Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Spiritual Leadership 101: For Men

I want to start today’s post with a few quotes on leadership:

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.—Dwight D. Eisenhower
I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.-Ralph Nader
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. - Thomas Jefferson 
You don't lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Some of what I write here today may get me in a little trouble.  I’m sure there are those who won’t like some of the things I touch on in this post, but Richard Nixon once said, “If an individual wants to be a leader and isn't controversial, He never stood for anything.”  So this post will be on the topic of Spiritual Leadership:

Joshua 24:15 (NKJV)
24:15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Leadership Begins in the Home

This is Joshua, he’s declaring to all of Israel that his entire household will serve God.  He’s not saying as for me, I will serve the Lord.  He’s making the decision for his family. 

This takes place after the Promised Land has been conquered.  The Bible says they have been given rest from their enemies all around.   This is a time of peace, a time when they can take stock of the way they’re living their lives.

Joshua is like a true leader trying to move them into the Will of God here.  He’s trying to bring them all into the same understanding about God’s desire for Israel.  To do that he declares, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” 

There can really only be one leader.  It never works when there is more than one leader.  A committee can never get anything done quickly.  Even on the Board of Directors there is the chairman.  There can only be one leader, especially when it comes to spiritual leaders.  There can only be one leader.

In my house my wife and I are a united front when it comes to raising our children.  We work together, we discuss things, and we take the same stand.  If we disagree we discuss it in private away from the children, but there is only one leader in my house. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters.  Men, we are called to be spiritual leaders in our homes.  Someone once said, “Leadership is not making all the decisions; it’s seeing to it that the right person making the right decisions.”[i]

Look at this scripture:

Ephesians 5:22-25 (NKJV)
5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

Wives submit to your husbands, but first we must be submitted to Christ.  Jesus is the head of the church.  Our submission to each other comes out of our submission to Him.  We think of Jesus as our savior, and He is, but He’s more than just a savior.  He is also Lord; that means He is to be obeyed.  He commands us.  We are first submitted to the Lord, and secondly to each other.  Husbands love your wives; give yourself for her.  Wives submit to your husbands.  The Bible tells us why it is to be this way.

1 Timothy 2:12-14 (NKJV)
2:12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
God brought Eve to Adam, He said, “It is not good that man should be alone.  I will make a helper for him.”  A helper is not the leader.  That doesn't mean that men can give orders and demand responses.  It says, “Husbands love your wives.”  Love is not dictatorship.  This is what Love is:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)
13:4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
That’s the Biblical description of love.  This is how we love our wives.  So, men we’re leaders in a Christian home and as leaders WE will be held accountable for the spiritual direction of our homes.  We will be accountable for our children’s grounding in the word of God.

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

We will be accountable, and if we’re accountable then we need to be sure that our kids are where they can be grounded in the word of God and that’s in church. My children have been in church since they were born.  They were born on a Wednesday night and were in church the following Sunday.  They aren’t allowed excuses from church.  Church attendance is not negotiable in our house, because I know they won’t be sitting around reading their Bibles if left to themselves.

The idea is to impress upon them that church isn’t a social function; church is about worshipping God – Our LORD.  We will be accountable for our families’ spiritual well being; we are called to lead them into the will of God.  Our families are our greatest ministries.  It’s up to us to LEAD them in the right direction, to teach them to put God before anything else.

It’s easy for us to get caught up in al, the things we have to do.  Life is busy.  There are many, many things to do all the time.  It is also easy to listen to our friends and family members who aren’t saved and all their advice.  “You’re trying to do too much.  You’re kids need their sleep.  You’ll make yourself sick.  You’re spending too much time at that church.” 

When I was working and pastoring at the same time, my co-workers were always telling me that I was burning the candle at both ends.  “You’re out late every night and at work early every morning.  You’re going to burn yourself out.  You’re going to die.”  Guess what, I did that for eight years as a pastor and nine years before that as a disciple and I’m still here. 

Joshua, in making this declaration is saying he doesn’t care what other people think, he’s going to do what he thinks is right.  Joshua will lead his family.  He’s the spiritual leader in HIS house.

One last thing I’ll say to young unmarried people.  Young man if you’re in a courting relationship, you need to be willing to lead there, too.  You need to hold yourself to God’s standards in a love relationship.  You must stand for purity before marriage.  Don’t pressure her to sleep with you and don’t allow yourself to be seduced.  The Bible tells us to flee sexual immorality.  In sin, the blessing of God is removed from your relationship.  Give your marriage the best opportunity to succeed by saving the blessing of sex for after the marriage, as God intended.

It is absurd that a man rule others, who cannot rule himself. – Latin proverb.

Spiritual leadership in Ministry

This is another side of spiritual leadership:

1 Timothy 3:8-13 (NKJV)
3:8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
These are the qualifications for ministry in the church. Let’s break down what this says:

Reverent means to honor God – Do you fear God?

Not double-tongued; practice what you preach. – Say what you mean and mean what you say.

No drinking; not greedy.

Let them be tested.  I don’t just turn over ministry to anyone who hasn’t proven how he lives.  There is a waiting period for ministry in our church.  This is the time of testing.  “Let them be tested.”  We want to see how you live,.

1 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)
3:12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

This is statement that goes back to the last point, we must be leaders in our own home.  We need to rule our children well.  They need to be obedient.  We need to teach them to obey.

I’ve seen children in church that are a huge distraction:  Running up and down the aisles, screaming and throwing things.  I’ve even seen kids standing during worship service reading comic books.  We’re not teaching them reverence.

If they’re in song service they need to be a part of the worship.  If you allow them to do other things, you’re not teaching them to worship God.  You’re not teaching them to give God priority in their lives.  They will grow up and downplay the need to worship and the priority of worship and may even retreat from serving God altogether; and if they do, woe to you.

Luke 17:2 (NKJV)
17:2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

The Greek word in this scripture that is translated as offend means to cause to stumble: To cause to fall into sin.  We’re not teaching them reverence.  Some parents even want to leave their children with relatives because they’re disruptive, but that doesn’t teach them to reverent.  We have to teach our children self-control.

My father died when my children were two years old. (They’re twins.) My children were present at my father’s funeral.  After the service when we were greeting people, people marveled because they didn’t realize that the kids were there.  They sat quietly throughout the one and half hour service.  They were used to being in church.  They were used to sitting quietly, because they knew what would happen if they were disruptive in church.  They learned that…we taught them that.  We enforced right behavior, and this is the key – we were consistent.

This will make me real popular:  I see the wives in my congregation.  They’re exhausted and they’re frustrated because the kids are too much for them.  Sometimes I have asked the men, “Do you stand up for your wives when the kid’s misbehave, or do you make them the bad guy all the time? ‘Woman, teach your children. Can’t you teach your kids, right?’”  It’s not husband and parent; it’s parents.  You are just as responsible for your children’s teaching as she is.  Give your wives a break.  It’s not babysitting when they’re your own children…it’s parenting.  The Bible doesn’t say, “Let Deacons be the wives of one husband ruling her house well.”  According to the Bible MEN are accountable for their children’s behavior.

My kids weren’t perfect little angels, in fact, they still aren’t.  We were rebuked for things our children did and so we’d have to deal with it.  It only took a few discipline sessions, then they’d behave, but sometimes after a while they’d backslide.  So we would have to be consistent and do it again.  Children will always test limits.  So, you constantly have to enforce the limits.

Joshua’s Declaration

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  This is Joshua showing us the will of God.  This is Joshua showing men how to live.  You know, it’s funny:  Men always want to be in charge.  We always want to be the ones who do the thinking and get others to do the work…except when it comes to leading at home.  At home we want to go off and do work and let our wives deal with all the issues and enforce all the rules. 

Leadership is example.  I want my kids in church so I go to church EVERY TIME.  I want my children to learn to give so I give my tithes and offerings.  I want my family to know how important it is to be a part of God’s will so I’m involved in what our church is doing. 

The question is, “Do you think it’s important that your family serve God?  Are you concerned about their eternal souls?  Do you believe what we’re preaching and teaching?  If you do how can you not want them to grasp it?  God has a plan for you and your wife and your kids, and you are accountable to God for whether or not they live up to that plan.  You can stand there in joy when he asks about your children.  Or you can stand there and mourn, because you missed your opportunity to lead them into God’s plan. 

They will have to answer to God for their choices, but you will answer for whether or not the choices they made were informed choices. 


[i] Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations