Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. We are charged to represent Christ in a world that murdered him. And Jesus said, what they did to me, you can expect them to do to you. So if they did it to me, they're going to do it to you. So expect criticism when it comes. When it comes, keep your eyes on me because you answer only to me. You're my servant, my steward now, not theirs. Hey, welcome back to Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. Today on the program, Pastor J.D. is taking us down a new path, showing us what makes for a good or a bad leader. The truth is whether you're a pastor or a plumber, a stay at home mom or a shift leader at a small restaurant, at some point in your life, you will lead others. The question then is not if you will lead others, but how you will lead. And our culture has a lot to say about leadership, but thankfully the gospel cuts through the noise of our world, painting a picture of leadership that is known less for fame and pride and more for sacrifice and suffering. Ready for Christian Leadership 101?
Well, you came to the right place. Let's join Pastor J.D. Greer as he continues our brand new teaching series in 1 Corinthians by asking a question. So you want to be a leader?
1 Corinthians chapter four this week. As you are turning there, we have a generation of Americans who, for the most part, distrust authority, right? Many will say that is because our generation inherited the legacy of Vietnam and things like President Nixon and his line and resignation of Watergate. We remember things like President Clinton building an entire justification for lying to the American people based on a tortured parsing of the word is. We are pretty sure that whatever institutions or powerful people tell us, we're pretty confident that it's not the full truth and that it's been carefully spun by experts to protect their interests.
We have seen how institutions that claim to represent truth and morality will use those very powers to perpetuate unjust practices that protect the powerful and benefit only themselves. Let's just be honest, we have long since given up on objective, unbiased media. Everything, everything feels on one level like fake news because we are aware of how selective and how biased everything we hear is.
I mean, I'm sure you're like me. Sometimes I just check both sides on MSNBC or CNN and then look at Fox News. And it's like, I think we all live in two different worlds because we're reporting on the same thing, but from entirely different vantage points. If you are in a position of authority, you likely know the struggle to maintain credibility. Distrust of authority is just, it's in our bloodstream as Americans.
I mean, think about it. Our entire country is based on not trusting authority. Sorry, Britain, right? No taxation without representation. You can keep your tea.
We are leaving. And when our forefathers got around to setting up our government, they created a three branch government system. It was unique at the time and pretty much still is unique in the world because one branch can basically cancel out the other two because we just don't trust any of them.
Amen. My point is for both good reasons and bad, we distrust authority in this country. And of course that attitude affects our view of leadership in the church. Sadly, very sadly, we see in the church a lot of the same abuses of power that we see in the world.
TV pastors stealing money, Catholic priests abusing children, church leaders covering up pastoral abuse. And so all of that, I share all of that to say that makes Paul's explanation in 1 Corinthians 4 of how we ought to view leadership in the church, it makes it so incredibly important. Verse one, the apostle Paul says, this is how you should regard us. Us in that sentence, meaning church leaders.
Now let me just be clear right up front for you, okay? The Bible is pro leadership. It is even pro authority. And it says that all of us ought to be submitted to leadership and authority on some level.
But there is good authority and there is bad authority. And in this chapter, Paul is going to give us four characteristics of good authority in the church. If you are a leader of any kind, these are what you should aspire to be. You say, well, I'm not a leader, how's this gonna apply to me this morning? Well, these are the traits that you should champion and call out and affirm in those you elevate in the church. Evangelical churches have a tendency to elevate leaders who are high on charisma, even if low on character.
And so you got to look at this chapter and we got to commit ourselves to avoid that here. But even more importantly, I would say to you that everybody, all of us, at some point plays the role of leader in somebody else's life. Maybe you're a parent, or maybe you lead a small group, or maybe you teach kids, or maybe you run the nursing floor in your hospital, or you're a shift leader at a restaurant. Maybe you're just trying to be a good influence in somebody else's life, which means that in some way you are leading any of those people that I just talked about. All of us play the role of leader at some point in somebody else's life, which means what Paul is going to say about himself in this chapter applies not just to me, it applies to you also. So look at verse one. You'll see the first two characteristics of the leader, Christian leader. A Christian leader, Paul says, is first a servant of Christ. This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ. You might be a leader of others, Paul's saying. You might even have authority over them, but your fundamental identity is that of servant of Christ.
That means a couple things, practically. As a servant, it's never about your will or your desires for that person or group of people, it's about his will. A servant does not execute his own will, he follows the will of another. Interestingly, the word Paul uses for servant here is not his typical word.
Usually the word translated servant in your Bible is the word doulos, which just means slave or servant. What he uses here is the word hyperitas, which literally means under rower, like on a boat. Think a coxswain and you've got all these rowers that are following the beat of the coxswain. Paul is like, Jesus is the captain, he's the coxswain.
My job is to row and beat with him. Have you ever seen how a crew team works? You've got one guy who's facing forward and all the other guys, all the other men and women are looking backwards at him, they can't even see where they're going, and he's just kind of drumming out a beat. And they've got to keep in line with the beat. And if they start kind of going on their own beat, even if they're really, really strong, even if they're rowing faster than everybody else, they're going to mess everything up.
The point is to stay as an under rower in line with the captain or the coxswain. The mission statement of our church begins with this phrase, following the Holy Spirit. What we're trying to acknowledge is that Jesus is the captain.
He is the one who is calling the beat. All of our jobs, including mine, is to say, what does he want from this church? God, where do you want it to go? It's not about my agenda. It's not about what I want.
It's not even about what these people want. It's about what the Holy Spirit intends for us. So first, being a servant means it's his will, not mine.
But second, being the servant of Christ means that I, or whatever leader, sees the group of people that he or she is leading as belonging to Christ, not to him. For me, for example, I know that God is the owner of this church. This church does not exist for me or my purposes.
I am, quite frankly, dispensable. That means I have to look at this church not through the lens of what's best for JD. I got to look at this church through the lens of what's best for Jesus. If what's best for Jesus is going the opposite way of what's best for JD, then we're all duty bound to go with Jesus and not JD. One of the best biblical examples of this is John the Baptist. At one point in John the Baptist's ministry, Jesus, his cousin, was starting to get more popular than John.
So a lot of people asked him, a lot of his close buddies asked him, like, hey man, doesn't that bother you? I mean, you spent all this time building a following, and then Jesus kind of comes along, and he's got some miracles and some cool analogies and some sermons, and he just upstages you? And John the Baptist responded in a way that every leader should respond. He said, no, no, he must increase, even if it means that I must decrease. John then compared his role of leadership in the church, he compared it to being the best man at a wedding. How many of you men have ever played the role of best man at a wedding? Raise your hand. Okay, we got a pastor in our staff named Ade who told me he has been in 30 wedding parties. I was like, bro, you need less friends. Am I right?
Okay, just get rid of a bunch of them. But traditionally, the role of a best man in a Jewish wedding is to support the groom. He's the servant of the groom.
That's all basically what he does. His job is to make sure the wedding happens as planned. In our tradition here in the West, the best man always stands right behind the groom. He's got a very important role, but if he's doing his job, you shouldn't really notice him. Nobody should end the ceremony talking about the best man.
Am I right? In fact, in the greatest moment in any wedding, everybody agrees there's one awesome moment. The greatest moment is when that back door opens and the music crescendos, and there she stands, right? All of her resplendent glory.
There has never been a bride in the history of the world that did not look amazing in that moment. And everybody turns and they look at her, and where's the next place they look? Always back at him because you're waiting to see, is this man who's macho, is he going to crack, and is he going to get a tear?
And that's what everybody, people exchanging money, they're betting, is he going to cry? And everybody loves it. Everybody loves it because this is the moment. She's looking at him. He's looking at her.
The focus is on the two of them. You got the best man back. Now say you got a best man. He's standing right over here behind the groom. And let's say that at that moment, she's coming down the aisle and he kind of leans out from behind over the shoulder of the groom. He starts raising his eyes at her and winking or whatever, however he's trying to flirt with her. What is the groom going to do in that moment?
He's going to turn around and punch the best man in the throat, right? Because this moment is not about you. And who are you to jump into this moment and distract the bride from the bridegroom and get the attention onto you? And John says that is the pastor leader who is more concerned about what the church is thinking about him than he is thinking about what the church is thinking about Jesus. I ought to be fine in this church, and so should you, with being totally invisible. If the whole ceremony goes off and no one ever knows my name, that is totally fine because I am the servant of Christ. You're listening to a message titled, So You Want to Be a Leader, right here on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. We'll be right back with more from our teaching series in 1 Corinthians, but first I wanted to remind you about our free daily email devotional. Couldn't we all use a little encouragement to start our day off right? You know, that's why we've created this resource to give you solid biblical content that follows right alongside our teaching on the program. It's meant to help keep you engaged each day, even if you miss Summit Life on the radio. We'd love to send you this daily devotional from Pastor J.D., equipping you to stay connected with God's Word and be inspired to live out your faith each day.
Sign up for this free resource now by visiting jdgreer.com slash resources. Don't miss out on this opportunity to make time with the Lord a part of your daily routine. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Here's Pastor J.D. I tell you, one of the ways I had to learn to apply this was when God really started to put on the heart of this church, church planting and sending out missionaries. I don't know if you know this, but the kinds of people that volunteer to go on church plants, they're not sideline people. We've had 1,500 or so people uproot their lives from this church to go out in one of our church planting teams. All of them had one thing in common.
They were super involved. And church plants, they don't benefit our church a lot either. I mean, I always say church plants are like teenagers. All they want is your money and your affirmation and then for you to leave them alone.
That's all they want. So it doesn't benefit us as a church. And I remember when we really started to do this and we were giving our church planters permission to recruit some of our best leaders. It was like one of the first years we did this, I was meeting with these planters that were recruiting people from our church.
And I'm like, all right, let's go around and tell me who you've recruited. And they started to go around the table. And I don't know if I'd call it a panic attack, but it was panic. I was hearing the names of like friends and worship leaders and elders and big givers.
Not that I know who gives what, but big givers. And I was like, no, no, no, not her. And I remember this moment where the Holy Spirit was like, this is not your church. I remember, I've told you this before, I literally had to put my hands on the table. I was having a little moment while they were all talking.
Nobody knew about it. I had this moment where I just had to take my hands and open them out, stretch them out underneath the table and to say, this is not my church. And if God, you're going to grow your kingdom by taking out some of the very best people from our church, then that's how it has to be, because you must increase and I must decrease. I read about a really famous pastor in the 1800s named Charles Simeon. Dr. Simeon had built this big church, similar, I guess, to ours. And in the midst of it, God raises up a younger guy in the ministry who could really preach better than Charles Simeon could. And the problem was that Charles Simeon didn't feel like he was quite ready to retire, but after praying about it and consulting with his leaders, he knew that it was better for the church and for the city for him to step aside and let this other leader lead.
He said it was one of the hardest things that he had ever had to do. I remember reading that in a biography and thinking, I hope that when that day comes for me, I hope that I will have the same attitude because I understand I am the servant of Christ and this church doesn't exist for me, we all exist for him. The question for you is this, if you are assigned to a leadership position, do you see that leadership position as service? Do you see your leadership role as a place of power over others? Or do you see it as a place, a position that you can give service to others on behalf of Christ, if you're a boss? Do you see that as a place from which you can lift up your employees on behalf of Christ to help them, to help develop them and bless their lives?
Or are they cogs in your machine? If you manage a company, is your goal, is your goal in the whole company to produce something that blesses society and helps make people's lives better? If you're a parent, do you see yourself as just Christ's tool to grow your kids for his purposes? You get a temporary window, kids don't really belong to you, they belong to him, you get a temporary window and you are ready to open your hands and let them go wherever he wants them to go.
And I know that sounds so obvious. I cannot tell you how many parents we have of kids in this church that grow up in this church, that when God begins to put his hand on the kid and tell them he wants them to be a part of going to be a missionary, the parents say no, as if they were the ones that owned the kid and they're going to tell God what to do with his child. The point is, any leadership position has to be seen first and foremost as an act of service to Christ, where you see yourself as just a tool, just a tool in his hands. That ties into Paul's next thing.
Number two, a Christian leader, he says, is a steward. This is how one should regard us, as service of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now the mysteries of God that Paul is referring to here is not whether Adam had a belly button or if there's an area 51 in the Bible or anything like that. The mysteries of God here that Paul refers to are the gospel. That's what he's made clear in chapters one through three.
The mysterious thing that God has been doing all along in history and sending his son to die on a cross to reconcile the world to himself. Paul says, I didn't write those mysteries. I didn't come up with them. God did.
I'm just passing them along. I'm just the mailman. Paul doesn't use the analogy mailman. He uses a similar one and that is steward. The word there in Greek is oikonomos and it literally means household servant, household manager.
It might be my favorite one word description of a pastor. You see, in those days, big families often had a steward that oversaw the affairs of the house. That steward managed the kids. He or she taught the kids.
He took care of the property, but even though he was hyper involved with the kids and the property, they weren't his kids and it wasn't his property. His job was to execute the master or the father's will. Here's what that means for me as a preacher. I don't decide what God's kids eat.
The father and the mother choose that. My job is just to prepare it into a meal. This book, this book right here, this is what our father has said we should eat spiritually. My job is just to deliver it to you. If you don't like some of it, we'll take it up with dad. You're like, I just want my preacher to serve up Twinkies and Hot Pockets all the time. Well, too bad.
Dad knows that we need to be healthy and sometimes he prescribes vegetables for us. Don't hate on me. I'm just a steward.
That's all I am. Servant and steward. By the way, in the next three verses, Paul is going to show you how those first two words address something, help you address something that every leader faces and that is criticism. Believe me, if you are a leader of any kind, you are going to get it. Lots of it.
Good and bad. Paul got it. Paul says, look, I first process criticism. I put it all to the lens of servant and steward. Check it out.
Check it out. Verse three, Paul says, because I am a servant of Christ and because I'm his steward, he says, verse three, with me, it's a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. Why? It's the Lord who judges me, not you. At the end of the day, I don't answer to you.
I answer to him. And by the way, if you're really a Christian leader, you shouldn't be surprised by criticism, right? I mean, we are charged to represent Christ in a world that murdered him. And Jesus said, what they did to me, you can expect them to do to you because that was actually a better version of you anyway. So if they did it to me, they're going to do it to you. So expect criticism when it comes. When it comes, keep your eyes on me because you answer only to me. You're my servant, my steward now, not theirs. Now, let me be very clear.
And this is a very important caveat, I think. I want you to know, I welcome a lot of criticism because I know that I'm not infallible. And sometimes, often, God uses other people, sometimes friends, and sometimes even adversaries, to point out inconsistencies and shortcomings in my life. Some of the best things that have happened to me in terms of shaping me into who I am have happened to people who were critical of me.
So I want to remain open to that. Over the years, countless people have spoken into my life and they shaped me into the leader and the man that I am today. One of the things I've tried to lead our team in here at the Summit Church is being open to criticism, not just open, but to seek it out. Because Proverbs, for example, says things like Proverbs 26, 12, the one who is wise in their own eyes, there's more hope for a fool than for him. I don't ever want to get to a point where I feel like, no, no, no, I don't take criticism because I know what I'm supposed to do.
That's more hope for a fool than for that guy. I need the eyes of others. But the point is, at the end of the day, as a servant and as a steward, my soul answers only to God. People say to me sometimes, they're like, you know, man, when I look at you online, you seem to get a lot of criticism. How do you handle that?
Well, first, I don't pay attention to it, so stop pointing it out to me, okay? But truthfully, I mean, yes, criticism bothers me like it would anybody else. I mean, I want people to like me. In fact, I'm a people pleaser.
I like people to like me. And so, yes, it bothers me, but here's what Paul's saying. I've got this vision. In fact, it used to happen a lot when I was preaching early on, not as much anymore, but I get really nervous and feel like this is not going to go over well, but I feel like that's what I'm supposed to say. I would get this image in my mind of like, basically, think God the Father in heaven watching me preach, and he's standing there at the edge of heaven. He's looking down on earth, and he's watching, and he's like, oh, here he goes. He gets all the angels together. He's like, y'all, come on, look, look, watch.
This is not going to go well. This is JD, right? He's trying to preach again, and he's going way too long like he always does, but that's my boy, and he's doing what I told him to do, and I'm proud of him. And that vision, that thought of God the Father being pleased with me gave me the strength to just not be devastated by other people disapproving of me. Y'all, I gave up long ago, one of the greatest things I ever gave away. I gave away trying to manage everybody else's opinions of me. It's exhausting.
I'm just worried about him. I perform for an audience of one. Paul says, I am a servant.
I am a steward. He says, number three, a Christian leader is only a surrogate. That's verse six. Verse six, I've applied all these things to myself and to Apollos for your benefit, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written about any of us, that none of you may be puffed up in favor against one another. Y'all remember real quick, remember in this whole section, chapters one through four, I told you Paul is dealing with the problem of divisions in the church. Paul said that a lot of these divisions ultimately came from the Corinthians being overly dependent on some earthly leader.
And Paul says, you got to cut that out. My goal here, he says, is for you not to think more highly of any of us than what you really should. Earthly leaders, they're just temporary, broken, faulty stand-ins for Jesus.
Even better, think of them like instruments in his hand. We hope you were challenged and encouraged to embrace the responsibility of leadership today, wherever God has placed you. So to hear this message again, or to share it with a friend, visit jdgrier.com. J.D., we just started this brand new teaching series called Cutting Through the Noise, and I think our listeners would love a quick bird's eye view. So can you tell us what it's all about?
Great question. Life feels overwhelming, feels like noise, feels confusing, chaotic, loud. And everywhere you turn, there's a voice calling to you saying, hey, this is what I need from you.
This is what you need to do. This is what will really make your life complete. I think a lot of us in a world like we live in with constant digital distraction are saying, is there a way out of all this? Is there a way to cut through the noise and the distraction? What Paul shows them is that the gospel cuts through the noise that will give them a compass that will guide them to the peace and confidence in life that they yearn for. And so to help you clear the noise without adding a lot to your plate, what we've done is we've created this little 14-part Bible study. Molly, I don't know about you, but I love things that are five minutes.
And I could just say, okay, I got it, and then move forward. We'd love for you to reserve your copy right now. Just go to jdgrier.com. Like Pastor JD said, if you're interested in furthering your study of this book, we'd like to offer you our new monthly resource, Cutting Through the Noise, 14 Five-Minute Studies in First Corinthians. This guide is available to you today when you donate to support this ministry. Give us a call at 866-335-5220, or visit jdgrier.com to make your donation and reserve your copy today. I'm Molly Vidovitch, reminding you to join us again next time for the conclusion of today's message on leadership, right here on Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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