Characteristics of Godly Leaders: REPROACH

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What does it mean to be above reproach?  For the longest time, I thought that it meant that leaders were in an untouchable space.  To be a leader meant that you were not to be criticized at all.  I interpreted the wording akin to “above the law”.  People who think they are above the law do not believe they are held accountable for their actions and decisions.

Over the years, I have learned that I was not alone in that interpretation.  In fact, quite a few people understand it to mean the same.

Several years ago, I had an opportunity to take a college class on Christian leadership that broke down these requirements, in 1 Timothy 3, for the Office of the Overseer.  The way it was explained to me was that being above reproach was not suggesting that we as leaders were part of an untouchable group.  Instead, it meant that our behavior should be such that there would be no need for reproach.  In other words, that our integrity and reputation should hold weight against any accusations thrown our way.  So that, anyone who hears them would dismiss them immediately.

We all know that is impossible for even the best leaders to live perfectly, we are all human and humans make mistakes.  But when our character’s good attributes weigh so heavy, our mistakes are accepted as such versus a character flaw.

If you are a person who always keeps your promises, and you slip up and forget once… you are going to receive grace over that mistake because it is the exception and not the norm.

In an ideal world, being above reproach should be enough.  But not always.  The key here is that if you are accused by one person, the majority of people will disregard it because they know you to be a leader of integrity.  Part of that integrity is owning up to your mistakes before you need to be called out on them, and making them right before you are asked to.

If you have made an error that requires rebuke or correction, if you have behaved in a way that is met with disapproval, or speak in a manner that is disappointing… and you deal with it head on, accepting responsibility, correcting your course, or making amends; you are behaving in a manner that is above reproach.  Rarely are people disappointed and disapproving of a leader who admits when they are wrong, and moves forward in a spirit of reconciliation or correction.  In fact, it often adds to your character.

To be above reproach means that you take your role seriously, and you understand the gravity of the position you have been trusted with.  You lead with integrity and honesty.

 

Eat, Drink, and Remember.

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Women are inherently emotional creation, emotional in how we connect with others and respond to the situations we are in.  Men work on a different level, entirely.  It’s why you can meet for your women’s study group every week and wish you could meet more often; yet your husband might be content with meeting once a month to check in with the guys.  It is for this reason, emotional connection, the Women’s Ministry Council has a heart for building up a broad view of Women’s Ministry.

Brunches are great, as they fulfil our need to connect personally with others.  Yet, they often lack deep instruction.  Bible Studies are a great way to find instruction and wisdom.  Yet, they often have a changing of attendees that prevents real relationships from forming.  Small Groups, of set members who change study materials, may create a community;  but too often those community groups can close out new people who bring their own wisdom and value.

A Women’s Ministry that solely relies on monthly brunches is not going to a have a long term deep impact on the spiritual growth of women in their church.

A Women’s Ministry that solely relies on Bible Studies and Small Groups is not going to connect the women in corporate worship and instruction.

We must strike balance.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

~ Hebrews 10:23-25

The same can be said about how diverse our ministries are.  A Women’s Ministry that sits in the safety of the programs and offerings it has always provided is going to continue bringing like minded women.  However, it will be a near impossibility to diversify that ministry program to include a broader representation of your church or community.

During the last WMC meeting, one point that both Aimee Nelson and Jenny Andrews was made is our common identity.  Before all things we are Christian women, daughters of the King.  This is our common unity.

I can eat, drink, and remember how Christ changed my life… regardless of what food is on my plate or drink fills my cup.  I can do this at a table in a local café, or the home of a new friend.  To sit and break bread with a fellow believer sharing our testimonies with one another is a blessing beyond measure.  Regardless of our skin color or backgrounds, we love the same God.

It can be difficult to facilitate change in a ministry where many area already accustomed to certain events. We cannot facilitate change if we do things the same way we have always done.  Yet, if you change everything you may bring in new faces and your women already invested may leave, which doesn’t help bring people together either.  Change is hard.   However we can begin to implement change in smaller measures.

What if…

What if I invited a worship singer from a local African American church to sing for the worship portion of our brunch?

What if I went to a local, family owned, ethnic restaurant and catered in dinner for our next guest speaker?

What if our next speaker was born in another country?

What if our next keynote speaker at our retreat was a woman rescued from sex trafficking?

What if our next Bible Study was written by an African American author or a woman from another country?

What if we began a series of events where we brought in women from various ethnic churches in our community to learn more about who they are, what their ministry goals are, and how we can help?

You don’t have to dismantle and rebuild a ministry to bring change via a total overhaul.  You can begin to take small steps, over time.

Eat, drink, and remember…

we are all precious in His sight.

Leadership Qualities

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When it comes to understanding our role as leaders, there are so many great books I could recommend.  But, let’s be cautious that we do not rely merely on the words of man to define what a Christian leaders should look/behave like.  What does God say?

When you are leading a group of people, from a pulpit or a seat on the ministry team; consider the following:

1 Timothy 3:1-7

  • It’s a noble task.   (Don’t take your position lightly.)
  • Be above reproach.
  • Spouse to one.
  • Sober minded.
  • Self Controlled.  (That’s a fruit of the Spirit.)
  • Respectable.
  • Hospitable.
  • Able to Teach.
  • Not a Drunkard.
  • Not violent, but gentle.  (Another fruit of the Spirit, gentleness.)
  • Not quarrelsome.
  • Not a lover of money.
  • Manage your household well.

Exodus 18:21

  • Able.
  • Fear God.
  • Trustworthy
  • Hate bribes.

Deuteronomy 1:13

  • Wise.
  • Understanding.
  • Experienced.

1 Timothy 3:8-13

  • Dignified.
  • Honest.
  • Not greedy.
  • Not addicted.
  • Blameless.
  • Faithful.  (Another fruit of the Spirit!)

As we come toward the last month of 2016, perhaps we should spend some time in the Word exploring these descriptions.  Ask the Lord to reveal areas you need to strength yourself in, make right any areas where you have slacked, ask for forgiveness where necessary.

We enter December with our hearts cast on the birth of Christ, who came to reconcile God’s people back unto Him.  A birth, life, and death foretold in the Old Testament that came to fruition in the New Testament.  Before Christ left to prepare His Father’s house for us, we were left with a charge.  Kingdom leaders that would go out and share the gospel, making disciples of the nations.  To lead in such a way, we must constantly be aware of our character, course correct when need be.

Head to the scriptures, do your own research on characteristics of Christian leaders.  Then test yourself.  Pray before you start, for open eyes, heart, and mind.  Pray through each verse you find, asking for the Spirit to convict your heart if this is an area you need to improve.  Pray at the end for the Lord to protect your role as leader, giving you wisdom… guidance…and discernment.