3 Leadership Lessons from Jeremiah

One of my favorite things to study and talk about is leadership. That is why part of my blog is dedicated to the category of leadership. As I read through Scripture, I try to look for Biblical leadership principles that I can apply to my own life and share with others. Recently I wrote a blog called “3 Leadership Lessons from Jude” that received great feedback. I recently started studying the book of Jeremiah and right from the start I saw a few leadership lessons I wanted to share.

Before I jump into them let’s talk a little about the person of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet God called to announce judgement on God’s people because of their sin and disobedience. Jeremiah is often called the “weeping prophet” (Jer. 9:1; 13:17). For more than 40 years Jeremiah faithfully proclaimed God’s judgement. Jeremiah was truly a great leader and it would do leaders today to follow his example. With all that being said, here are three leadership lessons from the opening verses of the book of Jeremiah:

1. God has called leaders before they were even born. In verse 5 of chapter 1, it says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” Before leaders are even born, God has already called them to lead. As a leader, it is encouraging to know God not only has chosen me to be one of His elect, but has chosen me to be a leader! If you are in leadership and you struggle with wondering if your actually called to do what you’re doing, remember God knew you and called you before you were even born into this world!

2. God usually calls younger people to be leaders. I am not suggesting that God does not call older people to lead, but what I am saying is that most great leaders are called at a younger age. We see this in verses 6-7 of Jeremiah 1. God calls Jeremiah and what is Jeremiah’s response? He says, “I am only a youth.” According to the Ryrie Study Bible, Jeremiah was likely in his late teens or early twenties at this time! That should encourage you younger leaders! In the following verse, God tells Jeremiah not to respond that way because He is with him! Throughout the Bible we see that God usually calls younger people to be great leaders. In his book Raising the Bar, Alvin Reid points out two important things that are helpful to mention here. First, Old Testament examples such as Joseph, Samuel, and David show us that God calls and uses younger people to be leaders. Second, Reid points out that Jonathan Edwards, in his treatise called Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England, says, “The work has been chiefly amongst the young…” Did you catch that? Edwards clearly says that the First Great Awakening was carried out by mostly the young! Reid says it best, “When God begins a new movement of His Spirit, He often uses young people at the heart if it.” One more example of God calling the young. It is likely that the disciples where just teenagers as they walked with Jesus and went into their ministry of changing the world. There is too much to say about that here, so click here to read a post that will explain why many believe the disciples were just teenagers.

3. God will equip those that He calls. Often leaders don’t feel equipped or qualified to do what God called them to do. It is likely that is what Jeremiah felt when he told God, “I am only a youth.” God responds to that and reminds Jeremiah, and us, that He equips those He calls. In verses 7b-9 we see that God tells Jeremiah He will send him, He will be with him, and He will put His Words in his mouth. See, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called! None of us are equipped to do anything for God, but when God calls us He gives us everything we need to carry out what He has called us to do. When I worked at Skyview Ranch the camp director said this, “God will never lead you where He will not sustain you.” Leader, God has called you to lead and He will sustain and equip you to do exactly what He wants you to do!

I hope these lessons are encouraging to you. Leadership is hard and down right discouraging at times, but God has called us to lead for a reason. Allow these lessons from His Word to encourage you today!

3 Leadership Lessons from Jude

Recently I studied through the book of Jude in my personal devotions. Jude, one of the smallest books in the Bible, often gets overlooked, but it is amazing what you find in this little book if you take the time to read through it. The theme of Jude is best stated in the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible. The HCST Study Bible says, “Jude wrote to urge believers to contend for their faith.” It also says, “Jude sought to protect Christian truth and strongly opposed heretics who threatened the faith.”  During the time of Jude writing this book, false teachers crept into the church and was distorting Christian truth as well as denying Christ (Jude 4).

As I read through Jude I started to see a few very important leadership lessons that should help us as church leaders today. I want to share the main three that I saw and hope they encourage you to be a better and more Biblical leader as they did for me.

1. Humility is the key to being a good leader. in the opening verse of Jude, Jude introduces himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” What is so interesting about this is the fact that Jude could have simply introduced himself as a brother of Jesus. We know he could have done this because he calls himself a brother of James who was a brother of Jesus as well (Mark 6:3). By introducing himself as a servant of Christ rather than a brother of Christ, Jude showed being humble and showing humility was more important than his position. In leadership, we often think confidence and often times pride is the way to go, but true leadership happens when you are humble and realize you’re a servant of the one true leader, Christ!

2. It’s easy to look like a good leader, but not actually be a good leader. If you look at verses 12-13 in the book of Jude, you see that the false teachers were involving themselves within the church and it’s activities. Not only involving themselves, but actually taking leadership positions. In these verses Jude says that even though they are in the position of leaders, they really were not true leaders. Verse 12 says, “…shepherds feeding themselves, waterless clouds…fruitless trees…” It’s possible to be in a leadership position and not truly be a leader. A church leader must feed other as well as themselves, they must bear fruit as well as every other Christian must, and they should be serving others. This section of Jude is extremely scaring to me because I never want to be found as a leader who was just in the position, but not actually being a true leader.

3. A good leader must build himself up spiritually as well as building others up spiritually. One hard part of being a church leader is learning how to growing spiritually yourself as well as helping others grow spiritually as well. If we spend all of our time growing ourselves, we will neglect the growth of others. If we spend all of our time growing others, we will neglect growing ourselves. It’s a delicate balance we all must figure out. In verse 20, Jude turns his attention away from dealing with false teachers to dealing with how believers should live in response to everything he has already said. Jude tells believers to build themselves up in their faith, pray in the Spirit, keep themselves in the love of God, and wait for the Lord’s return. All of these things carry the idea of believers giving themselves to spiritual disciplines and living out a consistently walk with God. It is important for leaders to dedicate themselves to their own spiritual growth before others. But Jude then makes it clear you must focus on others spiritual needs as well. He says we must have mercy on those doubting, witness to others to save them from eternal separation from God in hell, and reach out to those who are extremely messed up in sin while being careful. Biblical leaders must serve others spiritually while they themselves are growing spiritually.

I hope these simple leadership lessons help you become a better leader. The church today is in need of good, Biblical leaders and I hope we look at Scripture to find out how we can be those kind of leaders. Leadership is one of my passions and I recently wrote a blog called “Why I am Studying Leadership in Seminary” that is worth taking a look at.

Why I Am Studying Leadership in Seminary

In a few weeks I will start my first set of seminary classes with Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. I will be working on a Master’s of Art in Religion with a specialization in Christian Leadership. As I was praying and planning for seminary I knew I wanted to pursue a Master’s of Arts in Religion degree, but was not sure what I wanted to specialize in. Liberty allows you to choose a specific specialization when you take the Master’s of Arts in Religion. With so many to choose from I was torn between discipleship and leadership because I know they both will be important in life-long ministry. My undergrad youth professor, Shean Phillps, took the discipleship classes at Liberty and implemented several of the books and things in our undergrad youth classes. Because of this I decided to go with the specialization in leadership.

A few weeks ago I was playing golf with some of my friends and my friend Mark asked my why I decided to specialize in Christian leadership in seminary. A few others have asked me the same thing so I decided to share the two main reasons I feel God has directed me to specialize in Christian leadership in seminary.

Everything rises and falls in leadership. I have heard this saying many times and believe it is extremely true. I believe that a successful ministry can always be traced back to good leadership. Show me a growing, dynamic church and I will show you a good leader. Show me a growing, dynamic student ministry and I will show you a good leader. The church today is in need of well-trained, wise, and Biblical leaders! Most ministries fall apart because of poor leadership. I have also heard it said that if you want to measure the spiritual temperature of a church or a student ministry than measure the spiritual temperature of its leaders. The spiritual temperature of the leaders will dictate the spiritual temperature of the people under them.

I believe God has gifted me and equipped me to work in a large church setting. I am encouraged by mega-churches who are doing it right and hope one day I can serve in a large church. One of my mentors, Brian Baker, has pointed out this gifting and equipping in my life as well. I doubt I will land a ministry job in a large church at first since I’m fresh out of college, but believe I will one day in the future. In larger church, leadership is huge! That is one reason I am specializing in Christian leadership. When you lead a ministry, for example a student ministry since that is what I am pursuing, you spend more time training and building a leadership team rather than you alone focusing on the students. In the book The Greenhouse Project, Ric Garland, the director of Word of Life Local Church Ministry, says that one person can only effectively disciple five to six people. In a large church, a student pastor cannot disciple each student. He must train leaders and build a leadership team to carrying out his passion and desire for student ministry.

You are a leader everywhere. John Maxwell says leadership is influence. Wherever you effectively influence people, you are a leader. I know God has called me to be a leader in the local church, but also know God has called me to be a leader to my wife, children, and anything else He decides to put me over. I believe my study of Christian leadership in seminary will help me be a Godly, Biblical leader inside and outside the local church. In a culture where leaders are falling left and right due to immorality and lack of character, we need good leaders. The church needs them. The world needs them. Our culture desperately needs them!

These are two of the main reasons I feel like God has directed me to specialize in Christian leadership in seminary. At the end of this degree I have the option of rolling it into a M.Div. (Master’s of Divinity) and getting that degree as well. I am not sure if I will do this because I’m not sure what my life will look like in a few years. Either way, I am grateful for the undergrad education God has allowed me to receive and privileged to be able to work on a Master’s for the next few years.

My Thoughts on Joe Paterno

If you have been watched Sportscenter in the past few days or have kept your eye on major news channels you have seen the situation going down at Penn State University. If you have not, here is a summary of the situation. A former coach who served under Joe Paterno at PSU named Jerry Sandusky has been sexually abusing young boys since the early 90’s. It seems the news is just breaking and now he is being charged with sexual abuse with about 20 of those incidents happening while he was at PSU. You may be asking, how does coach Paterno fit in to all this? He knew about it! He failed to report it to authorities and rather protect himself and the program rather than the young boys who were abused. Because of Paterno knowledge of the events, he is no longer the coach at PSU.  Joe Paterno’s head coaching career at PSU began on Sept. 17, 1966 and this was his 46th season at PSU. As I have been watching reports of this story and seeing people’s response on social networks, two initial thoughts have been racing through my head. From every horrible situation, like this one, we can learn valuable lessons for the future. Here are two of those lessons we can learn from Joe Paterno:

Silence is approval. I first heard this catching little phrase on a leadership retreat back in high school. I must admit, most of the time this seemed more like a clever “Christian” phrase rather than a real-life principle. Now that I apply it to a real situation, like the Paterno’s situation, I see how true it is. Paterno may have not committed the sexual abuse or even agreed with it, but he kept it silent which makes him just has guilty as doing it. I know that was a harsh statement and some people might think it was too harsh, but let’s be honest, Paterno knew of young boys being sexually abused and he did not do anything about it. This world needs men who will stand up and not be silent about wrong doings, but will stand up for what is right!

Responsibility comes with leadership. Leadership is influence. If you have infuence over people, you are a leader. It is evident Paterno is a leader. Just look at the reponse of the students as they riot on the streets because of his leave from the head coaching position. Paterno has been a leader to many young men on the football field as well as to the PSU family. With this great leadership comes great repsonsibility. As a leader, you must be “above approach” the Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:2. There shouldnt be anything that should cause people to think differntly of you or cause you to be knocked out of your leadership position. I know we all mess up and no one is perfect, but as a leader you must strive to be above all wrong and protect your position because you have influence over people! Paterno should have realized his position and influence when he heard about the sexual abuse and reported it asap. Doing this would show he truly cares about the people abused and that he wanted to show people, as a leader, what the right thing is.

This are just my initial thoughts on the situation. As the story develops they may change or be tweaked, but for now these are my thoughts. Walt Mueller, a leader in the student ministry world, posted a great blog post about this situation as well. You can read that here. Learn from this situation, don’t follow the mistakes of others. What are your thoughts on the Paterno situation? What other lessons can we learn from this? I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

A very helpful book on this subject would be Character Counts by Charles Dyer. Click here to see the book and order it for a great price from Amazon.

Recommended Leadership Resources

I decided to add a new category of blogs called “Leadership.” I have a deep desire to become a better leader and I believe the church is in desperate need of good Biblical leaders. I am actually starting a master’s degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary this January in the area of Christian leadership. You don’t have to pursue a degree to become a better leader, but you do have to take the time to learn and studying the idea of leadership. I wanted to share three leadership resources that have helped me in the area of leadership and I believe they can help you too.

The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. This by far is one of the best leadership podcast I have ever listened to. They update it about once every few weeks and every podcast is extremely helpful in the area of leadership. What is really good about this leadership podcast is that it does not focus only on local church leadership. Many leadership podcasts deal with leadership within the church, but this one does not. We need good Christian leadership in “secular” circles and workplaces as much as we need them in the church. If you are a Christian and are in leadership in a “secular” circle I would highly recommend this podcast for you. You can go here to download this podcast.

Perry Noble Leadership Podcast. For some of you the moment you read the name “Perry Noble” you already shot this resource down. I understand Perry Noble and Newspring Church has done some things many of you would not, but that does not mean God is not using Perry Noble and his church to advance God’s kingdom. We can learn something from everybody, even people who use different methods than we do. Please don’t turn this great resource down because you don’t agree with Perry Noble. I have been listening to this podcast every month when they update it and every time God uses it to teach me more about Biblical leadership. This podcast focuses more on leadership within the local church so I highly recommend this podcast to anyone in local church leadership. Out of all the three resources I am sharing in this blog, this is the top one for me. You can download this podcast here.

Minute with Maxwell. I came across this leadership resource a few days ago and so far it has been extremely beneficial. This resources is a daily e-mail that contains a one-minute video of John Maxwell sharing a leadership principle with you. I subscribe about five days ago and so far every “Minute with Maxwell” has been very helpful. This is a great source for leaders both within the local church and outside the local church. The fact that this is a John Maxwell resource should be enough for you to jump on it! You can go here to subscribe and start to receive your daily “Minute with Maxwell.”

I recommend that you at least start using one of these resources to help you become a better leader. Our churches, our world, and our families need good, BIblical leaders. God has and will use these resources to help us become those Biblical leaders this world needs.