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Leading Well

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2022 12:01 am

Leading Well

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 15, 2022 12:01 am

It is important for Christian leaders to be gifted, but their godliness is even more essential. Today, Harry Reeder joins Ligonier's president and CEO, Chris Larson, to discuss the qualities and character traits of effective Christian leadership.

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What does it mean to be a leader in the church? You bear the office. You uphold it.

You didn't come to this to get the title. You came to this to do the work of that ministry, the work of that leadership. And it's good to aspire to not the office, but to the work of the office itself. Leadership requires skill, boldness, bravery, and humility, among other qualities. There are qualities that are not easy to come by.

They must be fostered over time with diligence and sharp focus. Today on Renewing Your Mind, we return to our 2022 Ligonier Ministries National Conference and an interview that our president and CEO Chris Larson did with pastor and author, Dr. Harry Rieder. This session is to discuss Christian leadership, and I have been looking forward to this conversation ever since we planned it, not because of even just the topic, but being able to have this time to discuss with Dr. Harry Rieder. This subject area that he's written on in 3D leadership, but also something that he's modeled, something that he's also studied in terms of Christian leadership throughout the centuries.

We have some common heroes throughout history as well. And I think in this particular moment, Dr. Rieder, in which we're living, both in the ecclesiastical setting as well as the cultural milieu that we're inhabiting, leadership has been absent. And leadership seems to be the thing that we are needing most and what we're dying truly to have a leader come along and to bring life through true leadership.

What has created this vacuum in this particular moment? You know, interestingly, I go up to Dr. Lilbeck and I will do some tours on, it's called Faith and Freedom. And when we walk through Valley Forge, I do a talk on the three no's of George Washington that gave us our country. And then we go to the other places and get to sit and listen to Peter as we walk through the room that has the statues of all of the constitutional attendees and commissioners. And I walk through there and I look at those men, none of them perfect, all of them have feet of clay. But I go through and I think of all of the stuff that they did and the wisdom that they had and we had less than two million people in this country. Then we had another, at that time, about 900,000 that weren't even being counted as people and we lost all of their gifts and abilities through chattel slavery. And as I look at that, I say, we've got 360 million people. I look in that room and I try to imagine going to Washington and replicating that out of 360 million.

And I can't. I know there's some great leaders that we've got, but they're just absent. You know, I believe that, somebody asked me one time, are leaders made or born?

And my answer was yes. I think it's both. I mean, there's some families that just turn out leaders and I think it's not just DNA.

It's the environment of that family and what they do and how they do it. So I think the burden of my book was, right now, what I see happening is there's a loss of leadership. There's a lot of teaching of mechanisms to manipulate and control people in the name of leadership. But what we need in terms of instructional, aspirational and relational leadership, I just don't see it and I long for it and I long to see it and I long to see it produced. That's why I wrote the book, Defining, Developing and Deploying Leaders from the Church into the Church and from the Church into the World. We need to put leaders who are believers, who think Christianly with a gospel saturated piety as presidents of universities, in journalism, in business, in elected office so that we get statesmen again. We need to do that, but that's going to take some time for us to grasp the definition and communicate the definition of leadership to develop those leaders and you need the three-legged stool, a family, a school and a church. They have to be together. Amen.

So we have a lot of young people here and let's get into it. Let's define leadership and maybe even contrast it with management. It's not the same. Some people put those two things together, leadership and management, but they're different. They're both needed, but let's define leadership. Well, I think leadership is the ability to influence people to achieve a valued and honorable goal or mission. That's what I think leadership is.

It's the ability to influence people to achieve a worthwhile mission. So a leader, there's three things about a leader. A leader knows their mission and they are unalterably committed to achieving it.

Nothing's going to stop them. Secondly, a leader takes care of his people. Thirdly, a leader is always reproducing themselves. I mean, go look at the life of Jesus. How much time did he spend on the next generation of leaders?

Almost all of it. I mean, he would draw a wave, obviously, for his time with the Father on the mountain, and he would meet with the multitudes, but he was constantly, 70, 12, and 3, he was constantly working on them. So when he ascends, there's no vacuum. When David finishes, his purpose, three chief men and 30 mighty men. When Moses finishes, there's Joshua, there's Caleb, there's the elders of the church.

When Paul finishes, there's Timothy and Titus and Luke, et cetera, leading women. Those things, they have produced leadership, masculine and feminine leadership, and they have produced it and it's ready to go into place so there's not a vacuum. Great leaders are always reproducing themselves. Pretty much, except for, you know, except for the matters of privacy, anything you do by yourself, you've just wasted time as a leader.

Somebody ought to be on your hip pocket, watching what you're doing, talking to you, and you're modeling and mentoring for them. So instructive, even for me, and this is a subject that you just never stop learning about. Yes. And seeking to put it into practice. Right. The leaders that I've observed, they have a humility about them, and that they're eager to learn, they're eager to study, they're eager to improve.

Yeah, once you quit learning, quit leading. I just had the service of, I have five, do you mind if I put this in? Let me throw this in, okay?

There's three things. Lead on. Okay, so, can I lead here?

Okay. I'm trying to follow, but, and by the way, if you can't follow, you can't lead. Just don't lead. If you are not able to submit yourself to other leaders in the God appointed arenas, then you're not going to be a leader. And so great leaders have always been great followers.

And so when I'm trying to help leaders, I always tell them, get three to five models from the Bible or history to learn from. Eighty percent of what you learn in life is imitation. I mean, these ladies out here were never taught to teach a foreign language, but they taught their children a foreign language with no point of, I mean, when I learned Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Spanish, I had a vocabulary card.

Your baby doesn't have a vocabulary card. You're starting from scratch. And they've never been trained, but they teach this because we're born imitators. That's why Paul said, imitate me as I imitate Christ. So get three to five models for your life. Get them from history because the last chapter was written. When I remember a governor in California named Reagan and a president by the name of Carter, they went to San Francisco, shook hands with the preacher and told all of us, be like this guy.

Three years later, he's got 900 people drinking poison in South America. So you want to wait until the last chapter has been written for models. Now mentors, you've got to choose them. Get three to five mentors.

I had R.C. and make it easy for them. Do not wait for mentors. Guys come to me and say, well, nobody wants to mentor me. And I said, well, quit whining and go find a mentor and make it easy for them.

When I went to R.C. and Frank Barker and Jim Boyce, I went to them and said, guys, listen, two times a year can we do this? Can I call you three times a year? And I promise confidentiality and I'll do everything to make it work.

Because they're going to be asked by a lot of people. Now you can't get your mentors from history unless you know how to channel. So you're going to have to get them from the present, but choose them wisely. And then get three to five band of brothers, circle of sisters, that will hold you accountable, pray with you, encourage you.

I've got the same guys I've been meeting with for 42 years and I'm very grateful for them and what they've meant in my life. So that's what I would say to people to begin to move forward. And always be a learner. Learn from your models. Learn from your mentors. Learn from your band of brothers.

Keep learning all the time. When I would see Dr. Barker, I'd meet him and he would be sitting there. He would be doing one of two things. He would either be praying or he'd be reading a book. 86 years old. And I would ask him, Dr. Barker, how are you doing? Fine.

He'd look at me. Well, praise the Lord, Harry. Praise the Lord. You're just a great guy.

Man, this is great. What have you been reading that you think will help me? He would ask me what he might read that would help him. But here's what impressed me. He never stopped learning until he went to be with Jesus. Now he's learning like never before. And that's what I've always, great leaders are verbivores.

You can't stop them from learning. When you look at Jesus' example of servanthood, how does that inform and shape our thinking about leadership? Servant leader.

And we hear those ideas going together and looking at the life of Christ. You know, I think a servant leader takes joy in the success of the people they're leading and the people that they are training to lead. You just get great joy in that.

You're not jealous of it. A servant leader, the whole point is you want these people to move forward. The whole point is you want other leaders to learn to take your place and take it to another level. So a servant leader just says no to jealousy. I don't want any part of that. Secondly, a servant leader, you don't have to tell them.

You can tell them what to do, but you don't have to tell them what to do. They're already asking you. They're looking for it. Listen, salvation's free, discipleship costs, and leadership's going to cost you a lot more. It's just going to cost you.

Personally, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, it's going to cost. What does the Japanese say? The tallest nail gets hit the first and the most.

So it's just going to happen. Here's what helps me is when Jesus goes into that room and he grabs a towel and he does what none of the disciples had taken care of, which they should have. He grabs a towel and he starts ministering to them. The state has the power of the sword.

The family has the power of the rod. The church and the leaders in the church have the power of the towel. When I graduated from Westminster South in Florida Theological Center, I walked across the stage and I got my Westminster degree with all my heroes that signed it. Yes, and Bob Godfrey was on that. He was there.

He did sign it. And then they handed me a towel. You're now qualified to go wash feet.

Go serve. And I think that's just the heart that you have to cultivate. It's not natural. When did you shift from speaking of I versus we? When in your ministry did you learn to understand this isn't about you. This is about us. I don't know. But when I leave here, my wife will tell me when we did.

So, no. Yeah, I honestly can't. Well, let me say this. A lady was on a missions trip with me and the Lord really blessed in this missions trip.

She came up when we were standing in line and she said, Pastor, when did the Lord break you? Well, it didn't take me but a minute. I could tell. I mean, it's been, I'm so hard headed it's been more than once. But I knew exactly the one to go to. But I want to make something clear.

I'm probably going to get into trouble on this. I believe God breaking us is something He does because He loves us. But He doesn't break us for us to embrace brokenness. He breaks us so that we embrace Him. And we don't put our confidence in ourself.

We need to be broken. And we don't put confidence in brokenness. We put our confidence in Him. He is teaching us that we are more than conquerors in Him. He's teaching us without Him we can do nothing. But I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Brokenness is what He has to do to get us to Him. And so I can name a number of times in my life pretty hard headed. And that would include learning it's not about me.

And that's when you move to the plural pronouns, we and us. And so even with the contrast between the world's conception of what a leader is and even as you've touched on Christ modeling humility and service. Just how does the Christian faith help us to approach leadership in a distinctively helpful way, the way that God has structured this world to work over and against what the world would celebrate as leadership?

You know, Chris, I think you're doing a good job of it here at Ligonier by the way. And I see it in other churches, in churches. I see it in other ministries. You can spot it because the leader has set an environment that it's not about Him.

And therefore everybody else picks that up or they don't last. It's not about me, it's about the mission. It's about what God's called us to do for His glory. It's about Him and it's about the mission.

It's not about me. And so I think when you see that in a Christian leader, there's something attractive about it. There's something that draws you into it. It's something that has to be cultivated.

And you sense it. It begins to penetrate the culture of the church, the culture of the organization. And I think the key to it is it's not simply not about me as the leader. It's not about me as the leader because it's all about Jesus.

It's all about Him. We want Him to be lifted up. And we in the leadership, we're the first ones to lift Him up. Not the last ones, but we are the first ones.

And we want that to be done. And that's the church, the family, the workplace. Everywhere.

Everywhere. You can sense the humility. Do not read a personality package as humility.

You know, introverts are humble and extroverts aren't. I just don't think that's the way you do it. You pick it up in someone's life. You pick it up in their awareness, their consideration.

It's not all about them. You sense it. And I guess my favorite model is simply John the Baptist. He doesn't say Jesus must increase without saying, I must decrease. And he doesn't draw attention to himself by saying, I must decrease. He says, I must decrease.

He wants the attention. There is the Lamb of God. He wants Jesus to increase. That's what I think has to happen. Do you think that there can be a temptation to confuse giftedness for godly leadership?

And how could we correct that course? Let me tackle that by 1 Timothy chapter 3. It's a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. If any man aspire to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

Now what did that just tell you? If you long and you aspire to the office of overseer, what you're aspiring to is a fine work. Your leadership is not wearing a title. Leadership is bearing the office. You bear the office. You uphold it.

You didn't come to this to get the title. You came to this to do the work of that ministry, the work of that leadership. And it's good to aspire to not the office, but to the work of the office itself. That's what you're called to do. Repeat that question.

I kind of got lost there. That's just confusing giftedness and godliness too. And then the elder must be above reproach. So here's the ordained leadership. The elder must be above reproach.

And then you have 16 qualifications. Verses two and three, your personal life. Four and five, your family life. Six, your church life.

Verse seven, your community life. Above reproach in all of those areas. Note they're prioritized. And then as you go through them, 15 of them deal with character and conduct. Only two deal with competencies.

And so I think that there's a clear message. Godliness is more important than giftedness. I am not saying giftedness is not important, but I am saying godliness. You give me a young man who is looking toward leadership for Christ in this world or in his church, and he is pursuing godliness. I'll take him on because I know he will either seek to learn effective leadership or he'll be humble enough to go get other people where he isn't good and he'll be glad to put them in place because it's not about him.

That's why I look for that godliness more than anything else. Let me say one more thing. A friend of mine asked me to teach on leadership, which is how this book, 3D Leadership, got born. And I said, you know, I just don't think, I don't have any curriculum for that. He said, yeah, but he said, Harry, I want you to teach on multiplying and mobilizing leaders. I said, I don't really have anything. He said, I know. I said, so I kept, well, then why do you keep asking me to do it if you know I don't have it? He says, because I sense and watch you do it intentionally. I want you to do it more effectively and intentionally, so I'm going to make you think about it. I said, well, that's good, and that turned into the book.

Here's how the book happened. I had three weeks away from teaching this thing, and I stopped off at my favorite Scotts-Irish restaurant, McDonald's, and did you know a Big Mac, the sauce, if the sauce anoints you? And when I took the bite of the Big Mac, I immediately thought of Hebrews 13, and I opened up my Bible, and there it said, remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you, and considering the outcome of their life, imitate their faith.

Now, if you heard me, you'd say, Harry, why is that so interesting as a leadership? That's a followership verse. I mean, you've got your three Presbyterian points. Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider their life and imitate their faith.

There's your three points. And so where did the leadership part, that's the second bite of the Big Mac, and I saw that, wait just a minute, those followership exhortations are possible because of three things that are assumed about leadership. Remember those who led you, leadership competencies. Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you. You can't speak to people what you don't know, leadership content. And considering the outcome of their life, imitate their faith, leadership character. Character, content, and conduct. Well, get my book for the rest of it, but here's what I'll say.

Here's what I'll say about this. I got to thinking, I know a lot of, I know a lot of men in the ministry who have much better skills and competencies than I do, who are unbelievably adept in their grasp of theological concepts and issues. But everywhere they go, though they can preach and teach and this and that, everywhere they go, things get split, divided, and there's chaos because the issue is character. So I don't teach competency first and content first. I teach character first. Because if someone has character, they're going to go get the content and they're going to develop the competencies or they'll go get people who will help them because it's not about them. And if character is there, they won't learn those skills and content to manipulate people. They'll get it to motivate people that these people will know Christ better and Christ will be known better. That's why I think the issue of what you just raised is so important.

Giftedness, yes, it's important, but godliness is absolutely essential. Amen. For the faithful leader, it's inevitable.

You've already touched on it. The faithful leader is going to have times of loneliness where they are going to be hurt, misunderstood. What would you say to those watching, to those here, to those who have sought to follow Christ in servant leadership and yet they still find themselves wounded, hurt, lonely?

How would you encourage them? Okay, can I do something now that's a leadership skill? I used to walk with my daddy who was kind of bigger than life for me. He put his arm around me and when he did, I wasn't afraid of anything. And then we'd walk along and while we'd walk along, he'd kick me in the rear end.

And I couldn't wait to get married and have a kid so I could do the same thing. So I'm going to give you a little bit of a kick first. God calls men to act like men because leadership is going to hurt.

My daddy used to call it, you've got to put your big boy pants on. I am not being unfeeling. I am not being unthinking.

I am accused of it every time I say this. I understand it hurts. Please believe me. I understand it hurts. And I'm going to speak to that.

I'm going to put my arm around you and hug you up the best I can virtually. But here's the other thing. There's a reason I think, there's a number of reasons why I believe in God's, I just preached on it this morning, the way created masculinity and then getting saved to say no to toxic masculinity that comes from the fall and then develop a Christian manhood lifestyle that's growing in God's grace. Whereby circumstances do not dictate your character, they reveal it. And when, not if, when we falter becomes the opportunity to refine it. I think that what you've got to realize, this thing's going to hurt. I'm going to take it to the Lord. I'm going to call upon the Lord. I'm going to let the Lord be my defender.

I'm going to do all of that. But listen, you all just heard some great stories of men who love Jesus enough to die in something as painful as a fire on Broad Avenue in Oxford. You'll never be able to get there until you're able to take the fiery darts with the grace of the Lord Jesus that Satan's going to fire at you. If you can't take those in life, you won't be able to take the flames on that day. So just ask the Lord to be your strength. Then secondly, get that group of brothers around you that can pray with you and for you.

And that you encourage them and they encourage you so that they are there in your life. Thirdly, take this to the Lord and remember there's nothing that has happened to you that did not happen to him and beyond. And he is able, he is able to empathize you. Cast all your cares upon him. Fourthly, remember he's doing something. He's burning off the dross. He's refining you. And like the refiner's fire, when he's doing this through you, anticipate what is yet to come. And when he burns the dross off, he'll look in and see himself in you more than he would have before.

So he's doing something. Trust him. He'll give you the strength. He'll give you peace that passes understanding. Jesus himself will stand guard over your heart. You call upon him.

Be anxious for nothing and everything by prayer and supplication. Make your quest known and the peace of God will be with you. Beyond understanding and Christ himself will stand sentry over your heart. What the Lord's done, he's just rung the school bell. He's teaching you something. I don't know about you. I want to learn as fast as I can so he'll ring the next bell and I can go to recess.

And so just go ahead and start learning it. Find out what he's doing. I think it was Dr. Godfrey that said earlier what Peter tells us. And one of the things Peter is telling us is this.

He is bringing home what Jesus taught him and that was this. If you live for Christ and if you lead for Christ, you are going to be persecuted. You are going to be reviled.

Here's the fact. All who live in Christ are going to suffer to some degree in some manner for some reason in life. And when you do, he will be with you. And you can count it all joy, not because of rejoicing in the pain, but rejoicing in what Christ is doing in this. That's why you get a guy like Tolkien and you get a guy like Lewis who can create wonderful words like eucatastrophe that in the midst of this, there's something great and glorious going on. And when he tells you, I'm not promising you all things are good, but I am promising you all things work together for good, then you can believe that.

And one more thing I would just tell you. Your people are watching. They're going to hit the hard dynamics of life.

And they're going to suffer. And when you and I have walked before them, then God willing, they have seen an imperfect, but by God's grace, an intentional model that we have put our confidence in Jesus in the midst of the trial, knowing He's got something for the eternal weight of His glory and the eternal good of my soul. That's Dr. Harry Reader, who is the senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church and the author of 3D Leadership and the Leadership Dynamic.

Dr. Reader was one of our speakers this past March at our national conference. Our theme was upholding Christian ethics. Our speakers considered how God's Word takes the moral confusion that we see all around us and puts it in proper perspective. When we have a biblical understanding of ethics, we're prepared to stand for the truth. We're prepared to love our neighbors well and seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

You're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Saturday by Lee Webb. Our resource offer today is R.C. Sproul's book, Everyone's a Theologian, an Introduction to Systematic Theology. In it, Dr. Sproul surveys the basic truths of the Christian faith, and if you've never contacted us before, we'd be happy to send you a free copy.

You can make your request online when you go to renewingyourmind.org. If you are new to the ministry, let me also recommend that you explore the many podcasts we produce here at Ligonier. For example, you can learn about the people and events that have shaped the Church over the years with Dr. Stephen Nichols. His podcast is Five Minutes in Church History. Or Barry Cooper will teach you that the big words that we find in theology textbooks really aren't as difficult as we may think. His podcast is Simply Put.

You can explore them all at ligonier.org slash podcasts. Next Saturday, we'll hear another message from the 2022 Ligonier National Conference. Dr. Stephen Lawson will encourage us to press on. I hope you'll join us for that next week here on Renewing Your Mind. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-04 14:39:31 / 2022-12-04 14:51:47 / 12

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