Investing for Eternity

Investing for Eternity

Feb 22, 2013

Investing for Eternity

by Pastor John Pethel

Metro Atlanta, GA

Raising a leader builds a progression, builds more churches, and you learn along the way, too


Feat 3 2 suits


The Bible has so much to say about leadership: from Joseph’s integrity shown in his success in Egypt, to Moses heeding the advice of his father-in-law to delegate, to David being fearless in following God’s will before a giant, to the wisdom of Solomon, to the organization of Nehemiah, to the servant leadership of our Lord, to the frankness and direct approach of Paul.

In all these examples, we see that while God wants us to follow Him first and foremost, He also provides leaders who help and equip us to get there.

 Big goal, big fail

Raising, developing, and unleashing new leaders is one of the most difficult things to do in the church today. It is the topic of many books and conferences. Most seminaries require courses in leadership for their students.

Leadership is most certainly a buzzword in tons of Christian blogs and magazines. Yet, through all of this talk and hoopla, how many churches are actually applying the biblical principle of reproducing leadership?

In looking at the examples of discipleship in the Bible, it seems that one of the most important things that Christians (or Christian leaders) can do is to multiply themselves. Most people in today’s society strive to do this by attempting to have themselves in multiple places at the same time. This never works!

It makes much more sense to work with God on this. We need to encourage and equip those He has gifted to help serve and lead His church right where we are.

During the last six years of my pastorate, the most important—and one of the most enjoyable—things that I have been able to do is to invest time in others whom God has called into leadership. This was borne from my personal experience.

I was privileged to have a few great mentors come along on my journey who invested knowledge, wisdom, time, money, and emotions in my development as a pastor and leader. To this day, those mentors are still investing in my development, as well as my peers, and the congregations I have served.

Why is this difficult?

The reality of today’s church is that raising, developing, and unleashing new leaders is one of the most difficult things to make happen. There are a few reasons for that.

First, Satan does not want church leaders to proclaim the Kingdom of God. So he lies to them and convinces leaders that they can minister by and to themselves. He causes pride to become a stumbling block against raising a generation of selfless, Kingdom-centered leaders.

Second, low expectations have been placed upon church membership. The church has become so happy and satisfied with mere attendance that we have rarely required much else.

This leads to the third reason. Too high expectations have been placed on church leadership. Our biblical picture of church leadership from Acts 6 shows the apostles gathering other people to help so they didn’t neglect their ministry of prayer and proclaiming the Word.

The modern picture of church leadership has us struggling to get members to serve each other and our communities. This not only hampers the ministry of prayer and proclaiming the Word, but also has our members expecting the church leadership to do everything. A “consumer culture” is created where churches feel the need to cater to the perceived needs of members and/or community (youth groups, children’s ministry, worship shows, etc.) instead of their real need—Jesus.

Feat 3 2 leaders CLR

Who are the leaders of a church?

When looking at the passages of Scripture concerning church leadership, such as 1 Timothy 3, there is a clear indication of two offices of leadership in the New Testament church: pastor (or elder), and deacon.

Due to the importance of the local church as the agent of God’s Kingdom in the present age, and Seventh Day Baptists’ historical use of a covenant membership structure and congregational polity, I believe that a church member is also a level of leadership and responsibility in the local church.

Why more leaders?

Developing and discipling new and more leaders is of the utmost importance. The advancement of the Kingdom of God is at stake!

Leaders—leaders—should be raised, trained, taught, and guided to lead the mission of God, and not a program of the church. Programs, no matter how good they are, were not made to last forever. However, the Kingdom and reign of God through our Lord Jesus Christ will last for eternity.

As we disciple and train more leaders, they will acquire a culture of investing in and discipling others. The leaders that your church develops will develop more leaders. That is how movements are born.

If creating more local churches in more cities and countries is a priority for Seventh Day Baptists, then there is a need for more leaders. As we desire to advance the Kingdom of God with Gospel-centered SDB “embassies” planted all around North America and the globe, the equation is simple: More churches = More leaders.

A shared leadership

In the operation of the local church, one person was never meant to shoulder the burden of leadership. With varied gifts and different experiences, the leadership of the local church should be placed in the hands of biblically qualified people who will shepherd, guide, and administrate it toward the mission of God. Churches that have a shared leadership structure are poising themselves for the growth that God will bring them.

And perhaps the best reason for developing more leaders: Jesus did it. It was His example to invest in the leaders of His church. He chose them. He dedicated His teaching and ministry to His disciples, primarily.

Jesus did this because He knew He would have to leave someone to carry on and lead the mission to which He was entrusted. His concerted effort was found in developing a small group of men to develop more leaders.

Where are the leaders?

The leaders that need your investment are probably worshiping next to you every week. It is possible that they haven’t even started attending your church yet. They might be in the youth group, or at college, or in the senior citizen center.

Leaders for the local church should not be developed merely based on the length of their membership or their expertise in the marketplace. Our time and investment should be spent on those who have a passionate love for Jesus Christ and for His bride, the Church. Prayerfully consider the potential that God has given them and their spiritual trajectory.

Qualities for potential leaders can be demonstrated in competency, character, caring, and responsibility. Potential leaders can be taught many things but they cannot be taught the fruits of salvation as manifested through their integrity, character, and love for others.

Ask these questions

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when looking to invest in potential leaders:

•Is this person qualified biblically (above reproach, repentant, participatory, etc.)?

•Is this person teachable? Do they have a learning spirit? Do they strive to glorify Jesus in everything?

•Can they be entrusted to be faithful in little tasks? Do they ask for help/guidance when needed?

•Do they willingly serve others? Are they looking for ways to show the love of God to others?

 How do we develop leaders?

Leadership is lifelong learning—for both parties. One of the greatest things that happens to a leader who invests in the lives of others is that God teaches them through those they are mentoring.

The best way to develop leaders is to let them see what church leadership looks like through your perspective. Share your experiences with them. Let them participate in what you are doing.

Let them see how you handle the great successes that God brings to your church. Let them see how you handle mistakes when you make them.

Give those who will be leaders the opportunity to lead and learn and make mistakes while you are there. Let them do something. Let them fail. Let them try again.

Allow your leaders to learn from others besides yourself. There are so many things for us to learn from others. Pick people whom God has gifted and you admire, and spend the time to see how God made them into who they are.

And finally, brothers…

Encourage your leaders not just with praise but also with “constructive” feedback. Provide them with ways to evaluate and see the evidences of God’s grace in their life.

Your investment in raising more leaders will be an investment in eternity!


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