Sermon: Leadership Pt.1

Written by Timothy

Leadership, Part 1
sermon transcript
roughly year 2000

What is godly leadership and what isn’t? Do we really want godly leadership? This sermon is about the heart of the matter. We not will talk about the particulars of how leadership comes out or the authority that leadership has but rather the kind of heart and qualities that a leader needs to have.

John 13:1- It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

It’s as if all the things that Jesus Christ did during his ministry were a small reflection compared to what takes place in this passage. This is the full extent of his love. Each person who is a leader, or for that matter any of us, knows that we will be with the Father soon. So this is the character and the heart of Jesus Christ and of those who belong to him. Our leaders should possess the same kind of heart.

John 13:2- The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.

Satan knew this day was coming and he wanted to destroy and disrupt it. Satan knows those whom God tries to work leadership in and he will seek to destroy that heart of leadership from ever being produced in their lives. So he prompts other people to say, “This is enough. This is foolishness. You shouldn’t allow this.”

John 13:3- Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power. . .

Jesus has the authority, the power, and the leadership and he knew it. This whole business called leadership has two extremes. One extreme is where men lord their authority over other people, and the other extreme says that nobody has any authority or leadership. What we will see in Jesus Christ is that men can have authority and leadership. However, if they have the cross in their lives it is no danger to anyone, but a blessing.

John 13:3- Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power. . .

He knew God gave him the authority and the power. Paul said, “I know I have this authority that comes from Jesus Christ.” But a leader who does not have the cross formed in his life is a deadly man. The one thing we should look for as to whether or not someone is qualified to be a leader is not whether they have an education, or can do miracles. The acid test is seen in the following passage. If this is not in their lives, you have no business being in their church or submitting to them. This is the full extent of God’s love, and only the cross can form this in a man.

John 13:4- so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

This is the full extent of God’s love. Look at the humility and meekness that comes out. It doesn’t come out in a showy way. It doesn’t come out in miracles or loud pronouncement. It doesn’t come out with Jesus Christ saying, “Look, I have this authority. I have this power. This is who I am.” There is no glorying in who he is. There’s a continual lowering of himself, of getting down from the meal and getting down below them to serve them and wash their feet. He takes off everything outward that would say he’s exalted, privileged, or blessed in God. He becomes the servant of all.

John 13:5- After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Notice what God calls us to look toward. But when we hire people for leadership or when the church says they are looking for a pastor, what do they look for? How many people the prospective pastor has baptized. How many people he’s shared with. What kind of education he has. What miracles he has done. How often does he pray? There’s never a test of how well he serves other people and how lowly he is in this area.

John 13:5- After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

This leadership is very close to Jesus. It’s the essence of what God is. It’s the full extent of his love. It is identifying with others and washing one another’s feet. This is what leadership is about. This is what leadership is supposed to do. This is what it should be in their hearts. It’s to be the towel of washing one another’s feet wrapped around the very essence of who they are.

John 13:6- He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

People don’t want that kind of humility. We want leaders with flash. We want leaders to say what we want them to say, but we don’t want them to serve us. Not to this extent.

John 13:7- Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

They had no clue of the fullness of God’s love or how to show it to other people. But they will have soon enough. What will happen soon that will make all of this clear? What will make it a reality? Jesus Christ being crucified. Until any man, I don’t care who he is, has experienced that closeness of the cross, he is not fit for leadership. I don’t care what he has done, what insights he has, what miracles he can perform, or what kind of excitement he can produce in a congregation. Until he has experienced the cross that crucifies his flesh, he is not fit, or ready for leadership. It will turn out deadly every single time. Because self will exalt itself in pride. Self will take advantage of other people. Self will go on to boast of itself, until it has this:

John 13:7- Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

How we need to have our eyes opened! Jesus Christ can wash our feet, and love us, but we don’t have a clue about what he does or his character, nor are we interested. We want something else besides a Jesus who just quietly goes around serving other people. Everybody has to be called to a grand ministry. Everybody has to hear that God has a terrific plan for them. It’s true he does have a terrific plan for themit’s to wash one another’s feet. This is the full extent of God’s love, not all the large outward things that we look toward. He says, “But later you will understand.” Later when they get close to the cross, later when they weep before the Lord. Later, when they have to walk the road to Emmaus. Later when they are left to themselves. Later, when they despise who they are and what is in their hearts, then they will understand. It will finally go off in their hearts and they’ll realize that this is what God is about. He is about fellowship. And if there’s one thing that marks true leadership, it’s fellowship with the congregation. Usually that’s the very last thing that you see within churches today.

How often I’ve been told that leadership is aloof, and you can’t really get too close. We will see that is the total opposite of the kingdom. How can you not be close to someone who’s washing your feet? How can they not know you intimately and you know them intimately? It’s an impossible thing.

John 13:8- “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

This is the very essence of who God is. This is what it is to show the full extent of love toward one another. This is what they are to go out and teach. If a pastor is to preach anything, he should preach the full extent of God’s love. His message should demonstrate, “We’re here to serve one another. Be prepared to go on to glory, to live with one another forever. Find fellowship to be your supreme joy.” No wonder Jesus Christ said, “If you don’t allow me to do this, if you can’t rejoice in this simple thing, if this isn’t what causes you to have the most excitement in our relationship, then you have no part with me.” It’s not like you can choose other things in Jesus Christ that are exciting and fun to do and say, “I just don’t want this servant part.” The servant part is the full extent and joy that’s in Jesus Christ. This is what leadership should point to. This is the example that it is supposed to set.

John 13:9-10- “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”

In other words, Jesus Christ said, “I’m not setting down a tradition here. If you think that’s what I’m doing then you’re missing the whole point.” This does not mean that every other Sunday we’re supposed to have foot washings, and somehow we’ve fulfilled what Jesus Christ spoke about here. This is what is in the heart of Jesus Christ, not some outward washing, or different traditions and customs in order to fulfill this part of the scripture. This is an attitude of the heart that you cannot force. You can’t lay down ten rules and say, “Ok, let’s wash one another’s feet.” It comes out in the smallest of things. It comes out in doing dishes for one another, or going out of the way to communicate with somebody. It’s the small ways of laying down your life and saying, “How can I serve and bless this other person and find that to be a joy? These are the things we will discover. This is what leadership should point us to and set the example in. It’s selfless love for one another. But only the cross can form that. You can read books about this all day long. You can listen to sermons about it, but only the cross can work this in a man’s life. He will not be fit for leadership until the cross has done its work

John 13:12- When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.

Do you really understand?

John 13:13- You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am.

2 Corinthians 10:8- For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.

As I said earlier, this issue has two extremes. One extreme is where men stand up and say, “I’m in leadership and I have this authority and anointing. Don’t touch God’s anointed.” They have a whole system of pride set up. Then the other extreme is where people say, “We don’t want anybody to be known in leadership. We don’t want anybody to have that particular title. We’re just all brothers.” Either way it’s destructive. One leaves the sheep without any protection and guidance and the other abuses the sheep and takes advantage of them. Jesus Christ knew where he was coming from, he knew what God had called him to do, and he knew the authority. He said, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.” But that doesn’t mean that it comes out in arrogance. This manifested in the washing of the disciples feet. Paul said;

2 Corinthians 10:8- For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.

There is an authority that God gives to men saying that they are in positions of leadership. The problem is we don’t know enough about true leadership in God to test them. How many people in the congregation know enough to ask “Is the cross fully formed in him? Has the cross done its work in this person we call a leader?” They don’t ask those questions. They’re taken in by all kinds of other things that we’ll see in the upcoming studies. For who of us knows how to apply the quiet test called the cross? Yet that is the full extent of God’s love.

John 13:14- Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.

What does he mean? What is the authority that he speaks with? This is the very kingdom of God. Do you realize that when we die and go to heaven and sit down at the wedding banquet, that Jesus Christ will wait on us? We will say, “Pass the salt” and he will get up to go get it. That is the nature of heaven to serve one another. If we don’t find that to be the full extent of our love here, in a body, we will find heaven to be hell. We will detest being there.

John 13:15-17- I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

You will not be blessed if you just study about them or discuss them. You will not be blessed if you say, “This is a grand idea,” but only if you actually set out to do them. All of this is about action. But the church is full of a lot of talk. The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk. It is a matter of power. It is a matter of doing these things. It is a matter of getting down and really loving somebody else and showing them the full extent of God’s love. “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

How many churches and Christians are not blessed at all, because they don’t live this passage? They have revival meetings, projects, and all kinds of missionary work. They may also have loud and exciting things to do, but you don’t walk away saying, “My how they serve one another! How they meet each other’s needs in Jesus Christ!” If you do them you’ll be blessed. This is a blessed congregation. How quiet and simple it is. How holy and powerful it is. It is at the very center of who God is.

Ezekiel 34:1- The word of the Lord came to me:

The following must be said over and over again, since we’re talking about leadership. Unless the cross has been formed in a man to crucify him, the only thing he serves you with is himself. He will feed only himself. He will see to it with all of his false humility and wise spiritual words that it is ultimately his needs that will be met.

Ezekiel 34:1-3- The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.’”

Unless the cross has been formed in a man that we call leader, whether that be in elders, deacons, or teachers, he has no right to be in any position of leadership. He will only feed himself. He will only abuse the flock, and he will only take advantage of other people for his own benefit.

Ezekiel 34:5- So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.

They were just left to themselves. The church fell apart. The sheep were scattered all over the place and anybody who wanted to take them as plunder was able to do it because they were in a weakened condition. This is the nature of those who feed themselves.

Ezekiel 34:6-My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

They are lost and in sad condition. Why? The shepherds fed only themselves. They were scattered over the whole earth and no one searched or looked for them.

Ezekiel 34:7- Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:

How sober it is for a man to say, “I want to be a teacher,” or “I am in leadership.” That’s why James said, “Not many of us should consider ourselves to be teachers because we will be judged more severely.”

Ezekiel 34:7-10- Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

I will have to stand before God and give an account for each person’s life. Each person in leadership will have to stand before God and say “I either served them and washed their feet,” or “I took advantage of them for my own benefit.” It is no light thing to say, or to admit that one is in a position of leadership. “I will rescue my flock from their mouths.” They devour people, and self is fed. They are puffed up, exalted, and use people for their own benefit. They’re in the very mouths of these shepherds and God says “I will rescue them from their very mouths. What they think they have their hands on, and their mouths on, I will take from them. It will not be theirs.” Why? They feed themselves. The people will no longer be food for them.

Jude 1:12- These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted twice dead.

What is so amazing about this is that the congregations put up with it. Scripture tells us the congregations love these kinds of shepherds. This is a two-fold thing here. There are shepherds who are wicked and there are flocks that really desire men like that.

Jude 1:12- These men are blemishes at your love feasts. . .

They are in your church. They sit down and fellowshipping with you. It is amazing that these types of men can sit there in the middle of the congregation eating with them and the church does not even have any sense at all that they are who they are. There is no indignation because there’s no understanding of what the cross is about. A man who is being crucified can look over and see who is next to him and whether that cross is being formed in the other person’s life. You can’t fake it. “These men are blemishes at your love feasts.” Why do you allow them to get by with what they get by with?

Jude 1:12- These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm shepherds who feed only themselves.

Look at the condemnation in this verse and then listen to how we talk. Do you hear these kinds of pronouncements within the church? No. Do you find congregations that are upset about these men? No. They justify their own sins; therefore they get the leaders that they deserve.

Jude 1:12- They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted twice dead.

How much more serious of a condemnation can God speak? These are not men to be toyed with, justified, or excused. Either they have the cross in their lives and submit to it or they are uprooted, twice dead blemishes at your love feasts that need to be dealt with. So before anyone can be in a leadership position, the cross must be judged and measured in their life to the fullest extent.

Jude 1:13- They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars. . .

Wandering stars.” They have a light and a message, but they wander all over the place and are not connected into the head at all. But look at the judgment God gives them. So before you put yourself in a position of leadership, if you feed yourself, this is the pronouncement:

Jude 1:13- . . . for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

The blackest part of hell is reserved for these kinds of shepherds. So where is the indignation? Where is the crying out to God for men qualified for real leadership? Who deals with any man who claims to be a leader, teacher, prophet, deacon or whatever he lays claim to? Only the cross can test a man.

In Mark 9:33-37 talks about the character of leadership. This passage tells us what to look for, what to examine, and what should be in their hearts.

Mark 9:33- They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”

Jesus Christ hears the conversations that take place among those in leadership. He hears what is in their hearts.

Mark 9:34- But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

“Which church is the most exciting? Who has the most projects? Who does the most things?” We provoke one another unto jealousy. “What were you discussing? What were you really talking about?” When was the last time you ever heard of a group of leaders get together and talk about washing one another’s feet? Who advertises their church as one that washes one another’s feet? Where is the explanation so people walk away from that kind of serving church and say, “There’s something heavenly there”? Instead, what is exalted and puffed up is each congregation, each person against another person, each teacher against another, and who can do the greatest thing. They are smart enough not to say they are the greatest. They are smart enough to show some false humility to cloud up what really goes on in their hearts.

Mark 9:35- Sitting down. . .

Why does scripture tell us that? Jesus wants to stop all the activity, the thinking, and arguing. He wants things to get very quiet and he just sits down. He asked for their full attention by doing nothing but getting quiet. This would be a true leadership meeting. They just sit down and listen to what Jesus Christ has to say about what is in the heart of true leaders.

Mark 9:35- Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

If somebody wants to be a missionary then they must practice being the very, very last. There should be no seeking of position and any discussion or ideas about doing grand things for God. Do the smallest thing in Jesus Christ and do it with all your heart and all the humility that is in him with no thought of self-glorification at all.

Mark 9:36-37- He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me. . .”

Is this the kind of leadership we welcome? Is this really what we look for? Is this the kind of leaders that congregations want and expect? Is this what they become excited about? But this is the essence of who Jesus Christ is.

Mark 9:37- . . . and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.

This is the humility that we should look for and rejoice in. This is the full extent of his love. If we do these things, our joy will be complete.

1 Corinthians 1:17- For Christ did not send me to baptize. . .

God didn’t send Paul to do a grand work of gathering up all these people. Baptism is a part of the gospel, but that’s not why God sent him. If God wanted to baptize people, he could have angels do that. That was not the goal.

1 Corinthians 1:17- . . . but to preach the gospel not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Lots of churches preach about the cross, denying self, and hating one’s own life, but it comes with human wisdom. How can we tell it comes with human wisdom? Because we don’t see men washing one another’s feet. Serving others is not exalted.

1 Corinthians 1:18- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

I want to point us back to the cross. When anybody comes into a position of leadership and we begin to pray for God to send workers and teachers, we will look for the cross. Do they have the power of God in their life? What do we mean when we say that? We mean do they have the cross formed in their life? Too often we welcome those who are children in the Lord as the teachers, prophets, elders, and deacons.

The first thing that is supposed to happen between leadership and the congregation is fellowship. I have heard preachers boast of the fact that they are a “project person” and not a “people person.” In that case, they have no business being at the pulpit. All of creation the entire universe is a people project. Everything about going to heaven and Jesus Christ dying is a people project. It’s about fellowship. So the first thing that should take place is not a bunch of outward tests and examinations, but how well we fellowship in the Spirit with one another and know each other in the light. Then fear is driven out because you know the heart of leadership.

1 Thessalonians 2:17- But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.

Look at his conversation in relationship to the congregation. Look at the love and fellowship that happened between Paul and these people. This is a family, not just a congregation. Is this the relationship we normally see between a preacher and his congregation?

1 Thessalonians 2:18- For we wanted to come to you certainly I, Paul, did, again and again but Satan stopped us.

Satan hates this kind of fellowship because it’s the full extent of God’s love. It’s where he prompted Judas to do his work. It is the very essence of what heaven is about and he wants to destroy that kind of church. Satan would love for us to keep miracles, projects, goals anything but this. He would love for us to think we are holy and righteous and our leadership has sound doctrine, but if there’s no love or unity he has won. He doesn’t have to stop anything. If people want to know if I have sound doctrine, if they want to know if they can submit to my authority, then they will have to love me by way of the cross. They will not know any other way.

1 Thessalonians 2:19- For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

God didn’t send me to baptize. He didn’t send me to get a number count. Paul said that he gloried in his brothers and sisters. This is our hope, our joy, and our crown. This is what we will boast about before the Lord. We will be able to say, “I loved this brother. He loved me. We walked in unity and took up the cross. We denied ourselves. We fellowshipped. She is our joy and our crown. He is the one whom I love in Jesus Christ.” Is this the type of fellowship we want with one another? It’s the same thing with the leadership. Read it again.

1 Thessalonians 2:19- For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

Everybody wants to say, “It’s my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” We think we will die and it will just be us and Jesus Christ standing before God. We think we get to come in because we prayed, fasted, and did religious things. But whom did they love? Who did they fellowship with and lay down their lives for? They washed one another’s feet. When we stand before God it will be a brother or sister or ten or ten thousand that we will turn to and say, “This is my glory. This is my hope and my crown.” Now how many of us love others so much that we turn and say, “They are my crown in Jesus Christ”? We’re lucky in most churches if people just tolerate each other a week for a couple of hours. When was the last time you said, “That’s my crown, my hope, and my joy?” Are we so dead to ourselves, our personal opinions, and our own little lives that we are able to love others with this kind of love? This is supposed to be the relationship that leadership has with the congregation, let alone the congregation with each other. When people ask me really stupid questions like, “Who is over you in the Lord?” I know they don’t understand this kind of love. Look, get into the light and begin to love and all things will be visible. But you must do this with love.

1 Thessalonians 2:20-3:1- Indeed, you are our glory and joy. So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.

What is the test of whether someone is really firm in Jesus Christ or whether his or her faith is really true?

1 Thessalonians 3:2-3- We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.

Satan wants to break up this kind of fellowship. He is desperate to do it. He will want to send bitter roots, to destroy, and he wants to create evil suspicions. He will do everything in his power to stop the fellowship and love from increasing. This is his major attack.

1 Thessalonians 3:4-5- In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith.

How does he find out about their faith? Does he have a little form for them to fill out? “Do you believe in the Trinity? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? Do you use tongues properly? Let’s find out about your faith. Let’s go down the checklist.” What is the test to find out about their faith?

1 Thessalonians 3:5- I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

What will be the test? How will he know whether Satan has won in this circumstance?

1 Thessalonians 3:6- But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

That’s the test? You bet that’s the test. The full extent of God’s love is to wash one another’s feet. The way Satan will seek to divide and destroy right off the bat is to place evil suspicions in your mind or cause your flesh to rise up so that you may not love. The test is this: if you have pleasant memories about us. Are you so firm in Jesus Christ and so much picking up your cross and denying self that when you think of us, you have pleasant memories? You see if a man doesn’t want to carry his cross, or hate his life, then leadership is not a pleasant memory, it is a threat. Whom we fellowship with tells us everything.

1 Thessalonians 3:7- Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.

From now on when we say, “That brother really has faith,” this is what we mean. If he doesn’t have this faith, then we need not say that he has faith. If this is not our love, our joy, and our crown, then it is not fellowship. The cross is not doing its work, so we cannot say he or she has faith.

1 Thessalonians 3:8- For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.

They stood firm in the Lord through pleasant memories.

1 Thessalonians 3:9- How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

Do you see the fellowship?

1 Thessalonians 3:10- Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

Look at the fellowship between the leaders and the flock. Look at the love they have for one another.

1 Thessalonians 3:9- How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

We hope to come and teach you some more things. But it has to do with fellowship, not head knowledge. The fellowship only leads to greater fellowship and laying down our lives for one another. This is supposed to be the connection and the life between those who are in leadership and positions of authority and those who are in the congregation.

This fellowship is so important that Paul is even willing to let sin slide in order to maintain the relationship. Think of a family. Families have rules, guidelines, and some sort of structure. But there are times when a father lets certain things slide in order to maintain love and fellowship because he just doesn’t want to get involved in all the distress that could come because of the rules. The rules are there for the benefit of the family not for the family to serve the rules.

1 Corinthians 1:23-2:2- I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved?

This isn’t a power trip thing. In many churches, the leadership is just concerned with right and wrong and keeping the rules. Paul was willing to put off the rules and rebukes if he could just maintain the fellowship. The sin will be dealt with soon enough. We’ll get to it eventually. Just fellowship with me. Don’t you understand? This is a family! We are supposed to love one another. So it’s not the rules that everybody begins to serve, it’s the fellowship that is important. Paul said that eventually we’d work through all the other things.

Paul called on God as his witness that he would not come and grieve them. The whole point was he didn’t want to grieve them. He wanted to resolve with love and fellowship.

2 Corinthians 2:2-3- For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.

He wrote them a strong letter so that when he came, he didn’t have to grieve them. This is not an ego thing where he comes in and says, “Okay, I’m God’s anointed and I’m here to make sure everybody is in line.” He wrote this strong letter so that when he arrived they wouldn’t have to go through that. They already had themselves in shape so that when he arrived they could fellowship. Of course scripture does say that sometimes you have to disfellowship people, but what a joke that is in most places. In order to disfellowship someone, you have got to have something to disfellowship them from. The idea behind disfellowship is that there is so much love in the body that when you go to them and say they have a sin to deal with and will be outside the body until they repent, that it hurts. In most churches they will say, “So what. What will I lose? What will be the consequences? I’ll just go on to the next congregation.” There is supposed to be so much love and unity that it causes a person to wake up and say,” I lose everybody whom I love.” The concern is not about rules and regulations, but “I will lose this brother, who is my joy, who is my crown, who lays down his life for me. I’d better find out what the sin is in my life.” That’s why disfellowship is supposed to be powerful.


2 Corinthians 2:3- I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.

Do you see what he said? It’s the joy that he was concerned about. The central issue is the joy of fellowship with one another. But most people just want to know what’s right and wrong. Basically the preacher is a schoolmaster. He comes in, gives the 10 rules or the 42 principles but it has nothing to do with the joy of a relationship with his brothers and sisters. Every sermon that is preached is preached to feed himself, bring in the numbers, make himself look exalted, or hear, “That was a really good sermon.” But when you begin to fellowship, when you die and lay down your life for others, then every sermon and every action has to do with a relationship with one another that can be broken or built up in Jesus Christ. When I admonish someone it’s not just to tell them what they did was wrong but to let them know that the wrongdoing will divide us. We want to let our brothers know there’s an area they need to die in, and if they die we can fellowship on a deeper level. That is the whole point. If you do these things your joy will be complete. So the whole goal of a teacher is to teach how to lay down our lives for one another so that our joy might be complete. If we want joy in God’s house then self has to go. Of course then we have to hate our own lives. But how often do you see this type of relationship between anyone in leadership and the congregation?

2 Corinthians 2:3- I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.

That should be the longing and burning desire of anybody who says they want to be a teacher or leader. It’s the one question you should ask. What is the most important thing that should be on their resume? If they say to fellowship, then they understand. Instead you get wise answers, “Whatever glorifies God,” but not to wash one another’s feet.

2 Corinthians 2:4- For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

So often preaching is just to get an emotional effect. A bold message is given to convict people, make them feel guilty or make them change something. Pastors set out with that purpose and miss the whole goal of the gospel. That may be the effect, but they shouldn’t write to cause somebody grief. They shouldn’t write to exalt themselves or make others do something that is proper to do. They should write to show the congregation the depth of their love for them. “I write and tell you this because I love you and you know it’s not just words that are being said.” They actually take off the outer garments, get down on the floor and begin to wash one another’s feet. This is not something that you can just say with words; you see it in action.

This is the whole goal of preaching, writing to one another, and discussing things. Men get in all kinds of debates about different topics. However who gets into a debate about some particular doctrinal issue with this goal in mind?

1 John 1:1- That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

These men understand the cross. “I have tasted, felt it, saw it, and experienced it. I know its pain, and its joy. I know the resurrection; I know the very power of God that can transform a man.” These are just some credentials that he tried to give in his letter. This is why you have to pay attention. He was with Jesus Christ. They walked along the same roads. He belonged to him. Now pay attention to what he said. He said he has tasted this, felt it, and has been with Jesus. Anyone who is in a position of leadership must be able to say, “I have tasted it and experienced it. I know what it is to be broken of pride. I know what it is to be shattered.”

As the scripture says, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” It is a life of purity, and we have seen it and testify to it. We proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We have seen the crucified life and the resurrected life. What we write to you, we have experienced. What we write to you is the same thing everybody can experience. It’s not dry, dead doctrine. It’s not a teaching of laws, concepts, and ideologies. This is the Word of Life. This is a living Jesus Christ who has come to us and said, “This self must be crucified.” We have heard him say we must hate our own life. We have experienced that brokenness. We know what we’re talking about. The reason we write you is not that we are so exalted because we walked with him, or that we are so privileged that he chose us, but so we can fellowship with you.

1 John 1:3- We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

John said that everything we preached and declared is so that you might fellowship with us. For someone to say that they are a Christian means that they come into this kind of fellowship. And it especially starts with leadership. To fellowship with John would be to participate in the cross of Jesus Christ. This is why he said in verse 4, “We write this to make our joy complete.” What is our joy? What is our crown? What is our hope? It’s supposed to be each other! There are so few people who are willing to pick up the cross, and hate their own life and love, as heaven loves. No wonder he said, “We write this to make your joy complete.”

Let’s go ahead and pray.

Father, these things we’ve looked at, we cannot work. But we know that you cannot only work them, but you desire and long, Father, for them to be worked. And we ask, Oh Lord, that you come to deal with us, that we might fellowship with one another, and that we might fellowship with you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.


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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.