? And leaders, what “style” do you use to lead? Do you find yourself telling more than involving or sharing leadership? For both followers and leaders, the perfect role model is Christ Jesus who was both follower (John 12:49-50) and leader (Colossians 1:18).