Private Christians Resent Public Christians

George Whitefield

Amos 5:10 says, “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks uprightly.” One sign of a corrupt society is that those who speak the truth are persecuted and hated. especially those who speak the truth publicly. America is surely in that position. Her politicians and other public figures are serial liars. Truth is hated in America. But beyond politics the church does the same thing. She doesn’t want truth tellers. She doesn’t want public figures who call out wicked men and women for their lies and abominations. We are embarrassed by public condemnation of sins. Let’s do our theology at our desks and keep our opinions to ourselves. Let’s have our family worship, but never tell others about Jesus. Let’s hold our private opinions about gender and sexual issues, but let’s not impose those on others. Let’s continue to vote for people who destroy the weak and poor. And we so castrate Christianity, cutting off its potency. Tim Bayly speaks to this in his book Daddy Tried: 

Public Christians are always an inconvenience to private Christians, and so we teach young men and new Christians to keep their Christian faith quiet and harmless-which is to say, personal and private. But Christian faith that is personal and private, carefully kept within the confines of home and church, is no faith at all.

No wonder America continues to slaughter babies at the rate of 1.3 million per year, and often just down the street from our church or kitty-corner to our supermarket.

We’re private Christians.

No wonder America has come to believe in homosexual marriage. No wonder America has more women getting college, university, and professional degrees than men. No wonder America will soon have a woman president who’s a stronger leader than her husband. No wonder America lost faith in the authority of Scripture, denies the existence of Hell, and never reads the Bible. No wonder America is having fewer and fewer children in homes that are mostly fatherless, now.

Here is Jesus’s warning: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (Mt. 5:13)

So it’s happened, hasn’t it.

The world is dying for lack of manly, zealous, biblical fathers like Noah, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, John the Baptist, the Apostle Peter, the Apostle Paul, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Peter Waldo, Francis of Assisi, John Knox, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jim Elliot, Marvin Olasky, Phil Jensen…

And Jesus.

Men, what are you doing to speak and live truth in the city square? Is Jesus tucked away in your back pocket so you can pull Him out during family devotions and in the church parking lot, but He is ignored the rest of the time? If we are to be men who love Christ then we must find ways to speak  up in the gates. We need to look for opportunities to publicly oppose legislation that is against God’s Word. We need to look for opportunities to tell our neighbors the good news of Jesus Christ. We need to march on abortion clinics and write letters to the editor. We need to publicly oppose government programs the keep people poor. We need to expose the sins of our elected officials and put honest men in their place. Our faith is not private thing. We do not declare a Jesus who is in our heart. We declare a Jesus who king and has all authority in heaven and on earth. His authority extends to the city hall, the town square, and the legislative sessions in our states. Do we believe that? I think we do. But I also think we are cowards afraid of what others might think of us and the price we might have to pay for our public stand.

Be prepared though. One of the most discouraging things I have seen over the years is that if you do this Christians, not just the world, will hate you. Of course, we expect the world to denounce us. But fellow Christians? Yes. If we are active in the city gate, it will not just be the world telling us to shut up, but Christians will as well. You are bringing shame to Christ’s name. You are not loving your neighbor. You are driving people away from the church. You don’t want to sound like a crazy fundamentalist do you?  And so they will hate the one who rebukes in the gate. But that is a little price to pay to bring glory to our Savior and perhaps turn some to the truth, isn’t it?

Character Traits of Great Leaders

Leadership 2

I have been studying  leadership lately. Pastors do not get leadership training in seminary, but we should. We are leaders in our churches, denominations, and communities. Many of my mistakes in ministry have been leadership mistakes. There is a lot of bad teaching on leadership out there. Also I realize the church is not a business. But great leadership, whether in war, sports, business, politics, or the church, exhibits certain key character traits that do not change from sphere to sphere.

Here are my favorite definitions of leadership.
Harry Reeder :A leader influences others to effectively achieve a defined mission together.
The Army: The Army defines leadership as influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.
Kevin Kruse: Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal.

I like the Army’s definition  because of the last three words, “improve the organization.” The goal is not simply accomplishing a mission, but accomplishing it in such a way that the organization is not hurt.

Here are some character traits of great leaders I have pulled from several books. None of this is original to me.  This list is not comprehensive. I am sure I missed some things. Also any great leader will do some of these things better than others. You might be great at communication and poor at lifelong learning. But in all areas we can improve to lead our congregations or organizations better.  Continue reading

Find Your Stonewall

Stonewall Jackson

I am enjoying H.W. Crocker’s book Robert E. Lee on LeadershipIt is a treasure chest of leadership through the lens of a man almost universally respected as one of the greatest leaders in one of the darkest times in American history. One of Lee’s great strengths was getting rid of subordinates who were incompetent in either character or abilities and retaining and promoting good subordinates. For example, after an early failure  in the war he got rid of numerous commanders and brought his entire army under two main commanders, Stonewall Jackson and Longstreet. Though Jackson had failed in an earlier battle, Lee saw his potential and kept him. Lee was a great general, in part, because he knew who to keep and who to get rid of. Also once he put in a man in authority he trusted that man to deliver. If he could not trust the man he sent him packing. Here is great quote about Lee’s relationship to Stonewall.

Lee later said of Jackson, “Such an executive officer the sun never shone on. I have but to show him my design, and I know that if it can be done it will be done. No need for me to send or to watch for him. Straight as the needle to the pole [a compass] he advances to the execution of my purpose.” For those who seek to follow in Lee’s executive footsteps the lesson is clear: Find your Stonewall. Find subordinate officers you trust and who share your vision, and turn them loose.

To this I would add, be a Stonewall. If you are not in the lead, earn the trust of your leader, adopt his vision, and accomplish the objectives of your organization with passion, joy, and precision. Be a subordinate that the leader can trust without reservation.  If you cannot do this in your situation then get out and let the organization pursue its objectives. Early in his life Lee was this type of man, a man under authority who did his job well and according to his leader’s desires. Perhaps this is one reason he could recognize a good subordinate when he saw one.

Ten Quotes: The Leadership Dynamic by Harry Reeder

Leadership 1

Here are ten of my favorite quotes from Harry Reeder’s book, The Leadership Dynamic. 

Much of today’s leadership in the church may be well intentioned, but is doomed to failure. Why? Because it is leadership that has descended into cultural accommodation propelled by the desire for the culture’s affirmation.

Church leaders who choose worldly models of leadership will eventually suffer a loss of respect and loss of voice, and so will their churches.

A leader influences others to effectively achieve a defined mission together. [Definition]

While being gifted is important, a gifted leader who lacks godliness can lead others to destruction.

Great leadership requires understanding the mission and holding to an unyielding commitment to remain faithful to it. Neither self-promotion, nor self-preservation, nor pride, nor fear, nor weariness should deter a leader from faithfully fulfilling the mission.

Great leaders take care of their people…Not only do great leaders resolutely commit to achieving the mission, but they always strive to do the best for those who serve under them and are in their care.

Never take counsel from your fears. [Favorite maxim of Stonewall Jackson.]

Motivation produces passion. Management produces precision.

Greatness and effectiveness come from continually refining and building upon the basics with a commitment to excellence… Greatness seldom is a matter of exotic ingenuity but usually flows from the ability  of a leader to stay focused on the basics and execute them with excellence.

Worldly leadership is all about power, control, and personal promotion. It’s a cattle drive. Sometimes it is effective in reaching a goal, but inevitably it’s all about the leader, and those who pay the cost are the followers. Whether it succeeds or fails, it usually leaves behind unbelievable human wreckage.

And One:

Adversity yielded to the Lord can open vaults of wisdom if you choose to enter boldly and not retreat fearfully. Do not miss the moment by retreating into self-pity of self preservation, by blaming others, or by embracing anger or bitterness. Instead, seize the moment, as painful as it may be, and realize that the Lord has just rung the school bell.