Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Leadership from a different angle

1 Thessalonians is at the top of my list of favorite books in the Bible. I am biased because God gave me the greatest small group community in the history of small groups (Fairfax, VA - 1999-2000) and we studied that book during our time together.

My co-leader (Rob) and I saw clearly how Paul's relationship with the Thessalonians revealed to us how we should care for our small group. I kept a list of ideas along these lines that I now use for small group training. The requirements for church leadership are often derived from the listings in 1 Timothy and Titus but I would also recommend reading through 1 Thessalonians for a deep well of ideas for considering leaders in the church.

I came across 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 during my morning lectionary reading and I ended up praying for the following prayer based on its content:

Lord, shape me into a leader of your church, I ask that you form me into a leader, proclaimer of your gospel, and caregiver that is like Paul as seen in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
I ask that I consider those to whom you send me as brothers and sisters (v. 1),

that I dare to share the gospel in spite of strong opposition (v. 2),

that what I share not spring from error or impure motives or trickery (v. 3),

instead may I speak as one approved by God who has been entrusted with your announcement of God's reign, not trying to please people but God who tests my heart (v. 4),

that I may never use flattery or have secret greedy intentions (v. 5),

that I may never look for the praise of people (v. 6),

that I may be a gentle and caring shepherd who is like a mother to her children (v. 7),

that my love for my brothers and sisters would be so great that I would not only share the gospel but also my very life with them because they are so dear to me (v. 8),

that I may work so as not to be an excessive burden to anyone (v. 9),

that by God's grace I would be a holy, righteous, and blameless person among my brothers and sisters (v.10),

that I would deal with my brothers and sisters like a father deals with his own children, encouraging and comforting (vv. 11-12),

and that I would urge them to live lives worthy of God, the God revealed in Jesus Christ who calls each person into his kingdom and glory (v.12),

may I be this leader, encourager, and caregiver as seen in the apostle Paul as he follows his Lord and Savior, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.