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Principles of Effective Christian Leadership

August 14, 2010

by Rev. Bruce Goettsche

Colossians 1:24-29

I was eager to read the book Iaccoca by Lee Iacocca, the former Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation. I was fascinated by the way this man took a company from virtual bankruptcy to success. I wanted to learn how he someone could do what he did. Last year I eagerly read The Road Ahead by Bill Gates of Microsoft. He has his finger on the pulse of technology and I wanted to hear what he had to say. We often buy books by politicans, athletes, Scientists and Doctors because we want to learn the lessons that made them successful.

In the text before us the Apostle Paul reveals his principles of effective Christian Leadership. They are principles that govern his life. But these are principles not just for the Pastor, teacher or Board Member . . . they are principles valuable to every Christian because they point us to true discipleship. These are not the same principles you will find in contemporary books on management. These are uniquely Christian principles.

Effective Christian Leaders Are Willing to Pay the Price

Paul begins “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of the church.” (1:24). Paul rejoices in what “was suffered for you.” What is he referring to here? Look at the preceding verses and you realize that Paul is referring to the sacrifice of Christ for our sin. Paul is grateful for Christ’s work in their life.

But there is more to this statement. He also says “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of the church.” He began by talking about Christ’s afflictions, now he is talking about his own. The phrase “what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions” is awkward. It’s not that Christ’s death on the cross was lacking anything. Paul realizes that the suffering he is experiencing is really directed at Christ and in that sense is still Christ’s affliction. Paul says there is a price to pay to lead…

These statements should not surprise us. Jesus warned us. He said, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” [John 15:20].

Paul goes into some detail about his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11,

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

Notice that Paul identifies several sources of suffering. There is overwhelming physical suffering. He was attacked, beaten and left for dead. All this because of his proclamation of the gospel. This may not happen to churchgoers in our country very often but it is happening in other countries. The world is becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian message. And as we have seen, people are resorting to violence to address their grievances more and more.

Paul tells us that he is also threatened by the Gentiles. In other words, he faces the subtle antagonism of non-believers.. Here is something we should be able to relate to. Every time we take a stand for Christ, we become a target. If you take a leadership position, you become a bigger target. This is often much more subtle and subversive. People will exclude you, ridicule you, criticize you behind your back. Just recently we saw the criticism leveled at Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers for holding to what the Bible said about various moral behaviors.

Third, he faces suffering from false brothers. These are Devastating attacks from within the church. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Caesar is killed by a group of assailants. A famous line is “et tu, Brutè?” Caesar was stunned that one he thought was a friend would turn on him. Anyone who has served in the church for any length of time understands this feeling. Some of the most painful blows come from these “false brothers” the ones we thought were our friends. It would be nice if everyone in the church applied God’s commands to love, kindness and encouragement. It would be nice, but it is not the way it is.

Paul identifies one other source of suffering: “I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” One of the most painful aspects of Christian leadership is the heartbreak of sharing people’s pain. It’s tough to listen to the heartache that goes on in so many lives. It’s devastating to see someone who is acting out of rebellion to the Lord. It hurts every time I stand at a casket as a family says their final goodbyes. The closer I am to the family. The more it hurts.

There is a price to be paid to be an effective leader. There is a price for taking a stand for Christ. You need to know and prepare for this cost before you begin.

Rev. Bruce Goettsche (last name pronounced “get-she”) began his ministry in La Harpe in February of 1982. He is a graduate of Trinity University in Deerfield, IL where he received his B.A. in Biblical Studies; Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, from which he received both a Master of Arts in Christian Education, and also a Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained in 1980.
One Comment leave one →
  1. Monica Miranda permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:53 pm

    Hey pastor I miss you and I still got my fire and still keep in contact wit lots of ppl lol and ur right headin back home was the beginning of my journey and it was hard but wit ur preaching and teaching and all the guess speakers it really helped and planted a big seed in my heart and mind and I’m so strong and man all my old friends must have been sippin on hater aid cuz they be hating so much but I saved 4 of my friends :) and tryna start up my own club tryna make a name for it like youth connection or something you no but I’m glad I went to Hssi 2010 can’t wait to go to the west coast utc cuz like they say “WEST COAST IS THE BEST COAST” lol can’t wait for 2012 cuz that’s wen you’ll see me and I wanna do a year but like pastor sunny jr said at youth convention ” if it’s Gods will it’s Gods bill” so all I do is stay prayed up and feed me wit the word thanks pastor

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