Monday, October 10, 2011

The Morning After: Authentic Leadership (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

What do you think the difference is between the leadership style of Steve Jobs and the Apostle Paul? That question kept coming to my mind as I studied the beginning of chapter two of 1 Thessalonians this past week. My conclusion is that they way Paul dealt with people was radically different from that of Steve. You see, in this passage of Scripture, we find Paul defending his ministry against certain accusations that are being cast at him. Not many leaders I know, specifically church leaders, ever want to be in the position where they need to defend themselves. But the tact that Paul took in doing it was to call upon the memory of the people in the church.

Six times in this passage, Paul is going to say something like, "as you know" (vs. 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11). He does this because he wants them to remember that he lived a certain way before them during his short time he stayed with them. He was entrusting his life and character to them, but also to God. Three times he refers to God as being the ultimate judge of his heart and motives (vs. 4, 5, 10). What we gather from this is that no matter what happened when Paul planted that church, his character mattered more. The way they lived before these people meant so much more to him than the success of a large church.

So, what does it mean to have authentic leaders? First, let me share my main thought from the message yesterday. We will never be an authentic ministry if we do not follow authentic leaders. That statement, obviously, has two parts to it. First, churches need to have authentic leaders. Second, when they are present, people need to follow them. Both of those parts are equally important. In vs. 1-12, Paul gives us Five Evidences Of An Authentic Leader We Should Follow.

1. Authentic Leaders Are Bold (vs. 1-2)
The suffering they went through in Philippi did not make them change either their message or their method. Nobody wants to follow someone who is going to change their views or beliefs based upon the pressure of the crowd. Real Christian leaders do not change their theological convictions because it means more money in their pocket or a larger church on their resume.

2. Authentic Leaders Are Humble (vs. 3-6)
Paul says they did not preach a message from error, impurity, or deceit. They were not there to trick or scam them. They were not using flattering speech, they did not come with a heart of greed, and they did not come seeking glory for themselves. They were fully 100% there to serve the people of Thessalonica with the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

3. Authentic Leaders Are Caring (vs. 7-8)
They cared for them so deeply that he uses the illustration of a nursing mother caring for her little child. That is how he felt about them. The only way this happens in our lives is when we live life with each other. We are there to weep with each other. We are there to rejoice with each other. We open our home and they see us at our best and worst. We create time in our schedule so we can minister to each other. We act as a friend should act, giving up our preferences for them.

4. Authentic Leaders Are Hard-Working (vs. 9-10)
Paul and his gang worked so hard to the point of exhaustion because they did not want the people to associate the message of the gospel with money. If the common joke about pastors or church leaders working only a couple hours a day or one day a week is true, there is something wrong. There is no room for laziness in pastoral ministry. If anything, they should border on exhausting themselves for the work of ministry.

5. Authentic Leaders Are Visionaries (vs. 11-12)
The goal the Apostle had for them was that they would walk in a manner worthy of God. To get them there, he had to guide and instruct them, as a father does his children.

There will never be an authentic ministry if people do not follow authentic leaders. So, the person who is reading this has three options. They can walk away from their church and not follow. They might think there are no authentic leaders and they can run to a place where they find one. Although, one caution should be that they need to remember there are no perfect people. Another option is to walk away and follow their leaders. This would be great! A third option is to walk away and seek to become that sort of leader.

What are you going to do? If you want to listen to the full message, you can find it HERE!

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