(Part 2 of 3)
Leaders approve themselves by how they handle difficult situations. Paul wrote about his performance when he was in up to his neck in troubles. He listed a second set of nine. These nine things tell how he responded to difficult situations. These are the things that bring God’s approval and the kind of actions those whom you lead like to see.
a) By pureness… Cleanness from defilement, not contaminated, clean conscience, integrity, and honesty (Proverbs 21:21, 22:11).
b) By knowledge… To understand completely, acquire extra knowledge, deep investigation, search things out, the spirit of revelation, and to know the truth before you skillfully give it out.
c) By long-suffering… Long-spirited, patience, no short fuse, self-restraint, no excessive anger, the spirit of meekness.
d) By kindness… Goodness of heart, gentleness, a spirit of usefulness, mild in temperament, gracious in spirit, not sour in spirit, not having harshness.
e) By the Holy Spirit… The Spirit is a holy (sacred) Spirit. The Spirit changed Paul and helped him perform better. Many of his words and deeds were Holy Spirit inspired. The Spirit counseled Paul. People must see the actions of the Holy Spirit in us. Sometimes the people see another spirit at work.
f) By love unfeigned… Love must motivate every leader. Sincerity, without hypocrisy, a genuine love for those you lead, loyalty, willingness to forgive.
g) By the word of truth… Not lies. Have instead the logos and rhema, having the message from God for needed occasions, unadulterated truth, established principles of truth. Purge out unclean lies from your mind (Mark 16:15-20).
h) By the power of God (dunamis)… Standing in God’s power and not in man’s wisdom, being anointed with power to convict and convince and move the people, letting your message hit home with power, and exchanging your strength for God’s strength.
i) By the armour of righteousness… Righteousness is a weapon. There is no force that can defeat righteousness. It helps you to stand and not flee, and keeps you from running and hiding from problems. Righteousness is a weapon to give the devil trouble.
These are the nine things that determine your approval. You will not get through the first set of nine by neglecting the second set of nine.
There is yet another set of nine for the approval rating that people give you; i.e., how people react to you. The third set of nine shows good and bad things people will say about how you handled the “shaping” process. Remember, leaders don’t grow in comfort zones. Paul is bringing out both sides of the picture. It doesn’t matter how good your character has become. Everyone will not speak well of you. Nothing hurts worse than getting an evil report when you did your best to overcome the first nine. Sorrow will fill your heart, but God will give the oil of gladness. Some days you feel like a statue, honored for your victory, and others you feel like you’re in the stocks. Remember also that what people say will bring balance. Learn to look at both sides of the picture.
a) By honor and dishonor… Remember, we live on earth. In the world, we have to face life. Some folks will dishonor you for taking God’s way and following the Bible’s guidelines because they hate God’s ways. Others will honor you, esteem you, and give you a good report. They will follow you because they saw you succeed in your afflictions (Acts 5:33-41). Keep in mind that many people spend half their time crying for leaders and the other half nailing them to the wall.
b) By evil report and good report… Both of these things happen to leaders. One will like you and say good things and the other has nothing good to say about you. It happens; expect it, and don’t let it eat at you. Can you handle an evil report about yourself and the lies and rumors that go with it? Do you take revenge and retaliate by slander, or do you take it to the Lord in prayer? When you take it to the Lord in prayer, He may say, “Welcome to the club” (Matthew 5:43-48). Matthew 5:11-12 says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (NIV).
c) As deceivers and yet true… some folks cast you down as crooked: “All leaders are crooks you know.” A deceiver is one who leads people astray. They said similar things about Jesus: “winebibber” and “casts out devils by Beelzebub” (see Luke 7:34, Matthew 12:24), for starters. There are those who will follow you because you know how to help people.
d) As unknown and well-known… The idea is that some will reject you and treat you as if they never knew you. If you serve Jesus faithfully, He will make your name known. Some people recognize you and others won’t. Do not worry about it. Remember Peter–he stood at the fire at the time of Jesus’ trial and denied knowing Jesus. There are some Christians who are good at not recognizing you. It’s part of the “shaping” process.
e) As dying, and behold, we live (2 Corinthians 6:9, KJV)… The New Testament’s emphasis is on living and not dying. It’s funny that there are always those who say, “Your leadership is alive and thriving,” while others will say that your leadership is dying because you do not (even if you do) see the anointing. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:8-18, talks about how leaders are always delivered unto death. Satan’s aim is to kill the leader’s ministry, but the power of the resurrection makes you alive.
(To be continued…)
Pastor George Belobaba
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