Why Leaders Fail

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in The Gospel and the Ministry

Recently I had a discussion with some friends about some public leadership fails in the news. I could name them, but you likely already know who they are. Our conversation turned to a general topic of leadership and things we’ve observed. What struck us was how these things evolve from little, seemingly insignificant decisions that form the culture out of which unhealthy leadership grows. In other words, nobody wakes up one day and says to himself, “I’m going to strive to be an authoritarian leader who wreaks havoc on the people I serve.” It just doesn’t happen that way. Leaders start with good intentions. They start as “normal” people. So how do leaders fail? I think there are five basic mistakes leaders make:

1) Leaders Fail to Build Healthy Accountability Structures for Themselves Early On

So nobody wakes up one day and says, “I’d like to be a jerk who doesn’t listen to anyone.” Instead, it begins slowly, early on, when leaders fail to intentionally build honest voices into their lives. By “honest voices” I mean friends, mentors, family who are given permission to tell us when we are out of line. We always think this needs to happen when we “make it big” but that’s a mistake. We should do this when nobody knows who we are. And it begins by receiving healthy criticism from people we love instead of adopting a “haters gonna hate” mentality. It’s important to do this early on because once we “make it big” (whatever that means), we’ll be less resistant to criticism. Leaders who surround themselves with sycophants who fawn at their every move–this builds the culture that breeds authoritarian leadership. So, it’s important for us to have one or two people in our organizations, in our circle of friends, in our families who can tell us, at times, “Dude, you were a jerk to that person” or “Hey, I don’t think this is a good move.” David had Nathan. Who is your Nathan? I think we should not only do this intentionally, but organizations should be structured with this kind of accountability. This is why ecclesiology (church governance and structure) matters. This is why organizational structure matters. The “I’m a CEO/King and nobody tells me what to do” model breeds leaders who fail.

2) Leaders Fail to Move Beyond Personal Grudges and Hurts 

I’m a fan of reading biographies, particularly biographies of political leaders. These are the books I bring to the beach (I know, it’s pathetic). In my reading across a wide variety of leaders, I’ve found a singular trait that characterizes leaders who could best be described as “tyrants.” This is the inability to forgive. Look closely at dictators who have ravaged countries and continents. Almost every one of them was operating off a hurt early in their lives that they never got over. I’ve seen this with presidents, CEOS, and pastors. If part of the motivation for assuming leadership is the opportunity to “prove everyone wrong” or “strike back at those who hurt me”, this is a recipe for an authoritarian leader. Leaders who forgive are leaders are able to use their past as a catalyst for serving others and helping them through their hurt and pain. I think of Joseph, who rose to leadership in Egypt and instead of using his power to get vengeance on his betraying brothers, left justice in the hands of God and instead offered forgiveness (Genesis 50:20).

3) Leaders Stop Serving the Mission and Start Serving Themselves

This one is closely related to the first point. Unhealthy leaders begins when organizations allow or foster a kind of “leadership bubble” where the goals of the organization are simply to advance to the leader’s personal interests. This can get complicated, because a good leader will have a reputation and a brand, so to speak, that will bring attention and honor to the organization he serves. But good leaders build a deep and wide organization and are unafraid to let others in the organization get attention if need be. Unhealthy leaders constantly monitor what is being said about them and wake up every day worried more about themselves than about serving the organizations they’ve been entrusted with. Good leaders are humble, confident, winsome in their approach. And they are motivated not by building their own platform but by serving those God has called them to serve.

4) Leaders Stop Growing and Listening

Most people think this is a function of age, that older leaders stop thinking they need to grow and change and learn. But I have not found this to be true. I’ve met young leaders who think they are the experts in everything and I’ve met older leaders who surprise me by their desire to grow. This is more of an ego/pride thing. Success is a difficult thing to handle, more so than failure. And without the patient work of the Holy Spirit sanctifying us we all tend to drift toward lethargy and pride. Good leaders constantly seek out new opportunities, new relationships, new coalitions that will help them grow as a leader and as a person. Bad leaders refuse to listen, grow jealous of other’s expertise, and guard their reputation so strongly that they can’t ever admit they don’t know everything. I’m reminded of the maxim in Scripture that God “resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

5) Leaders Think That “This Couldn’t Happen to Me.” 

What strikes me most in our conversations about failed leadership is that almost none of us think it could happen to us. I think this is dangerous. It’s very possible that someone tweeting/blogging/talking about some famous and terrible leadership crisis today could be the subject of a similar crisis in five years. The more we cringe and feign disgust at the examples we keep reading about, the more likely it is that we’ll repeat the same mistakes. This is because the instinct that says, “How could this guy do this to his church. I would never do that” is the very instinct that leads to our downfall. We should all treat others’ mistakes like Paul treated the failures of Israel in the Old Testament. We should “take heed, lest we fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). I’m amazed at the pride we all have when someone falls and falls big, at the celebration of their demise and the virtual chest-beating we do on social media. This shows that we’re just as susceptible to making the same mistakes. Instead, like Paul, we should treat every sad story of leadership failure as a cautionary tale.

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And “That Guy” Enters Your Life

Posted by on Sep 12, 2014 in The Gospel and the Ministry


“That Guy” is such a popular phrase these days and it’s a term many of us have used — mostly in the context of not wanting to be “That Guy.” What do I mean by “That Guy”? Who is “That Guy”? For the sake of this article I sum him up in four fitting words: Male Hermione Granger Syndrome — the confounded know it all student in the Gryffindor House of the now classic young reader series, Harry Potter. If you wish, you may shorten this summation to MHGS, which should not be confused with any food allergies or other debilitating life circumstance.

Wanna learn more about identifying “That Guy”? He will have a special presence in three places. Here are those places and how “That Guy” will function in those places.

In Your Church

Here’s what “That Guy” looks like in your church.

When he comes for the first Sunday, he will immediately introduce himself to you, the pastor, after your service. He will kindly push back on a few matters from your sermon which need clarifying. He will likely grill you on a few areas of doctrine, particularly the doctrines of grace. He will then set up a meeting with you, which is really going to be a string of meetings that you will have over time.

He will be an avid participant in any learning environment, especially one where he may eventually have the opportunity to lead or teach at some capacity. He will bust out with all the theological lingo he can muster and, at this time, will use make trendy references to such men as Eric Metaxas, Deitrich Boenhoeffer, C S Lewis, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, and Karl Barth. He ought to get bonus points for mentioning them all! If he’s Southern Baptist he will likely name drop Al Mohler or Gregory Thornbury, but only the later if “That Guy” happens to be a hipster. If he’s Presbyterian then his go to will be Timothy Keller, quickly followed by Miroslav Volf, because that’s who Keller quotes.

Occasionally he’ll dominate conversations or discussion to the point where the discussion will be nothing like the direction it was originally intended to go. That’s okay because usually these discussions are lively. They stir many emotions in the participants. People will be more passionate about matters which waned in their life before. This is a very good thing and a benefit of “That Guy.” He will typically have extensive knowledge on almost every area of study and in whatever area of study he lacks he deftly avoids the subject or diverts the conversation back to an area of his mastery. All of it is a ploy to spread the propaganda that he is “That Guy” who knows stuff.

On Social Media

Now “That Guy” is not always a social media phenom. But sometimes he is. And boy oh boy will he shine on social media. He’s “That Guy” that walks into every twitter conversation and does one of two things: tweet blast the conversation with his line of reasoning or “I’ve got a link about that…”, which is always good for a few extra views on the old blog. Typically he’ll have a book recommendation on just about every subject. He’s not just the “ideas man” but he’s the “answer man.” He’ll have an answer or a thought on every conversation and he won’t help but give that answer.

At the Conference

But you won’t just find “That Guy” in your church or on social media, he’ll show up at conferences too. He’s “That Guy” in the crowd of “Those Guys” all waiting to meet “That Speaker” after he speaks to tell him the mind blowing revelation contrived while listening to that speaker. It’s a cocktail of that-ness.

Between sessions, on the sidewalks, or in dining room booths throughout the conference he is “That Guy” that is excitedly gesturing and talking about a mightily disputed doctrine as if he has the resolution for world peace in his hands. He’s basically the N T Wright who is astounded that no one in the world has ever recognized the glaringly obvious discovery that he has just made.

Why Am I A “That Guy” Expert

Good question. I’m glad you asked. I have an answer for you.

Yep. I’m not sure whether to identify myself as a recovering “That Guy”, an adjusted “That Guy”, or just a tired “That Guy”. But I’m probably one or all of those three. Either way I have had my fare share of the MHGS. And boy did I have a bad case.

I mourn so much about the angst I carried around as a “That Guy” in my early twenties. I’m not even quite sure when I adjusted. Honestly, I’m sure of moments when I’ve relapsed. Often times, now in my early thirties, I find myself recoiling when I see “That Guy” trolling around. Why? Well, when you put one “That Guy” in a room with another “That Guy” you either have a sweet symphony or WWIII. It all depends on if you can get the two to agree. And even the most adjusted “That Guy” has the tendency to relapse when he gets too near another. The syndrome is a contagion.

How To Respond To “That Guy”

No doubt “That Guy” is either seminary bound, in seminary, or just leaving seminary. And if you happen to be the pastor, you will want to take him home and train him. That’s right. There’s a part of you that will think, “Ahh, that guy’s cute!” And I mean that in the amused puppy sort of way. You, the pastor, will grow immediately fond of “That Guy.” Why? Because he is a guy just after your own heart. You recall when you had that same level of intensity. You’ll find it a little refreshing, because, after all, it has been some time since you had that kind of intensity around you.

Or maybe you happen to be the lucky lady destined to receive “That Guy’s” affection. O, how I pray for you. I pray that you are sweet, gentle, kind, and a somewhat sassy gal, because “That Guy” needs to be sassed.

Or finally, you’re just a normal old person wandering the wide world and you’ve encountered the not so rare “That Guy” in the wild.

If you’re any of those three, then listen up to some real brief tips.

1. Encourage “That Guy”. What he really longs for is affirmation. Give it to him.

2. Appreciate “That Guy”. He’s offering you all his answers because he sincerely wants to help and contribute. Look for ways to be grateful.

3. Empower “That Guy”. This is tricky. Too much power is bad for “That Guy”. But he needs to be utilized, or he’ll shrivel up and die. Give him a role and a place to serve and lead.

4. Listen to “That Guy”. We all want to be listened too. He more so than anyone. Lend him your ear and give him a hard stop time. He needs to know there are always boundaries.

5. Pray for “That Guy”. He’s likely to be a leader that will make vast contributions to the Church. Pray that the Lord will protect him from the hubris to which he gravitates. Pray that he will be protected from evil. Pray that he would do much to magnify God’s glory, not his own.

I hope you find this whimsical character sketch to be helpful. These tips, though brief, will go a long way in loving “That Guy”. And “That Guys” really needs your love; it’s likely he did not receive the healthy dose of it that he needed elsewhere.

This post was first posted at Joey’s blog and is posted here with his permission.

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The Best Way to Improve Your Preaching

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in The Gospel and the Ministry

Ready for it?

Be in love with Jesus.

I don’t mean “in love with Jesus” as some gushy sentimental sit-on-his-lap-and-rub-his beard “in love with Jesus”*. I mean a lively, gritty, rough, desperate, and vigorous “in love with Jesus”.

I’m talking about the type of love that leaves you simply in awe of who He is—that almost obsessive impulse that you had when you were dating your wife. But also that type of love that makes you angry. The kind where you are so dedicated to the person but at the same time so unbelievably confused by the things they are saying and doing. Your reaction isn’t to bolt, it’s to dig, to get to know, to understand, and to fall in love all over again.

Stale preaching comes from stale preachers. Yeah, I know that the Word has power and any dolt can be used by the Almighty. But I don’t just want the Lord to use my sermons as if I’m some non-personal instrument. I want the Lord to rock my own soul as He sees fit to use my feeble preaching.

I’m not being faithful to the living Word of God if it’s not living within my own soul and transforming my own life. Preaching isn’t merely a bare expositing of words and saying, “Here is what God says”. Preaching is expositing the words and saying “Here is what God says” AND having your life transformed by those very words.

Nursing Mothers

I don’t think I’m saying anything more than Richard Baxter did some 400 years ago:

When I let my heart grow cold, my preaching is cold; and when it is confused, my preaching is confused…We are the nurses of Christ’s little ones. If we forbear taking food ourselves, we shall famish them; it will soon be visible in their leanness…If we let our love decline, we are not like to raise up theirs. If we abate our holy care and fear, it will appear in our preaching…If we feed on unwholesome food, either errors or fruitless controversies, our hearers are like to fare the worst for it.

The picture is of a nursing mother. She cannot feed her infant if she is starving herself. Likewise, if she eats unwholesome food it will effect that health of the baby she is feeding. Pastors are the same way. If we are feasting on Christ then we’ll feed them with the soundness of our Lord. If we nibble on anything else, they will famish.

The best way to improve your preaching is to be in love with Jesus.

I’m indebted to Matt Chandler for that phrasing.

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5 Questions To Ask Before You Join The Ministry

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Ministry

5 Questions To Ask Before You Join The Ministry

Do you like to teach the Bible? Do you enjoy serving others? Do you have a knack helping the hurting? Have you thought about being a pastor? Maybe you never thought you could be a children’s minster at a church, but maybe Jesus is calling you into something that you never dreamed would be for you—or maybe you were born in a baptistery, your first words were sola scriptura, and you day dream about being a preacher.

tumblr n10n1wmxiS1st5lhmo1 1280 300x199 5 Questions To Ask Before You Join The Ministry

We are all ministers (1 Peter 2:9). But not all of us are called into vocational ministry. Wherever you are on the “call to ministry” spectrum, here are five questions you need to answer.

1. Do I Want to Make Disciples and Make Much of Jesus?

You might have a library-load of reasons why you think should be in vocational ministry—but if you don’t have the right reason, you are treading on unholy ground.

A lot of people join the ministry for all the wrong reasons. You don’t become a pastor to make friends. You don’t become a foreign missionary to ease your conscience. And you don’t plant a church for the praise of self. Ministry happens for one two-pronged reason: I want to make disciples and make much of Jesus of Nazareth. Pats on the back are fleeting. Disciple making is eternal. Don’t join the ministry to make Mama and Daddy proud. Do it for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Real ministry is all about Jesus, and making disciples of Jesus. Gospel ministry is a self-explanatory term—it’s all about preaching the gospel and making disciples (Acts 14:21). Student Ministry, Kids Ministry, etc., must be about making disciples and making much of our Galilean King of Kings. If not—it’s no longer Christian. Ask why you want to be in ministry.

Desiring ministry is good thing (1 Timothy 3:1), as long as your aim is the fame of Jesus Christ—which, you know, is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20). Rest assured, Jesus isn’t commissioning you for anything different.

2. Am I Called?

Back in my college ministry days, a guy came up to me and said he felt called to preach. I asked him, “Is anyone calling you to preach?” Cue the crickets. “Are you teaching anywhere right now?” The crickets began to preach.

The calling question is a vital element. You might feel called to vocational ministry, but, believe it or not, you could be wrong. One way to reinforce your calling is by seeing if anyone is calling you. Is your church asking you to teach? Are they asking you to serve more and more? Are God’s people already asking you to serve? Your feelings don’t matter. Feelings are fickle. And a call to ministry is like a burning bush.

Moses knew his calling was sure because God called him, he had a mission, and he had a people to serve. If the Holy Spirit is calling you out (Acts 20:28), what is your mission, and who is it for?

3. What Are My Gifts?

Someone who is good at entertaining middle schoolers doesn’t equal a student minister. A golden smile, a firm handshake, and a preacher voice cooked in a seminary oven won’t yield a pastor. The Holy Spirit of our risen Christ, his power and the gifts he gives, is what makes a minister.

There is no doubt that the Lord can (and does) use our natural brain power and people skills, but if we are going up against the dark powers of the age—and I don’t mean cable television—we need supernatural, make-a-nuke-jealous power: The Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

If you are in Christ, his Spirit is rumbling inside of you, gifting you, ready to exalt the name of Jesus. So, how has Jesus gifted you to exalt his name? That’s what spiritual gifts do. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”(1 Peter 4:10–11 ESV).

A great way to discover your spiritual gifts is by serving in many different ways. Serve in varied ways, see where fruit pops up, and ask others about your gifting. Timothy’s gifting, even at a young age, was obvious to those around him, so much that Paul called him to join his church planting team (Acts 16:1–5, 1 Timothy 4:14–15).

What are those around you noticing? Ask them. They might see your gifting before you do. And they might even encourage you in the midst of discouragement.

4. Am I committed to a local church?

The Apostle Paul’s vision for ministry is one that builds up the body of Christ. Jesus gives us spiritual gifts for the good of his church. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13 ESV).

A calling to ministry should fly in tandem with a love for Christ’s church. You won’t be preaching to a blob of people—that’s Christ’s bride, and you are there to build her up.

Are you presently committed to building up Christ’s church?

  • Are you committed to an actual local church (Hebrews 10:24–25)? Do you serve there (1 Peter 4:10)?
  • Do you generously give for the work of the gospel there (2 Corinthians 9:7; Galatians 6:6–10)?
  • Do you pray for your pastors and leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:25)?
  • Do you submit to spiritual authority (Hebrews 13:17)?

Like Paul and Barnabas, you want identification and affirmation from the leaders of your local church (Acts 13:1–3).

5. Am I ready to wait?

A call to ministry is also a call to wait. Don’t overlook this question. You may be called, affirmed, gifted, and committed to a local church and still not have the ministry you desire. And that’s ok. Joseph waited, nearly two decades, until his dream came true. Moses waited forty-years. David, even after being anointed by Samuel and killed the giant, still had to wait. Jesus waited thirty-years before he launched his ministry. Paul waited three years after his call on the Damascus Road.

Are you called? Are you ready to wait?

The call to ministry is an already-not-yet. You are called—but not yet. You are already summoned, but not yet. I felt called to pastoral ministry at fifteen-years old as a sophomore in high school. And I didn’t get called into the pastoral ministry I desired for another ten years. Wait. God knows what he’s doing. Wait till you are finally and fully called. Satan is ready and willing to offer you a shortcut (Matthew 4:8–10)—I would strongly advise against that.

So where are you on the spectrum? Talk to your pastors, friends, and family. Go through these questions, pray, and see where the Spirit leads.

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10 Marks of What Pastors Do

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in The Gospel and the Ministry

10 Marks of What Pastors Do

IMG 2312 10 Marks of What Pastors DoYou might be wondering if you are called to ministry. You might be wondering if the pastor at your church is called to ministry. You might be wondering how do I find a church that has a qualified pastor. Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum, you’ll find this article helpful.

As I drafted this article, I couldn’t help but think of the Sr. Pastor at Redeemer Fellowship St. Charles, Joe Thorn. He fits this criteria really well. I have the pleasure of calling him my friend, mentor for pastoral ministry, and coach for church planting. But above all those things, he’s my pastor. I say this keeping in mind that Joe is also an elder among elders; these marks are all found in the other elders of Redeemer Fellowship as well: Pat, Brian, Jeff, and our elder candidate, Rob.

Now as you look over these 10 marks, I don’t want you to think, “Well, he didn’t put holiness, humility, or integrity down.” You’re right, I didn’t put those characteristics down and there are still others unsaid that should be conveyed. There will be a post to come where I talk about those things. These marks are not about who a pastor is but what a pastor does. In other words, these are the actions that mark a pastor. This is how a shepherd acts as he cares for the flock God has given him.

If you read and enjoy this article, then I encourage you to share it. If your pastor fits the bill for this description, then tell him. Share this article with him. Say, “Hey pastor, this is you! Thank you for how you do what you do.”

And if you’re a pastor, you might see these marks as daunting. More than anyone, you will feel unworthy of these marks. I’ve pastored for 5 years now, and I know that is the case for me. I feel like I have a ways to go. Yet, day by day, I see the Lord faithfully shaping me into the pastor I am to be.

1. He loves.

1 Timothy 1:5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

2. He prays.

Acts 6:4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

3. He learns.

2 Timothy 3:14 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

4. He preaches.

Acts 6:4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

2 Timothy 4:1 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

5. He counsels.

1 Peter 5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.”

6. He disciples.

2 Timothy 2:2 “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

7. He leads.

1 Peter 5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.”

8. He cares for the suffering.

James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

9. He confronts sin.

1 Timothy 5:20 “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”

10. He confronts false doctrine.

Titus 1:9 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

This post first appeared at Joey’s blog and is posted here with his permission.

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Be Spent For The Gospel

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in The Gospel and the Ministry

Be Spent For The Gospel

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7

With these words the great Apostle Paul gives his last instructions to his beloved disciple Timothy. Paul had experienced an immense amount of persecution (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul summarizes his life as a Christian by calling it a “grand fight,” the underlying symbolism likely being a wrestling-match, boxing-bout, or some other similar contest (1 Tim. 4:7b, 8; 6:12).

The Apostle Paul’s life was a fight, indeed. He fought against Satan, against the principalities and powers, against the world-rulers of this present darkness in the heavenlies, against Jewish and pagan vice and violence,  against Judaizing among the Galatians, against fanaticism among the Thessalonians, against contention, fornication, and litigation among the Corinthians, against incipient Gnosticism among the Ephesians and Colossians, against fighting without and fears within, and last but not least, against the law of sin and death operating within his own heart. But Paul was still able to triumphantly profess, “I have fought the good fight.” And when the Apostle adds, “I have finished the race”— an obstacle race, indeed! — he stressed the fact that in his life as a believer he had fully accomplished that ministry to which the Lord had called him (Acts 20:24). His eye, like that of a skilled runner, was riveted at all times upon the finishing post for the glory of God by means of the salvation of sinners (Gal. 2:2; 5:7;Phil. 2:16; Heb. 12:1-2).

In summarizing the past, Paul finally drops every metaphor and writes, “I have kept the faith.”  Here, as in 1 Timothy 6:12, the meaning is not “I have kept the pledge” nor “I have maintained the true doctrine,” but in harmony with the present context it should be taken to mean, “I have retained my personal trust in God, my confidence in all his Christ-centered promises. In the spiritual arena of life I have not only fought hard and run well but I have also been sustained to the end by the deeply rooted conviction that I shall receive the prize the glorious reward.”


As we have noted, he experienced a great deal of persecution and yet stood fast in the Gospel. Paul’s life modeled in both word and deed the Gospel he proclaimed. This Gospel had pierced his heart and transformed his life through and through. Paul’s life was spent for the Gospel. And here at the end of his life Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:7 is telling young Timothy, “Look. I’ve fought the good fight, I’ve finished the race, I have kept the faith and now you do the same by the grace of God.” Paul had given his life for the Gospel. He had experienced a tremendous amount of difficulty and opposition in preaching the Word of God so that churches could be planted, people might be saved, and individuals like Timothy would be equipped to proclaim the glories of the Gospel to the people of God.


Do you think that all of this sounds great but isn’t applicable to your own life? The Christian walk is a worldview based on the Word and grounded in the Gospel of Jesus. The Word of God propelled Paul’s heart and life, and the Gospel provided the fuel for his fire. The twin tandem of the Word of God and the Gospel transformed Paul’s life and the Mediterranean world. It is the same today.

Only by having a proper view of God, one that fears Him, that trembles at His Word, that speaks only what He has spoken in His Word, that bathes heart, mind and soul in the ocean of God’s grace in the Gospel will we make a difference. Christianity is a life-view from beginning to end with Christ at the center and the Holy Spirit convicting, empowering, and making much of Jesus.  It involves ordinary people that make much of the sufficiency of Jesus from the Word of God to non-Christians and to the people of God.


Then prepare yourself by grounding your life in the world of the Bible. Saturate your heart, mind and life in the Gospel. Get involved in your local church, taking care to not idolize your ministry but rather use it as means for your sanctification. Ministry is all about knowing and making Jesus known. Be spent for the Gospel because your heart and mind have been gripped by a vision of the majesty of God who sent forth His Son to bleed, die, and rise again to serve as our Mediator, Intercessor, and High Priest. Be spent for that vision and not for any other vision.

Paul was spent for the Gospel because he knew that Jesus was coming back. The vision of Jesus’ soon return gave him impetus for why was spent for the Gospel, and it will give us the same drive. Paul notes in 2 Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” Be spent for the Gospel.  Give your whole life to the cause of the Gospel and watch as God uses ordinary you in powerful ways to expand His kingdom to the glory of God.

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