Summary: Leadership, Humility, Teachability, Courage
FOLLOW THE LEADER – Pleasing God Instead of Men
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (pg. 824) August 9, 2015
Opposition can come in many forms...It can be an outright attack, violent and physical...and it can also come more subtly...through conversations that gather support from someone who disagrees with you or your purposes. Neither are fun! And both are hard to deal with...especially for the Christ follower who is trying to guard their witness, accomplish their mission, and “be at peace with all people as much as they are able.” (Romans 12:18)
But what happens when as a leader you can’t be at peace with everyone? What happens when you are firmly convinced that for the “good news” of Jesus to be presented effectively and for the health of the body of Christ you must deal with opposition?
Paul gives an answer in our text.
“The appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you...On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people, but God; who tests our hearts.”
(1 Thess. 2:3-4)
How can you know if someone is approved by God and entrusted with the gospel? How can you be sure the leader who says follow me as I follow Jesus is worth following?
There is a test for all of us...and especially for those who would dare to lead.
I. GOD TESTS OUR HEARTS
[In 1994 I weighed 185 pounds...I’m 6 feet tall...I was playing ball several times a week. Had done 3 or 4 hundred miles hiking on the Appalachian Trail...walked when I played golf...for being 34 years old I appeared to be in pretty good shape...and I felt pretty good...but appearances can be deceiving huh?
Because on a sunny beautiful day, Friday my day off, I was playing golf at Bob-O-Link, just across the road from our house...I began to feel some pressure in my chest, and my left arm and neck started to go numb...I ignored it at first...after all I’m 34, in pretty good shape, and do a lot of physical stuff...But on the 4th hole I had a frightening realization...I’m having a heart attack...I called Kari...we went to St. Joe hospital where Dr. Joe Richardson did a stress test...which I failed...He kept me there for a heart catheterization in the morning, but before they could do it...at 4 am I had a myocardial infarction ( heart attack). They kept asking me about my pain level...from 1 to 10...Being burned was a 10 so I said 8 or so...They gave me morphine....Asked again...6 or 7...they gave me heparin an more morphine...How is it now 3 or 4...more heparin...more heparin...more morphine...How’s it now...“Uhhhh...what pain?” LOL
A heart catheterization done immediately revealed 100% blockage in one of my arteries which was treated with angioplasty surgery...a balloon inserted in my femoral artery and expanded to deal with the blockage.
Without this test the true condition of my heart would never have been revealed or fixed.]
The Apostle Paul says God has a test to reveal the true spiritual condition of our hearts...regardless of how they might appear by outside evaluations...
The test of our hearts, especially there in leadership involves internal probing as well...Does your heart’s message spring from error, impure motives, are you trying to trick people....and maybe the most revealing...“Are you trying to please God...or people?”
How can we know the motives of somene’s heart? God will test it...He’ll put our hearts under the microscope of a spiritual catheterization and reveal what flows from it...or sin that blocks it...He’ll reveal over time whether your message promotes His agenda or yours...whether your mission is to please others or please Him.
The first blockage His test reveals to effective leadership is...
1. We tell people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear...Why? Verse 6 tells us “We’re looking for praise from people.” Flattery is different than encouragement. Encouragement recognizes and lifts up the value of someone else...it’s positive and never uses comparisons with someone else or the negatives of another to make someone feel better...it’s something we are encouraged to do. “All the more daily as we see the Lord’s return approaching.” (Heb. 3:13, 10:25)
Flattery has another goal that’s much more selfish...you tell something to someone that you believe will make them like you...Your motive is to “butter them up” so you can get them on your side...or they’ll give you what you want.
When you lead people the temptation always exists to let their opinions be your guide instead of God’s Word. Opinions are where error and impure motives can be cultivated like germs in a Petri dish. God’s Word, scripture on the other hand...is God breathed...profitable...His commandments are sure...It’s rock solid in its truth.