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South Shore Sermon Series: 2002

Need For Leadership

By Bernie Parsons May 17, 2002

South Shore church of Christ

The church needs strong leadership in these trying times. Abortionists are murdering innocent, unborn children by the millions. Homosexuals are demanding "marriage" rights, and their activists have pushed their agenda into not only the movies, and several television series, but also into our public school system. Extreme feminists keep pushing for a life separate and apart from men, teaching our young women that men are monsters, and can be done without. We need leadership in Christian families, and in the body of Christ, and in our communities.

Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."

We need vision for the future, people who can see how things are, and how they ought to be. Remember the scriptures we read the other night?

Proverbs 24:30 "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.

33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man."

If we neglect the body of Christ, or our families, they shall fall into wreck and ruin. We must provide salt and light to our communities. Leadership takes work. We cannot be content to drift like a rudderless ship, driven by the storms of change and trouble. If we do, it should be no surprise, then, when our family or the local congregation hits the rocks-or if we feel estranged in our own communities.

There is a framework for leadership in the family. God has placed man as head of the family.

1 Corinthians 11:3: "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."

Ephesians 5:23: "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."

We need to move away from this liberal idea that either man or woman can be head of the family, or that the two are co-heads. We Christians are not co-heads of the church, along with Christ. Christ has always been under the authority and leadership of God, His Father. We are under the authority and leadership of Jesus, and women are under the authority and leadership of men. It doesn’t make women second-class citizens, nor the property of men. It means that God has assigned different roles for men and women.

Men are to be leaders to their wives and to their children. In turn, women are to reverence their husbands and children are to respect and obey their parents.

Ephesians 5: 22: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23: For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24: Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25: Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26: That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28: So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29: For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31: For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32: This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33: Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

Let the wife reverence her husband, and let the husband love his wife. The root word for revere, from which reverence comes, means to fear, and the meaning of the word equates to something like: to hold in awe. I know that this sounds pretty strong for our modern, liberated society, but the meaning is correct, as reflected by the Apostle Peter in:

1 Peter 3:5: "For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

7: Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

We need women who will respect and honor their husbands, holding them in high regard. Reverence and lord are strong words, yet describe how women are to regard husbands. We also need husbands who will love and respect their wives, nourishing and cherishing them. Nourish means to nurse, or give sustenance to-that is to allow one to grow. Men are not to stifle their wives, or control them heavy-handedly. They are to give them growing room, and are to supply them with what it takes to grow. Cherish means to hold dear, and is derived from the same root word as charity. Men are to hold their wives dear, giving them respect and honor. This takes leadership-and it takes work.

Fathers are to teach their children. Children must obey their parents. God expects this.

Ephesians 6:4: "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

Colossians 3:18 "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

19: Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

20: Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

21: Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."

Fathers should teach the children how to acceptably serve God, as well as how to function in this world, when the children are young. They should also take a keen interest in their grandchildren, as did the righteous men of old.

Deuteronomy 4:7: "For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?

8: And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

9: Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;"

To bring up in the nurture of the Lord means the same as to nourish, or cause to grow by giving sustenance, in the Lord. Admonition means a warning, so that while the father gives growing room to the child, he does not leave the child to his own devices, as many political liberals demand today, but rather warns the child in the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

In families and in the church we need good general leadership among men and women.

1 Corinthians14:34: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

Many of the denominations have disregarded this holy and spiritual instruction, and many of the churches of Christ have fallen in line by introducing Bible classes with women teachers and women speaking out in the assemblies.

Women have a vital and demanding role in the church, but that role is outside of the assemblies.

Titus 2:3: "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4: That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5: To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

The mature mothers and elderly women in the church are to teach the younger women. The world has sought to separate the younger from their elders, claiming an artificial generation gap. The truth is that the older women have gone through the same kinds of experiences that the younger will, and can offer sound, godly advice. It is God’s intention that the experience of the older generation be passed down to the younger, so that the younger won’t repeat the same mistakes. This collective learning is extremely valuable, as it accumulates and grows from generation to generation. The younger women and men need to respect the elder women and men, as the Apostle Paul told the younger Timothy:

1 Timothy 5:1: "Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

2: The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity."

We are family in the Lord, and as such, need to treat one another with great respect. Timothy was a preacher and teacher of the gospel of Christ, yet Paul instructed him to have respect for the elderly men and women, and to regard the younger men and women as his own brothers and sisters.

1 Peter 5:5: "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."

Not only are the younger to respect their elders, but all Christians have an obligation to respect one another. I am concerned that leadership in the church has broken down. When Peter wrote earlier in that same letter, he wrote this about the elders:

1 Peter 5:1: "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

2: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

3: Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."

The oversight, or leadership, of the elders is primarily by example. The role demands experience, patience, and an unflagging love for God’s people. It is not a role of lordship, of thinking too highly of oneself. The elder is likened to a shepherd tending sheep. He must be ready to protect them in time of danger, to feed them daily, and to heal them when they are injured. It is not a role to be taken lightly.

Philippians 3: 17: "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

18: (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

20: For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:"

1 Corinthians 11:1: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

2: Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

3: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."

In order to follow, people have to have leaders. What if Apostle Paul had not taken the lead in preaching the gospel throughout the Gentile world? He followed Jesus, then he instructed the people to follow him as he followed Christ. He even wrote Timothy, the younger preacher, advising him to be a good example to his listeners.

1 Timothy 4:12: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

13: Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."

Timothy was to provide leadership, not just in his teaching, but also through his godly example. As I said before, and as Apostle Peter said, it is a matter of leadership, not lordship. John mentions this in his third letter.

3 John 1:9: "I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

10: Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

11: Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God."

Diotrephes wanted to lord over the church, contrary to what is taught. He was like the failed leadership among the Jewish scribes and Pharisees.

Matthew 23:13: "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."

We often have modern Diotrephes-types in the church, who don’t understand that leadership is not about preeminence, because Jesus is to have the preeminence with all Christians. In fact that entire 23rd chapter of Matthew is an indictment and conviction of this wrong-headed thinking. Oh, those Jews read the scriptures, alright, but they didn’t follow them, prompting Jesus to say this about them:

Matthew 23:1: "Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

2: Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

3: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

4: For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

5: But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

6: And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

7: And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

8: But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

9: And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

10: Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

11: But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

12: And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

13: But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."

Jesus went on to enumerate many of their sinful shortcomings in Matthew 23. Folks, that is not leadership. We need good, dedicated men and women who set a godly example by living a humble, spiritual life before their families, the church, and the world. We need men and women who look to Jesus as their role model.

We need men in the church who have the backbone to stand up for what is right, regardless of the consequences. Those same men have to be gentle, loving, and humble in order to serve the people righteously before God.

1 Timothy 3:1: "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

2: A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3: Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4: One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5: (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

6: Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

7: Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

8: Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

9: Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

10: And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

11: Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

12: Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

13: For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."

Titus 1:4 "To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

5: For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

6: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

7: For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

8: But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9: Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

We need good, holy and humble people who will serve their families, the church, and the community in righteousness. I urge you all to resolve that from this night forward, you will be such leaders. Don’t leave the teaching of your children up to the public schools, because they don’t teach good morals and ethics anymore. Don’t let your family’s education be what they glean from the movies, television, games, the Internet, and their music.

Teach your children what the Lord Jesus has done for us, and what God expects of us. Don’t be afraid to set guidelines and invoke discipline when necessary. Be supportive of your family, and demonstrate your love for them everyday.

Teach the church well, and support the members in their efforts to live righteously. Let’s build each other up, and take the gospel to the world. Let’s serve our communities so that our Christian light may shine.

If you are not a Christian, you need to be. Eternal salvation is in the Lord Jesus, and nowhere else. Come believing in Him, repenting of your sinful ways, confess Him as Lord, and be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. We will stand with you as you grow into maturity in Christ Jesus. Won’t you come?

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