Monday, June 23, 2008

Leadership 101 - Keeper of the Truth

An interesting aspect about 1 Timothy is that Paul doesn't start by telling Timothy what the qualifications of a good leader are and how a leader is supposed to act (he does this later), but he begins by telling Timothy "As I urged you...command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer..." Why does Paul begin his letter like this?

I believe Paul begins his letter to Timothy with this command because Timothy is a leader. Yes, he is still undergoing training, but he is in a position of leadership and a leader needs to take action when the situation demands.

For the Christian leader there is always the situation of keeping the truth true. We are created to become like Jesus. I believe that our number one priority in becoming more like Jesus is to love others. As a leader, my love motivates me to speak the truth. Why? "Because the truth will set you free."

Without truth being a priority in the Christian leaders life he cannot lead people to Christ or lead them in developing a relationship with Christ. If truth is a priority for the Christian leader then he better make sure he knows it. Where is this truth found? Scripture.

Paul writes to Timothy in his second letter "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Scripture is the basis for the Christian life. It is the truth that every Christian should live by.

There is an interesting leadership principle found in this passage when dealing with truth. Every situation of wrong calls for one of four responses: teaching, rebuking, correcting or training. Each response demands a different approach. Each approach is done out of love.

Before we respond we must identify the problem so we know how to respond.

First, is the problem a problem of not knowing? The proper response is teaching.

Is the problem a problem of misunderstanding? Sometimes people think they are doing what is right only to discover they misunderstood. The proper response is correcting.

Is the problem a problem of knowing better? The proper response is rebuke.

A way to curtail lack of knowledge and misunderstanding is training. This is when we reveal the truth before something happens.

We have to remember that each of these responses demands an approach that contains a proportionate amount of grace. For the person who doesn't know better a large measure of grace and forgiveness is needed. For the person who misunderstands a measure of grace and forgiveness is needed. For the person who knows better there continues to be a need for grace and definitely forgiveness, but I would say that grace diminishes with each repeated offense.

Paul confronted Peter out of love with not much grace. Peter began separating himself from the Gentile Christians during meal time. When Paul arrived and saw this he confronted Peter because Peter was a leader and knew what the right thing to do was.

Again, in order to be a good Christian leader and be able to teach, rebuke, correct and train we MUST know the truth. The only way to really know the truth is to study the source. Christian leaders MUST, MUST be in the Word every day seeking understanding from God!

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