Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Paul wanted desperately to challenge the Thessalonians regarding their lifestyle. He instinctively know the Law of Buy-In - that people buy in to the leader before they buy in to his words. Consequently, he reminds them of the model that he and Silas left them. He knows that example is always stronger than exhortation. So, before he exhortsthem to work hard, he reminds them of how hard his team had worked while among them (2 Thess. 3:7,8). Consider Paul's argument:
The Issue Paul's Example Paul's Exhortation
1. Discipline 1. We're not undisciplined (v.7) 1. Some are undisciplined (vv. 11,12)
2. Work 2. We worked hard (v.8) 2. No work, no food (v. 10)
3. Burdens 3. We weren't a burden (vv. 8,9) 3. Don't be a burden (vv. 11-13)
Godly leaders tend to have a strong passion and a deep optimism about the future. Their attitude springs from their sense of purpose and from the assurance of their ultimate destination.
The apostle Paul was just such a leader.
Paul led a Thessalonian church full of young believers who expected the soon and imminent return of Christ. Add to this expectation the persecution and hardship the church faced, and you might expect to find great confusion and anxiety. It got to the point where many of the Thessalonians not only stopped working, but attempted to thwart others from doing so.
Paul knew he needed to speak some sense to these erring brothers and correct some misperceptions about the second coming of Jesus. He told them that Christ wouldn't return until certain things had taken place, events that had not yet transpired. He also instructed them to continue working as though Christ would not return for a very long time.
Effective leaders have reason for Paul's kind of passion and optimism. They know that if Jesus returns tomorrow, all believers will share in the joy of being with Him in person. On the other hand, they know that if he tarries, believers have all the more time to work to bring others to Him. Who could ask for a better no-lose situation?
The "man of sin" (or the "son of perdition," 2 Thess. 2:3) will be an extremely influential leader with international fame. He will be powerful and prideful, and will usurp a divine place in the world. Other biblical texts call him the "AntiChrist" or the "Beast."
This evil leader reminds us that it is possible to be a great leader, but not a good one. God calls his leaders to be both great and good. Note why both great and good leadership is necessary:
Great Leadership Good Leadership
1. Has to do with our competence 1. Has to do with our character
2. Makes us effective in our work 2. Makes our work constructive
3. Enables our cause to progress 3. Enables us to choose the right cause.
4. Means we have good heads 4. Means we have good hearts
5. Ensures our skills will influence 5. Ensures our service will impact.
Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul; everyone needs it ans they perform better when they get it. Paul understood this fact, so in this letter he tells his friends how much he boasts about them all over Asia.
God leaders liberally hand out encouragement. It costs little to affirm others, yet pays great dividends. In this text Paul capitalizes on the power of encouragement and teaches us a few things along way. Encouragement should be ......
1. Personal (v. 3).
He told them personally how much he believed in them.
2. Pointed (v. 4).
He told them specifically what he appreciated about them.
3. Public (v. 4).
He told all his other churches how much he thought of the Thessalonians.
4. Purposeful (vv. 5, 6).
He had a goal he was shooting for in their lives - their motivation and vindication.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Lessons in Leadership
- Even followers who catch your vision need midcourse corrections and reminders.
- Leaders must communicate confidence and assurance.
- Good leaders practice reverse gossip: They applaud/affirm individuals behind their backs.
- Leaders who show the way succeed faster than ones who simply share the way.
As he closes his letter, Paul turns his attention to the future and the day of the Lord. Every leader can count on Christ's return as the one certain future event. Bacause of this, Paul casts vision for the future and communicates his convictions about this great event.
Like all good leaders, Paul understood the power of vision. He purposely closed this letter with encouraging words that would motivate his readers for years to come. He knew that when there is no hope for the future, there is no power in the present. By communicating his vision, Paul accomplished the following:
1. Comfort for those who had lost loved ones (4:13-15).
2. Assurance for those who believe (4:16-18).
3. Warning for those who might forget (5:1-5).
4. Direction for those who needed it (5:6-11).
If the Thessalonians were to win their city for Christ, they would have to commit themselves to excellence. They needed to lead a peaceful life, pay their bills, and work with integrity. When we gain the respect of others by leading our own lives well, we gain the opportunity to lead others.