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God Prepares Leaders

(1 Timothy 1:1-4, 12-20)

Lesson 5 -- first quarter 2006
January 1, 2006

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2005

Probing Your Own Heart

How aware are you of your own neediness?

Do you turn to Jesus to have your needs met?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

Godly leaders recognize their own need.

Everyone must recognize their own need. Even leaders. Especially leaders. A godly leader looks at himself and sees tremendous need. The Apostle Paul spoke of himself as chief among sinners. He didn't say that merely because it sounded like a noble thing to say. Neither did he say it because suffered some sort of guilt or inferiority complex. He said it in recognition of this reality: As I stand before God, I see no greater sinner than I.

Another reality exists that can wash away a hopeless reality like that. Paul finally saw it clearly and accepted it fully. Until a leader comes to that same state of heart, he will wallow in the muck of his own need. Notice how our desperate need appears in the context of this wonderful (and greater) reality: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15).

Godly leaders accept God's mercy.

Because he saw (and didn't try to deny or hide) his own need, Paul eventually could accept Christ's provision for that need. Had Paul been too proud or "too good" to acknowledge his neediness, he could not have experienced God's mercy.

Every godly leader stands before his God and before himself that way. In accepting God's mercy he humbly acknowledges that spiritual life and success "is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Romans 9:16).

He also stands before his flock that way. In admitting his own need he declares his own reliance on God's forgiving mercy. And in proclaiming his acceptance of mercy he offers his own mercy. Like the Apostle James, he knows that "he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (James 2:13). The godly leader responds to the neediness of those in his flock as God responds to his own neediness. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).

Godly leaders depend on God's grace.

Because Paul acknowledged his need and accepted God's mercy, he became a recipient of God's grace. Rather than be a single or even an occasional event, this became his life. He grew ever more dependent on God's grace. Any godly leader is not different than that.

As Paul, so all godly leaders take for themselves these words of Jesus: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). They depend on God's grace because "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

Godly leaders thrive by God's peace.

Without God's peace, we all fail. Without God's peace, we cannot walk with God. Without God's peace, we cannot know God. God's peace is central. God's peace is foundational. Paul knew that. So do godly leaders in our day.

To be at peace with God isn't something so trite as "being on God's good side." To be at peace with God is to be one with Him! That doesn't come through clearly in our English term peace as it surely did in their Greek term eirene. In hearing that word they may well have naturally thought of eiro, which is a verb -- "to join." From that it seems rational to conclude that peace results from and is the condition of being joined.

Thus, godly leaders thrive by being joined with God.

Questions and Responses

I'm not a church leader, so what's in this for me?

Do you really think God offers something different to you?!

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