Learning what it means to be a leader who models the way of Jesus is a life-long process. The main characteristics I see in leaders of integrity are:
* First and foremost, they understand the magnitude of the gift Jesus made possible for our Heavenly Father to send to enable them to live the Christian life. He sent the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to indwell our spirit to be our counsellor, comforter, and teacher. He produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and provides the gifts of the Spirit for ministry. We do not grieve Him or quench His work in our lives. We obey Him and let Him guide our every step.
* They are in the Scriptures daily searching for the many prophecies of Jesus’ second coming so they are prepared for what is coming next. Jesus said, “See I have told you beforehand” Matthew 24:25
* They are building a Kingdom, not an empire so give as the Holy Spirit leads.
*They train up disciples knowing that God has given us all different talents and has different tasks for us to complete. Remember the parable of the talents some got three, some got five but those that are obedient get the same reward.
* They see the talents that each one has and encourage them and develop them wherever possible.
* They share opportunities, stages, and platforms.
* They are quick to know and own their failures. They repent daily.
* They are bold and confident in Christ, the only hero.
* They are expectant for the future.
We live knowing that Jesus is returning soon to rule and reign with us (glorified Saints) on this earth. See http://www.millennialkingdom.net. We need to prepare for His return knowing the “end times” prophecies that tell us of escalating tribulation and apostasy.
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” Matthew 24:21-22
“You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labours at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.” 1 Corinthians 16:15-18
Note Stephanas and his household ‘devoted themselves’ (the word speaks of a dedicated and disciplined lifestyle) to serving others. As these folk began to meet the needs of their fellow-Christians, people began to recognise in them the marks of true Christian leadership. Paul felt able to urge the Corinthians to ‘be subject’ [‘submit’] to such people, ie to respect their leadership gifts. This insight challenges our notions, but particularly our practice, of leadership. We tend to give leadership to those who have received one particular kind of education, who have a measure of articulacy and general ability to think and speak on their feet, who measure up to worldly criteria of leadership. Do we ever take with proper seriousness the perspective Paul provides on leadership as SERVICE?
Jesus taught the same truth: ‘Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.’ (Matthew 20:26). This indicates that the authentic, solid leadership of a local church will come from people who give themselves to SERVING the saints. Such leadership does not depend on education, qualifications, degrees, or natural charisma. It comes from the grace of God equipping his people with gifts which enable them to be SERVANTS OF OTHERS in the fellowship of believers.
“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” Luke 17:10
The point of Jesus’ parable of the servant coming in from the field (Luke 17:7-10) is quite sobering. In it, the Lord of Creation, the Son of Man who will one day come in all his glory to reveal his Kingdom (Luke 17:20-37), is reminding us just who we are: Servants of God. This is not an easy truth for us to come to grips with. We were made in the image and likeness of God, but we are not God; and in the end we will all be accountable to the One who is God for the way we have served Him.
How many in His church today, truly see themselves as servants of God and worse lack gratitude for all that He does for them.
Christianity initially grew because of the suffering service of its adherents. It had no political power for several centuries yet it continued to gain followers. However, once it hitched its wagon to the Constantine cart it went off the rails because power found in weakness doesn’t gel well with a government that wants to flex its muscle.
We need to be very careful when we try to use worldly power to promote a Gospel that is inherently about power in weakness. When we take Christianity into the halls of power we are in essence asking Jesus to leave His embarrassing life of suffering service behind and become the poster boy for a political cause. God has always worked through that which the world considered foolishness, yet we seem intent on making Him worldly- wise. We need to take Paul’s exhortation in the second chapter of Philippians seriously because it constitutes the rule of law for the Kingdom of God.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2: 5-8)
We cannot forget that we are citizens of another Kingdom where we render unto God what is God’s and obey God rather than men. We have been saved by a God who did not wield a hammer but yielded to the nails. Maybe we can let more of God’s Kingdom peek through if we practice a bit more yielding and a bit less wielding.
THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF JESUS
The coming Millennial reign of Jesus on this earth is when we will see His Kingdom truly come to earth. Biblical prophecy reveals Jesus will reign with the resurrected saints from a restored Jerusalem, with a rod of iron, for one thousand years. God has unfinished business with Israel, the nation He established to be an example to the other nations of His Kingdom on earth. It is a transitional period before the second resurrection of unbelievers followed by the White Throne Judgement and finally a new heaven and a new earth when Jesus hands authority back to our Heavenly Father. We are told that during Jesus thousand-year reign Satan is bound unable to deceive those born during this time. Sadly, we are also told that when Satan is released at the end of the thousand years, he is still able to convince thousands if not more to join him in rebellion against Jesus and His Kingdom.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years are ended. After that, he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:1-6
Wickedness of the heart of man
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Genesis 6:5-6
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:1-3
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 7:9-10