People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray. Proverbs 10:17
When a close friend or even someone outside of your circle of comfort identifies an attitude, action, or belief that is wrong what do you do? How do you respond?
Are you reactive? Or, are you responsive?
A reactive person is correction adverse. Immediately feels judged and condemned, even disrespected. A reactive person will lash out at the one who has offered a corrective criticism. The reactive person feel diminished as a person if their attitudes, actions, or beliefs are called into question or if they are called to give an account. There is a kind of foolishness shaping the reactive person and it will lead them astray.
The responsive person is celebrated as a wise one. The responsive person pauses and considers whether there is anything true in the criticism and corrective word. The responsive person is willing to change his or her mind. The responsive person has found their identity not “in being right” but in truly being righteous. The responsive person is not diminished by correction but embraces the opportunity to apply discipline to their life and thereby enter the pathway of life.
So you, are you correction adverse? Or are you responsive to correction?
It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, and therefore to Jesus and His pathway of life! There is no discipleship without responsiveness to correction.
1You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2
I recently heard that Tilley, the Canadian company that makes a hat that can survive being eaten by a elephant, is looking for a new owner. Its ready to sell. Sadly it seems there is no one there in the company ready to take the helm as the owner. Surely there are people within the organization ready to lead it forward!
Leaders of churches or the teams and small groups within them also have to think about the future and the people who will lead. Multiplying disciple makers is Paul’s mandate to Timothy. These kinds of leaders reproduce themselves no matter the context or type of group they are leading. Paul wants Timothy to focus on finding “faithful” people who will be able to teach others the Gospel life and ministry.
When leaders look around for potential what are they looking for? How do they know when they see potential? I have learned variations of the acrostic FAITH, as a way to identify the reliable, faithful person, with whom I can share my life and leadership. Here’s what I am using:
1. F — Faithful. They fulfill their previous commitments.
2. A — Available. They are available to meet up and to accept responsibilities in this season of their lives.
3. I — Initiative. They take initiative to meet the needs of the organization and people; they take initiative to ask questions.
4. T — Teachable. They are ready and willing to learn from me.
5. H — Heart. They Have IT— a growing, courageous, love for Jesus Christ and people.
So if you are a leader ask yourself:
Am I also demonstrating FAITH?
Who are the FAITH-full men and women around me?
What am I going to ask them to do next?
So if you are a member of an organization ask yourself:
Am I FAITH-full?
What are my growth areas?
How can I move from consuming to contributing?
Have I made myself available and accepted responsibility?
11Command and teach these things. 12Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:11-16
Sometimes we treat “youth” as an excuse for excess and for sin. So you are young and strong!? These are the days in which your process of digging a deep foundation for your life in the Gospel will open the way for you to lead and serve others. “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”
Paul wants Timothy to continue in his pastoral assignment in Ephesus without succumbing to a “I’m young” or “You are so young” point of view. Leadership under the grace of God is possible even as a young person. So Paul commends Timothy to keep a high view of himself because of the Gospel. Not just a high view of self-respect and self-leadership but also a large view of the character Jesus will reveal through his speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.
Timothy’s authority for leadership would not be his just because he had been given a position. The authority for the Gospel ministry came from the Scripture, so Paul tells him to “devote himself to the public reading of Scripture.” The power of the ministry wasn’t just his own power; it came from the gift of the Holy Spirit recognized and called out in the leadership of the Church. But, it is Timothy’s character being built by Christ that will ultimately yield the lasting fruit. So, Paul tells this young and strong leader: watch your life and doctrine, for by so doing you save both yourself and your hearers.”
Keep a close watch on your life. Keep a close watch on the content of your teaching.
18And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. Luke 1:18-22
Zechariah was taking his turn serving in the temple when God sent a message. His wife would have a child who would be the forerunner to the Messiah. It seemed unbelievable to Zechariah. Not the part about the Messiah, but the part about his wife having a baby.
When Zechariah left the seclusion of the temple he was speechless. He knew what God had said; his friends and family knew something had happened to him and perhaps it was from God. But they did not understand him. All he could do was try to communicate with his hands. They did not understand.
Sometimes our attempts to tell others about God’s call on our lives may be like Zechariah’s attempt. God confronts us. We have a new experience. We get a glimpse of what He is doing in the world. And we know we get to be a part of it. And now we want to tell others about it. But nobody understands us. What has been conceived in our lives by God is not yet apparent to others. And perhaps we are not yet really believing God. We lack the simplicity and conviction of speech required to express what God is showing us.
We may need a season of quiet patience, simplicity, and trust. That was the issue for Zechariah. He didn’t yet trust or believe God in the matter of the child. His ten months of silence or speechlessness was a graceful gift. When you are struggling to communicate what God is forming in you and for your organization try something: spend some more time quiet with God ‘till He forms the words in you that resonate.
29Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
The hardhearted person diminishes the impact of his or her words. But those of us touched by Christ Jesus, know words pack a punch. The renewing work of the Holy Spirit softens our heart and we cannot stand the thought of our words echoing in the minds of others as the shadow and stench of death.
The Gospel creates hope for humanity. And when I am operating in the fullness of the Holy Spirit my words will cooperate with the Gospel’s hope. Paul urges us to speak words of life fitting for the occasion so that people are built up and given grace.
What vision of people shapes the words pouring from your mouth?
Your words have power to shape people.