03.22.2009 Acts 20 - How to know if you're proud - or not
25th March 2009
Father, thank You that You have nailed the whole of our sin to the cross. At times it seems so far and hard to believe that - Hasten the day that we can see it - that our sin is gone and we stand guiltless before the Savior whose blood was shed for each of us. May Your word touch our lives and penetrate our hearts.
AIG - Bonuses - Stimulus packages - what fills your mind - your emotions - when you read these words?
When we think of the leadership, there is a loss of confidence - not pointing out anyone specific, but there are a bunch of them. The lack of leadership has ruined things.
I'd like to look at some leadership today that is the opposite. 2 more weeks of Acts - Proper leadership - flows from a heart of humility, unselfishness, and courage. As we talk about this, I'd like us to not just think about spiritual leadership as those who are paid to do ministry - but as a parent, a Sunday school teacher, or at your job - you can take these principles from Paul and apply them to your life.
Pg. 1325 -
Acts 20: 17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 "And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. 25 "And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will see my face no more. 26 "Therefore I testify to you this day, that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
Look at vs. 17 - ...and called to him the elders of the church
Ephesus was one of the stronger churches - a hub for the gospel. This is Paul's first pastor's conference.
There is a conference here that Willow Creek puts on - The Leadership Summit - they bring in top speakers. They have had President Carter, President Clinton, Colin Powell, and business leaders...
Passing the Leadership Test....
The Leader's Edge
Making Vision Stick
They give these impressive titles - because they know how to market it.
When Paul talks - what he talks about is strikingly different. His emphasis - no one would go to this conference based on these titles. What he talks about is the foundation for great leadership.
Acts 20: "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time,
When I was there, I was one of you. The first and most important thing for a leader to do is to be one of those he leads - to be with them - to be like them. What has happened today - those who are in charge have separated themselves completely from those they lead. There is a great distance between those who run the banks and government and insurance companies (who need the bailouts) and those who work for them.
What Paul is saying is it is not the case in real leadership - you need to be one of them. Whatever area of influence you possess - you need to show yourself to be a part of them.
"You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;
Paul is defending his conduct - he served the Lord - and lists three ways he did that. In humility, 2) in tears, 3) in trials.
He doesn't say - I served the Lord in great Bible teaching. Nor in great church management. What mattered to Paul was first humility. Leadership is first about humility. What we see - the opposite - the arrogance of what has taken place today. The opposite of humility is pride. Pride destroys Christian leadership. It is always the downfall. Pride is the sin of Satan. It is what got Satan in trouble. It is easy to mask and hide - it is a sneaky thing. Never underestimate the sneakiness of pride. It is very sneaky. I'd like to offer a few things that would help you to think about this.
Someone who is proud puts his personal interests and success forward. If you are concerned about yourself all the time, it has at its root pride.
The inability to understand, appreciate, or work for the interests of others. Even if it is spiritually - that is a proud person. It is arrogance at its finest when you think about self - that is what it means to be proud.
A proud person is inflexible - can't change of bend - my way or the highway - doesn't work too well in a marriage, eh? It is so easy to be inflexible. That is pride.
The proud person is one who wants to control people and outcomes - if you have control issues, it is a pride issue. The proud person is defensive, especially when corrected. That sums it up for all of us. Inside, you are coming up with your defense... that is pride. To become defensive when someone else just begins to say something... it destroys spiritual leadership.
Independent spirit - I do it on my own - the cowboy mentality - not trusting God.
The proud person has a hard time apologizing.
The proud person lacks gratefulness. Do you have a hard time telling others how well they do?
The proud person is blind to his weaknesses. But they are good at seeing the weaknesses of others.
The proud person is unwilling to get help. We work so hard to change ourselves - but look at AA - what is the key there? You go to meetings and get help with your problem. It is not just trying extra hard - it is being humble enough to get help. When it comes to changing our character and flaws, we have been created to need help.
Humility - on the other hand - can be misunderstood. We think of personality, and it has nothing to do with personality. Jesus was humble and didn't walk around with his head down. He was courageous and straightforward. It begins with understanding your need for God. Without that, there is no humility. It is also being concerned about others and serving them. A humble person serves others for their good and their interests. That is a serving person - that is a humble person - Humility is serving others.
Humility is learning to listen, to take criticism and to work toward change. Humility is able to defer/yield to other people's opinion in life. Now, that does not mean that in areas that are non-negotiable (doctrines/moral issues from the bible) we do not defer in those - but there are many areas that are preferences - and we need to learn to defer for another person's benefit.
"Served the Lord in Tears" - Is that leadership? I thought that was depression! But Paul was vulnerable and broken.
Your ability to lead broken people is directly related to how well you understand your own brokenness - Rob Bell
You could put the words sinfulness or failure in there. If you are leading in the world, you will be leading sinners.
We are unwilling to understand who we are - we have a hard time going in and seeing it - it is too dirty, yucky, and hurts too much! It makes us uncomfortable to go in and open it.
Trials - He served the Lord in humility, tears, and trials. Imagine the ad - you can cry and go through bad stuff - join me! What this says - when difficult times come - there is a decision to be made. We can sacrifice for the good of others or take care of ourselves. The example so far ahs been the latter. God is calling us in difficult times to sacrifice.
Acts 20:20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
First he defends his conduct - then - he declared/proclaimed the truth. It is interesting - very simple. Ministers are to proclaim God's word. It is not to reach the goals or accomplish the purposes or grow the organization (all fine things) but to proclaim the truth - it is the truth - the message - that matters - not the messenger. Paul kept it simple - the gospel message - he never went beyond it to promote himself - he promoted one thing - the gospel message.
So much of leadership is public - but it must first be private and simple. Repentance - Paul was not afraid to call people to turn from their own way of thinking and their sin - -but to turn to God's way - to repent. Then - to faith. To believe that Christ died on the cross for their sins -that is the gospel. Through that we have life.
Acts 20:22 "And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.
Can you imagine if God came to you today and said - bonds and affliction wait for you everywhere you go! You might consider something else! Paul says - 24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God."
It is one thing when life hits you - but when God tells you it is going to be like this the rest of your life and is not going to get any better! -
How did we get here? We'll look at that in a second. We are not to the place where we can say that our life is not dear unto ourselves. Ask my wife - I get a little cut and complain for three days.
Acts 20: 25 "And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will see my face no more. 26 "Therefore I testify to you this day, that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
It was not easy, but it was a guilt free life. I did not shrink...
There is this leadership of humility - that is unselfish and willing to sacrifice
Courageous. Paul held back nothing. He proclaimed the whole truth - the hard stuff - the difficult things. Paul was not afraid to do it - to call others to the same life he was living. It is one thing to live a life of sacrifice - but it is another to tell others to do the same.
Here is Paul's leadership - you look at it and say - no way, I fall so short - it is easy to clock out - why even try? Paul felt the same way.
Phil. 3: 10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
To know Christ is to know His suffering
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained [it], or have already become perfect (I'm not there yet!), but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet (I'm not there! I'm still struggling!); but one thing [I do]: forgetting what [lies] behind and reaching forward to what [lies] ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same [standard] to which we have attained.
When you look at yourself and realize you are not there - you see the failure and how you have fallen short - you need to forget. All of us have things in the past that we will look back at and think why? You need to forget this and to begin moving forward.
Maybe you have maxed out your credit card. Right now - at this point - you can begin - move forward here. Start where He has you now. You can always begin right where you are. You've been messing up your marriage - you can start now. With God, you can still win the prize - it is not over - the future can be redeemed. You can get the future back - and to achieve what God has called you to - But he says - one thing you must do - forget. Not just forget - but to stretch- Commit yourself from this moment - what does God want from me?
You can gain the prize
Father, help us to move forward. Lord, as we think about this leadership example - humility - sacrifice, tears, courage - how we have fallen short in our arena of spiritual influence - may we forget what lies behind and press forward to what lies ahead.