Leadership, Part 6
We will talk about how to rebuke leadership. It is probably the most dangerous sermon for me to preach, because I expect everybody will seek to live it out with zeal. This is a good thing to do. We will look at different passages and I’ll give you seven points to help you to know when to rebuke leadership. We first must realize that I am not a leader who is your brother, but a brother who happens to be a position of leadership.
Matthew 23:8- But you are not to be called “Rabbi,” for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
When we speak of rebuking another person, we need to redefine how we view the word “rebuke.” We tend to think of a rebuke as something that is harsh, firm, and a public event. Rebuking, admonishing, teaching, and encouraging one another is fellowship, and I am your brother. This teaching that says you cannot rebuke or challenge leadership is absurd. I am your brother in Jesus Christ. I expect and want dialogue, wrestling, rebukes, and encouragement. Rebuking is a normal part of fellowship. If I am fellowshipping with you in the light, you are to do the same thing with me, because I am only your brother.
1. Do not rejoice in the fact that you can rebuke leadership, just fellowship.
Luke 6:31- Do to others as you would have them do to you.
I am just your brother, so treat me in the same way you want to be treated. I don’t rejoice that I can rebuke you. If I have that attitude, then I am not worthy to be in a position of leadership. Don’t begin to look for all the faults you can find, in order to point something out. I don’t walk around looking for faults in order to rebuke you and fulfill some biblical command. It is a matter of us coming into fellowship and loving one another, and you treating me the same way you want to be treated. If you want me to speak the truth to you, then speak the truth to me. If you don’t want people to talk behind your back, then don’t talk behind my back or anyone in leadership.
Proverbs 27:17- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Be iron in the Lord yourself and I will be iron in the Lord, and together we can begin to refine and purify each other. Now think about iron for a moment. It’s cold and hard in its raw form. It’s rough on the edges and if iron rubs against glass, what happens? It shatters. There are individuals who are glass in Jesus Christ. They are so sensitive and take everything so personal. They look at everything as a rebuke and when iron rubs up against them, they shatter into a million pieces and blame the person who is iron. We each need to be iron in the Lord, not taking every little incident so personally, or looking at every little fault that we think a person should change. I know every one of you has an idea of what leadership should be. But there is no way I can possibly conform to everyone’s opinion and ideas of how I should conduct myself. Even if I knew what everyone’s demands were, my personality is not consistent enough that I could always be everything to all people, at all times. So we have to be a little bit firm in the Lord to be able to take other people’s rough edges. We have to be strong enough that we can come against each other, create some friction and heat to burn off those edges, making ourselves hot in Jesus Christ without destroying each other. We want to be two pieces of iron that can rub against each other and build up the heat and friction so that it turns red-hot for Jesus Christ. I need the fellowship of people who will dialogue and wrestle with me. I need people who will look me in the face and tell me I am the biggest jerk in the world, if that is how they feel. I want them to say it to my face and we will wrestle it out. Of course, by the same token I will do the same thing to them. We are talking about fellowship and the freedom to challenge and rebuke, because we are all brothers in the Lord. There is nothing that says because someone is in leadership you can’t come to him or her on something. That attitude is absurd and it allows sin to grow.
Proverbs 15:22- Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
I do not have all the answers. I know that comes as a shock to most of you, but I do not have all the answers. It may look like I have all the answers because we are just learning some basic things. This is not an insult to you in Jesus Christ, but if I am explaining to a kindergartner the concept of 2 + 2 = 4, he will think I am the most intelligent being on the face of the earth. That’s because he hasn’t matured. Eventually, when he reaches the teenage stage, he will think I’m stupid and don’t know anything. Right now we are looking at some very elementary basic things in Jesus Christ. We haven’t faced any strong battles as a body. This is the first time we’ve met at this building and we’re trying to establish the church. What will happen when we begin to have one hundred people, or two hundred? I don’t have all the answers. I can’t even be in all the right places at the right time. I can’t be what I need to be to everybody. I need your counsel.
Proverbs 15:22- Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
I need all the advice and insight that I can glean from everybody. Though I may reject most of it at first, I still need the counsel. I need the thinking process. There may be one thing you say that changes the course and makes things what they should be, but I will never hear it if you don’t come to me. If you talk to everyone else about a situation, I’ll never understand or know what to do in Jesus Christ. I need the counsel and discussion. I need to know you, your emotions, and your fears. I need to know these things the same way you need to know if my plans will succeed. The very last thing I want is for everything to fail. We are talking about fellowship, rich fellowship.
In 1 Timothy 5:19 leadership is accountable and held to a higher standard. The truth is, most people don’t want godly leadership. They want men who are at least equal to them or beneath them. Look at the people who are elected to public office. We don’t elect people who are above us. We want individuals who are either at the same level or below us. We don’t want men who, by their lives, will convict us to change.
1 Timothy 5:19- Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.
Leaders are held to a higher standard. But the way you need to rebuke them is also held at a higher standard. Look at verse 20.
1 Timothy 5:20- Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.
I’m not an elder, but the point is those who are in positions of leadership are to be held up before everybody in the congregation and rebuked publicly when they sin. Not only is leadership to be rebuked, but they are held to a higher standard. If they fall into sin, you are to take them before the whole congregation and rebuke them and say, “You shouldn’t act in this manner because everyone is watching your life.” Leadership is accountable to everyone and if the body sees leadership getting by with something then it filters down into the congregation. The body will believe that they can get by with sin or it is acceptable before God. It is up to you to hold leadership accountable but know how serious it is if you bring an accusation or a charge against someone in leadership. If the accusation is true, then the person in leadership or eldership must be brought before the whole congregation. You must know what you say is correct.
1 Timothy 5:19- Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.
When someone comes to you and says, “I think so and so did this,” you are to say, “I won’t discuss this with you because you do not have two or three people as witnesses.” You don’t discuss it, period. You say, “You need to deal with your sin because you don’t have the necessary witnesses.” Gossip will build or one little comment will begin to spread through the whole place, if you entertain this discussion. Think of the times we say things we don’t fully mean. I say things all the time that I regret saying. We all voice our opinions and after we have said it we know it wasn’t quite right. But we don’t know who heard it. In a body this can have a tremendous effect. If someone says something in the corner, by the time it gets to you, the story has totally changed. If a person says, “I heard so-and-so did this,” and there are no other witnesses to verify it, then the odds are it is probably just a rumor, something that got out of hand. They are to be rebuked. But look at the seriousness of what happens that caused a rebuke to be necessary. Do we want leadership that we have to drag up here every Sunday and rebuke publicly? Is that how we want to spend our time? We need to pray for leadership that we don’t have to rebuke in that manner.
2. We are to share all good things with our teachers.
Galatians 6:6- Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
Many people come to me and say, “I don’t want to share this with you because I don’t want you to get into pride.” So they never compliment or share the insight they received. People rarely say, “You made that point in the sermon and it was really good,” or “I really see what you are saying.” All this does is hinder me. Now it is true that I can get puffed up, but it is also true that if you pray like you need to pray, God is big enough to deal with the pastor. If he is able to give Paul a thorn in the flesh to keep him from getting into pride, God is able to deal with a pastor’s pride. If you see it happening, I can be brought up here publicly and be rebuked for my pride. You only injure yourself when you hear a sermon, examine it in the word, but don’t come and say, “Hey, I see what you were saying.” I have no idea whether you are learning anything or not. When you come and tell me, I don’t think, “Oh, gee whiz, I really enlightened this fellow.” I am excited about what the Holy Spirit teaches you and that you understand it. Apply it and then we can move on to the next thing. It also helps if you come back and say, “You know Tim, I really learned from one of your sermons.” What if you are totally off base in your interpretation of the sermon? Either I didn’t communicate correctly or you didn’t hear correctly. I then know how to back up and teach correctly. Galatians 6:6 is a direct commandment. Whoever receives any instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Also, sharing good things with me keeps me from becoming totally discouraged and giving up. It gives me the fellowship that is so necessary. I want to fellowship with you in the word. By examining the word you remind me of the things that are in God and Jesus Christ. You build me up and by presenting it back to me, and then I also have to ask if I live it. I examine myself to see if the things you share with me are found in my life. Why do we think a man is worthy enough to challenge and rebuke leadership when he hasn’t shared the good things that he has learned? There is no basis for a relationship or fellowship in this situation. All it looks like is that you complain and whine about what you learn.
3. Learn to submit for your own benefit.
Hebrews 13:17- Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.
I have authority. It doesn’t say submit because they are in a position of leadership, it says submit because they have authority. I have authority in which to direct the church for the benefit of the body. I either have the authority that comes from the Lord or I don’t. This is the authority that you need to submit to. It is for your benefit and not for my own gain for you to submit. If I become a selfish man trying to get things for myself, then what are you to do? You are to rebuke me publicly.
Hebrews 13:17- Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.
If you don’t want leadership in your life, then go to another church, because I have to watch your life and see how you are growing in Jesus Christ. Is it to your benefit to tell me what you are learning? You bet, because if you come to me, show me you have learned new things and I see your excitement, I can walk away knowing I can leave you alone as you keep growing in the Lord. Scripture says the parts of the body that are the weaker deserve more attention. So if I don’t think you are growing or you’re being stubborn, guess who will be in your life a little bit more? I am watching out for the weaker parts of the body, to give them my special attention. If you don’t want my special attention, then just grow up and get on with what you need to do and come to me and say, “Tim, I am doing fine. Don’t come to me.”
Hebrews 13:17- They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Do you really want me grumpy? You don’t want me angry, you want my work to be a joy. We don’t want to hassle over minor things. For instance, there is somebody in the church (I won’t mention names), who doesn’t like my skinny ties, so I will submit as much as I can to wear wider ties. So in the same way, you need to find all the things that you can submit to that aren’t that important. If I ask that things be done in a certain way, it is not necessarily a salvation issue. If it is not the end of the world, go do it with joy, so I can get on with my work. Being in leadership, I know a little more about the body’s needs. Think about a teenager who doesn’t want to do something. Suppose it’s doing the dishes. They’ll say, “Why should I do dishes?” You have to spend thirty minutes explaining all the reasons why dishes have to be done and the bottom line is, it doesn’t get done. Or you could turn and say, “Just because I said so. You just have to submit.” You will have to use some discernment. Yes, we submit but we are to be submitting to one another in the Lord.
Hebrews 13:17- Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Many things need to be done in the Lord. Right now, things are under control, but people are amazed at how many phone calls I get in a day. We are just barely getting started and if I have to sit and explain every small detail that needs to be handled, nothing of real significance will get done. I’ll tell you right now that I will submit to you in everything I possibly can that won’t cause me to compromise the gospel.
Ephesians 5:21- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Submission is not a one-way streetit goes both ways. Our attitude about submission is simply this: we are in relationship with Jesus Christ and out of our love, holiness, and reverence for him, we will submit to everything we possibly can. I will look for things that I can submit to. I will ask myself, what does this brother or sister need in Jesus Christ? How can I serve them in Jesus Christ? Submission is never only congregation to leadership; it is always leadership to congregation and congregation to leadership. We submit to each other in every single thing we can. That is loving and serving one another. That is how the joy and peace are maintained in the body. But if we whine all the time, “Oh, he asked me to do this and he wants it done this way. He is really picky about this,” everyone begins to grumble. Pretty soon everyone is biting and devouring one another.
4. We need to lay down our expectations.
You must see my heart. You must ask the Lord about the heart of leadership. You need to understand that I desperately want to lay down my life for you in every way possible by the grace of God.
Philippians 2:17-18- But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
In every thing I do, I want it to be a service to you to build you up in the faith of Jesus Christ. In no way, shape, or form, will I try to take advantage of you, try to get the things you own, or try to come in and catch you off guard. I am trying to benefit you in Jesus Christ in every single way. Whether it is a rebuke, kindness, or admonition, I will sacrifice and lay down my life in every single way that I can. But that doesn’t mean I can meet all your expectations. I may not always have the time to give you the attention you need. You might call me and I might not be able to return your phone call, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t return anybody’s phone calls or I don’t want to lay down my life, it is quite the opposite. If I begin to lay down my life and this body begins to grow, my time will have to be very structured. I will have to hear from the Holy Spirit who to call and who not to call. If one individual thinks they are slighted, they will become offended if they don’t understand the nature of my heart. There is only so much I can do in one day. That is not to say you can’t call or page me. You have to understand and see my heart. I want the calls and the pages. I want to lay down my life to serve you in every single way that I can. However, it is just not possible to meet all the expectations that people lay before me.
Philippians 2:18- So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
I want you to be excited about the fact that God has called me to be a drink offering in your life. I rejoice in that! Please understand that I want you to call or contact me. I am excited to be here. God has put me through some trials and sufferings, and has done a major job of breaking me for the whole purpose of serving you. That is why I am in this place. If not, then I shouldn’t be in a position of leadership. I’m not boasting, I am just saying this is where he has put me and I am excited about being here. This is the whole reason I have waited on the Lord for 14 years. This is what I have longed to do and you should rejoice in the same thing. You should be excited about that fact, so drink all you want to drink. Call me. Bug me. I might say that I don’t have time to talk to you. I might say that I have to devote myself to somebody else, but understand that in my heart I am moving wherever I can and where I need to be as the Lord directs. Pray that I have wisdom.
Exodus 18:5-6- Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the desert, where he was camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”
Jethro came to Moses because he didn’t come out of Egypt with Moses. Moses was camped near the mountain of God. Moses was close to God and saw God face to face. Moses was a leader of leaders, wasn’t he? Now I want you to read what unfolds here.
Exodus 18:7- So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent.
Jethro brought Moses’ family with him. One thing that I will not do is sacrifice my family, though I have to hear from the Lord when to have time with them. One reason God boxed me in for the last 14 years with nothing to do was because I had two sons to raise in the Lord. How many pastors do you know whose kids are the worst kids in the church? It is because these men don’t listen to the Holy Spirit and they sacrifice their kids for the sake of numbers or the congregation. It is no coincidence that God, in his timing, when my children were almost grown, allowed us to press on to other work. Jethro came with Moses’ family and he was concerned about Moses and all the demands that were placed upon him.
Exodus 18:8-17- Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them. Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God. The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.” Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.”
Think about who this man was. He didn’t come out of Egypt with them, did he? He didn’t go through any of the trials. He was not a part of Moses’ life in that process. He sat safely at home. He wasn’t in a position of leadership. There were thousands of men in Israel yet nobody else offered this advice to Moses.
Exodus 18:17- Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”
We desperately need crucified men in this church. If you think I want to be the only man in charge, you are a fool.
Exodus 18:19- Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.
Moses was humble enough to listen to this man. He didn’t get it from anyone else. He didn’t get it from another Christian. He got it from an outsider, but he listened.
Exodus 18:19-23- Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the peoplemen who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gainand appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.
Jethro saw the frustration that took place. The people came with their disputes and questions, and Moses tried to answer all the questions, but nobody had their needs completely met. Moses couldn’t possibly meet all their needs and no one was satisfied with that situation. Now the question is, why didn’t God tell Moses this directly? Because God is interested in us fellowshipping with one another and being humble enough to take counsel and submit to each other. Look at Jethro’s attitude. He recognized the good that Moses did, but Moses was missing something. He shared all good things with his teacher, while he was also giving him counsel. Be sure to share all good things and point out what you are learning. Be excited about it. Be joyful that I am willing to lay down my life and then come with your counsel, direction, and ideas. Don’t be so offended if I don’t take every idea that you bring. We will seek the Lord’s will together. But you have to lay down your expectations if you are to go home fully satisfied.
Exodus 18:24- Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.
Let us pray for godly leadership. We desperately need it.
5. Say it to my face.
If you have a problem with the message, the application, my tone of voice, or you don’t like my tie, treat me as you would want to be treated and tell me to my face. Would you like me to go around the congregation and talk about you? Would you like me to say one little snide remark to someone else and just let it spread around until it gets back to you? Would I sit back all smug and say, “Well, that’s not what I said, it has just been exaggerated”?
Matthew 18:15-16- If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
The same procedure applies to leadership.
Matthew 18:17- If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
If someone has already been talking or starting to complain to other people, then you need to stop immediately and deal with the situation. Ask the person, “Have you talked to the person you have the problem with? Have you gone to them face to face? If you can’t resolve it, then take someone else with you.” Many things aren’t even worth discussing, but we like to complain and whine about things. God is trying to say there is much more to be done than taking care of minor details. This is something I can preach 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and many times it still will not sink in.
Hebrews 12:15- See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
You must to have a “see to it” attitude. When someone says to you, “I just didn’t like the way so-and-so said that.” Your response should be, “Did you tell them to their face?” Look at them and say, “You need to take care of it now. First talk to them and then come back to me.” There has to be some action to make sure things do not get out of hand. After that, I check with them three days later and ask, “Did you go talk to them?” If they say, “No.” Then I say, “You need to go and confess your sin for not talking to them.” We have to “see to it” that it is dealt with, because a bitter root is the slyest thing going. It is sinister in its nature and deadly in its destruction. Think of a root that grows underground. If it hits a rock, it goes around it. Someone who has a bitter root will find the weakest spot in your character and pretty soon you are defiled and you have defiled the whole body. There has to be a “see to it” attitude because the body will miss the grace of God if that is missing.
Hebrews 12:15- See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
These two things are tied together. If Satan can divide our relationship, then he has won. We must fellowship together in the Lord and grow in righteousness. If he can plant one little suspicion, whether minor or big, it separates our fellowship and he has won. He will succeed. The last thing he wants is a group of people who are united in Jesus Christ, living for the gospel, and picking up their crosses. Please understand, the last thing he wants is for people to pick up their crosses. We will all struggle at times, and that is when he will whisper in your ear. Everybody will not like my tone or the way I respond to him or her. When I rebuke them they may say, “I don’t think that was fair or right.” They will discuss it with others. We must have an attitude that stands in front of the person and says, “You get in that person’s face and discuss it with them.” I taught my kids this when they were very small. We sat around the dinner table and they started talking about somebody and I would say, “Did you tell them?” Guess how many conversations that stopped? It is not important or if it is that important then you need to get it dealt with. Everyone needs to “see to it” or we will miss the grace of God. A bitter root grows underground, unseen, and undetected and suddenly it shoots up with its fruit. You may think you know the source of the problem, but it could be something entirely something different. It could even be something as simple as a discussion about someone’s mannerisms and then someone else hears it, and they keep going until it defiles everyone. I remember when I was a very young Christian, I visited with someone in prison and all he did was spend the hour we had together bad-mouthing my youth pastor. I knew everything he told me was 100% false and I didn’t buy into any of it, I just listened. The next day I started to hate my youth pastor. I finally had to go and confess to him and say, “You know, I hate your guts and I don’t know why.” I sat there and listened to the prisoner for an hour and I didn’t tell him to shut up. I was stupid enough not to tell him to stop and talk about something important in Jesus Christ, namely his sins. I learned that this is far more sinister than we realize. If you know the person is lying to you and you don’t deal with it as God says to deal with it, they will defile you. When you hear people whining about the message, you need to tell them to call me and bring their concerns to my face. I guarantee they are talking to other people who are being defiled. When we have bitter roots, we don’t stop until we find as many people as we can to agree with us.
I’m not trying to scare you, but I’m trying to get our hearts pure because this applies to everyone, not just leadership. You must understand the nature of leadership. Everyone is watching my life, how I dress, my mannerisms, and everything I do. I do not mind because it makes me accountable to everyone. It puts me in the light and under the fire.
Jude 1:14-15- Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
These are men who discuss the finest issues in Jesus Christ but only from a harsh attitude. They don’t want the answers; they just want confirmation that they are correct. What does it lead to?
Jude 1:16- These men are grumblers and faultfinders
So often when we are in sin and struggle with something, we immediately begin to look for faults in other people or in the person who rebukes us. It is a natural reaction; it’s our character. Understand and be wise then in the body of Christ. If God will deal with sin, people will start to accuse the leadership first. So be intelligent about what goes on. Realize that brothers and sisters need help to deal with the sin in their lives. Don’t take all the complaints the body has about leadership, pile it on the pastor and say, “Deal with all of these.” Besides, if God calls some of you men into leadership, it will be your turn, so it is best you set the precedent now about how sin is dealt with.
Jude 1:16- These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
Some people come in looking for faults in order to make themselves look good. Now if you want to discover any faults, I have them, so there is no need to look for them. If you want to know my faults, that’s fine, but just ask me and I’ll save you some time. The point is if you find a fault, we will both repent together. You will not find perfection in me, but you will find it in God who is holy.
Acts 20:30- Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
It doesn’t say they will lie about the truth. There are men who do that, but the men in this passage rise up to distort just enough of what’s said to cause people to leave and have bitter attitudes. Now look at the attitude toward this in the following passage.
Acts 20:31- So be on your guard!
It is a “see to it” attitude and it requires action. You cannot have an attitude that lays back and waits for it to happen. We have to move forward and say, “We will make sure it doesn’t happen here,” if we want a body that is protected and men who can lead.
Acts 20:31- Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
This is no minor thing. If we want to grow in Jesus Christ and have a body that can see its sin, if we want leadership that is of God, then we have to be on guard night and day. Let’s proclaim, “It will not happen here. I will not tolerate bad attitudes. I will not tolerate wicked men getting their way.” The cross is a difficult thing for a man to allow in his life, isn’t it? His first reaction is to complain and whine. So we should expect it, and have the intelligence and spirituality to deal with that reality.
All of this is important regarding rebuking leadership, because we have to watch our attitude. We have to ask ourselves, “Am I really concerned with the leadership’s righteousness and holiness, or do I want to find fault in order to justify myself?”
Exodus 4:29-30- Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people.
Did you know that God gave a small preview of coming attractions to the Israelites? He showed them what was to take place. What does it say about the people in verse 31?
Exodus 4:31- and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
Such a holy people and righteous people, are they not? They are so awed by the majesty of God. They had prayed and hoped for a deliverer. In fact, hope had disappeared and so they bowed down in total humility saying, “Thank you Lord for what you are bringing. We worship you. You are holy because you care about us.” So Moses demonstrated what God would do. The plan was laid out, the doors were opened, and they knew exactly what would happen. Look at what went on here and how fast God moved. Look at Exodus 5 and we will see that their attitude changes.
Exodus 5:19-21- The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said,
What? “May the Lord bless you and keep you and thank you for all of this?” No.
Exodus 5:21- May the LORD look upon you and judge you!
Initially they exalted, accepted, and were joyful, about how Moses was so grand. Yet when God began to work their deliverance guess what? It didn’t go quite according to plan, or quite as fast as they desired. God tried to deal with their flesh and the first person they whined against was not God, but the leadership. They came out in the Lord’s name and said, “May the Lord judge you and deal with you!” Our human, sinful nature must be crucified. I will preach a message that will irritate your flesh, and you will grab hold of all the good things in God. At first you’re excited about God working, then he seeks to crucify you and things don’t go quite the way you expected. Who will you judge first: yourself or the leadership? This was a problem Moses never overcame. The people never did overcome this and it cost them the Promised Land. They never could rejoice in the cross. One person started grumbling about it and it went throughout the whole camp. “The message is too hard. It’s too narrow.” I know it’s a normal reaction and we want to give up at times. We must say, “Enough! The flesh will not get its way. We will let God be God. I won’t allow other people to whine around me. They won’t complain about the cross. They will go on and die or they will leave.” It’s that simple. If you tolerate people’s complaining all you will do is destroy everything God wants to work.
Exodus 5:21- May the LORD look upon you and judge you!
What a thing to say! Moses came to lay down his life for them. He didn’t want to leave them even at the first sign of difficulty yet they wanted him judged!
Exodus 5:21- You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us
They were so wicked.
Exodus 5:22- Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?”
Look at the reaction that it caused in Moses. Submit to those in authority for that is of benefit to you. Rejoice always in the Lord. Paul told us it is a safeguard. When leadership constantly hears whining and complaining they tend to think, “Forget it. Why did you bring us here? Is this why you brought us here for this kind of misery? I could have stayed home. I didn’t have to come here and endure this.” They sinned before the Lord. Eventually, cost Moses the Promised Land. They complained about not having water and he was so irritated that he took matters into his own hands and it cost him. Is this the path we want to walk? I have been there. I have done this before in the past.
Exodus 5:22- Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?”
Moses was so darkened that he thought God only sent him to cause trouble to these people.
Exodus 5:23- Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.
Praise God for his mercy. He totally ignored what Moses had to say at this point. Later on, God wouldn’t be so kind because Moses should have learned. I understand when a person first gets the message of the cross and they go through all the pain, whining, and complaining about the leadership. I understand, I truly do. But you have to grow up. You have to get to a place to say, “No more. It will stop. I won’t whine about it. I will get on to allow God to do what he has called us to do.” Otherwise, God’s work will be destroyed in the very process. Deliverance will never take place. We must “see to it” that bitter attitudes are not presented against leadership.
Exodus 17:1-2- The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”
Every single time they hit a hardship, every time God came against their flesh, and tried to deal with them, they whined against Moses. They complained about the message, where God was leading them, and what he was doing with them. Every single time! I plead with you not to complain, because it will destroy the work. I have seen it happen. The smallest of comments from someone that are not dealt with can cause serious destruction. It doesn’t mean you can’t object or voice a concern or question; please understand that needs to be there. However, when it comes from a bitter attitude or a bitterroot that keeps holding on to a sin in your life, it will destroy many, many, people. Leadership will have to spend its time constantly dealing with one bitter attitude after another because there are not enough people in the body who stand up and say, “Enough!” There are not enough men in leadership who stand up with some courage and say, “It will cease.” All you do is spend your time spinning your wheels, walking around in the desert, and never going where God wants you to go. You don’t get to the Promised Land, so you stand back and say, “Our leadership never brought us to the promised land.” And it’s true, they never did. We want to blame the leadership every single time.
6. Pray for me and pray for those in leadership.
What right does a man have to come and complain and ask questions if he has not hit his knees and prayed hard?
Hebrews 13:18- Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.
If you are convinced of that fact, great! But if you are not, then move on. Pray, because I will make mistakes or a bad judgment. I pray that it never happens, but some people act like they want me to sin so they can feel better. They want me to make a mistake. Oh, that’s a real benefit to everybody. I’ll just go out and sin so we can all feel more comfortable. Or, let’s make a bad decision about something the body should do. Would that make us all feel better? I would rather have us press on to success and do something powerful, so pray to God saying, “Lord, don’t let Tim ever make a mistake in anything. Let him have every single answer that we are supposed to have. Give him all the wisdom we need. Give us everything that is necessary for our benefit.” Do you want me to be ignorant? If God listened to our complaints and whining, he would say, “I will bless your leaders with ignorance. I will give them soft messages and they won’t deal with any sin in your life.” If that is what you’re after, that’s what he will give you. Some of you have had that in the past, I don’t know why you want it in the future. There will be a lot of decisions to make and a lot of ways we’ll need to test and understand God’s will. There will be a lot of traps Satan will bring and a lot of people who will oppose this message. This is extremely difficult and beyond any wisdom or righteousness that I could contain. I must have your prayers and anyone in leadership will need those kinds of prayers. When we talk about rebuking leadership, let this be our attitude. This isn’t a freedom to say, “I get to rebuke you.” I don’t have that attitude with the congregation. I don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I am so excited. I get to rebuke a bunch of people in this body today.”
What will you do when I do sin or make a bad decision? Will it prove you right? Will you say you knew it all along? Is every evil suspicion you have heard from everyone else and even in your own heart you will say, “It’s confirmed. There is complete wickedness all the way down to the core”? What will you do? Because it will happen. I am not perfect, and I haven’t been in this position before. I don’t know how to lead in this manner. Scripture says that a man is tested by the praise given him. I have never been tested this way. This is serious business!
Joshua 9:1-2- Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things those in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Great Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites they came together to make war against Joshua and Israel.
Now look at the war they waged.
Joshua 9:3-8- However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. The men put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.” The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us. How then can we make a treaty with you?” “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua. But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”
He used all of his intellect and examined everything.
Joshua 9:9- They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the LORD your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt.”
Do you like people who use flattery?
Joshua 9:10-13- and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the JordanSihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ”Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, ‘We are your servants; make a treaty with us. This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.’“
Verse 14 says they made a mistake. They sinned. They failed. Joshua, a man of valor, one of the few people of the original group to go into the Promised Land sinned.
Joshua 9:14- The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.
What will you do when that happens? Pray that it never happens, but what if it did? Look, if someone else wants to lead, come on up here and show us how it’s done.
Joshua 9:15-18- Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath. Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the LORD, the God of Israel.
The whole assembly grumbled against the leadership.
Joshua 9:18-The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the LORD, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now.”
What would our reaction be? We would leave and say “Forget it, I’m out of here!” Pray for your leadership because it’s not beyond hope. I’m not talking about drastic sins like committing adultery with fifteen people. We are talking about trying to serve the Lord and seek God, and it is a difficult thing to do.
Joshua didn’t pass the buck. He took the blame for it. Do you know what they did? The Israelites made the Gibeonites into servants. We will make mistakes and sin, but it’s not without hope. We can make our sins and mistakes serve us in the Lord. But what will you do when leadership fails? They will fail.
7. You will have to see the heart.
Understand that I have no land I don’t own a home. I have no savings account or a retirement plan. I have no health insurance. I don’t say this to boast, but to tell you to see the heart. I don’t run a business on the side. I have no desire to run a business on the side. I only have one single motive and that is to serve you in Jesus Christ. I want to be what I need to be in Jesus Christ so that you might be built up in him. Nothing would give me greater joy than to see everyone rising up, being strong in the Lord, and not needing me at all. For he is holy and he is worthy.
Numbers 18:20- The LORD said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land…”
I have never understood pastors who have their homes, land, retirement programs, and businesses on the side. They like being away from the church. Where is the labor, love, and the heart for the people? You can’t serve both the world and your congregation at the same time. It’s all or nothing. Yes, Paul was a tentmaker, but the first thing he did when he had supplies was stop working.
Numbers 18:20- …nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.
I’m not after your things or a building. I’m not after anything in God except that he is glorified. Now I can’t predict the future and if someone says to me, “What if you fall into sin?” I don’t know, I may. Pray! Pray that I don’t. Of what benefit is that to you if I do? Over the last 20 years I’ve been in many different situations. I have always given away things for free. I have been in a congregation where there were only women and I have never committed sexual immorality. I have been tested in everything as God prepared me to be here. I have heard all the excuses, whining, and grumbling and have been accused of everything you can possibly think of. I have seen the effects of a bitter root. I have tasted its bitterness. I am not after your possessions.
It’s sad that I even have to preach this. Paul had to do the same thing. It is so ironic that you don’t think those who come in to take your possessions are up to something sinister. But you think the man who doesn’t come in to take your possessions is after something. You think something is behind the scenes, but you just can’t put your finger on it. But the guy who is out in the open, who shakes you down for the offering, and demands and preaches it, is fine! But the guy who doesn’t take the offering or doesn’t force it from your pockets is up to something! I’m at the mercy of whoever supplies my needs even for the place I live. I preach in such a way that people won’t always like me, correct? So I never know when I might be out on the street. I have not compromised in over 20 years. I have never changed the message or altered what I’ve said. I have been alone many times and I will be alone again if necessary. I will not budge from the truth. I cannot do anything contrary to the truth.
2 Corinthians 12:14-18- Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you because what I want is not your possessions but you.
That is my goal. I will expend everything for you, because what I want is not your possessions, but you! I want to fellowship with you. So it is absurd to say, “Can you rebuke leadership?” Yes! Come into my living room, sit down, and we’ll wrestle it out. Complain! Whine! Let’s get to a place of righteousness and holiness.
2 Corinthians 12:14- After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.
I am in debt. I am poor because I am poured out for other people. I have done everything I can do. I have nothing left to spend. I have no savings. I have no large bank account. To purchase the camcorder that we just bought, I used a charge card. I will pour out everything I have in order to accomplish what is necessary. We have a deaf minister coming all the way from Michigan and I’ve poured out my life to say, “Come, I will give everything I have for you.” We don’t even have it ourselves and I’m promising him more! I will gain nothing from all of this, only that God might be glorified and some people might be reached. Some deaf people who have never heard the message and are not ministered to will now have the opportunity.
2 Corinthians 12:15- So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.
We want to complain and whine about small things.
2 Corinthians 12:15- If I love you more, will you love me less?
This is so ironic. Paul poured out his life and they loved him less. But the super apostle is flattered. The man who takes advantage is loved more.
2 Corinthians 12:16- be that as it may,
He said it didn’t matter. Fine, if that’s your attitude, I will still continue to love you.
2 Corinthians 12:16- I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!
I’m so sly. I came in so holy spending everything I had. I’m so sneaky about all of this. It’s time to get on with the work.
2 Corinthians 5:12-14- We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
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.