LIFESTYLE LEADERSHIP: Attitude Toward Others

LIFESTYLE LEADERSHIP: Attitude Toward Others
By W.H. Cook

“Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5).

In the previous discussions, we looked at the calling of the “ekklesia” of Christ. The “called out assembly” of priests for His Holy Kingdom. We have taken note of the need for all of His children to recognize that we ARE LEADERS – we have no choice in the matter.  The choice that we do have is to allow God to perform HIS perfect work THROUGH us in whatever capacity that God has for each of us to fulfill. The verse above shows that the ultimate objective of Scripture, especially the New Testament, is to teach and produce Agape love toward others – to believers and non believers, alike. The second emphasis is to have a good conscience about ourselves, and finally, a TRUE faith in God. This is the foundation for a life of
JOY. By using the first letters of Joy, we reveal how we have joy.

Jesus first, others second, and yourself last.

We now need to look at the lifestyle traits that the leader should reflect to enhance the relationship of the leader with those who will follow.

NEW CREATURE ATTITUDE

“Therefore, if ANY man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly informs each of us that we can do NOTHING without Him, and we can only allow HIM to do something when we are BORN AGAIN. Paul confirms this attitude when he tells the Philippians that “For me to live is Christ.”

In Ephesians 4, Paul instructs us on our relationships with others, in a moral sense, starting in verse 25. In verse 24, Paul admonishes us saying that we must “Put on the New Man” – The ONLY one who can be successful in living with others is Jesus Christ, and Him living through us. ONLY HE can accomplish what Paul is about to instruct. Paul tells us this ‘new man’ is ‘after God’ – recreated in God’s image. This clearly means that the ‘new man’ IS equipped, through God’s work of grace, to accomplish the things that God would have done! Most of us rely on improving our old nature, and God wants us to know that BECAUSE Christ is in our heart we ARE ABLE to live with others and love them as He does. Ephesians 4:24 tells us that THREE things about a disciple are new. The verse gives us a NEW MAN, using NEW MATERIAL and NEW MOTIVES – New motives of RIGHTEOUSNESS and TRUE HOLINESS.

If we put these into our daily lives, the very words ‘success’ or ‘failure’ cease to be a part of our vocabulary! Our ‘success’ will not be based on how well we treat others, but how Christ is allowed to
love them through us. Any ‘success’ then becomes His and His glory.

We must take time to adjust our thinking and really communicate with others – intellect to intellect and spirit to spirit. Ephesians 4:25 tells us that we must be honest in all our interaction with others – not just in a business sense but in a daily environment. In John 1:6, we are exhorted to DO the truth. We must have a lifestyle of honesty with no possible room for reproach. We must live Holy lives if we are to point the way to the Holy and Living Christ.

We must care for others as Christ cares. We must do so with NO ULTERIOR motives, whatsoever! Jesus always saw the lovely in the unlovely, the possible in the impossible. Jesus made it very clear that He wants to show us, buy living within us and being allowed to work through us, that we can experience this same joy.

Ephesians 4:26,27 shows us that a Christian can be angry and, maybe should be angry – but without sin! Anger becomes sinful when it is prompted by our selfishness. Danger lurks in anger as Satan finds
a place to stir our anger to his purposes. Every emotion of a Christian should be the way Christ would have shown it.

Ephesians 4:29 tells us that EACH OF US have a ministry of Grace.

God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense

This ministry, to be effective mandates that our Will is subjected to the will of God. Christ stated, “Not my will, but thine, be done” and left us the perfect example of where our will is to be-at the altar of God.

“Ye are not your own … ye are bought with a price” clearly tells us that we have NO RIGHTS – except that right to give up our rights in favor of the RIGHT of GOD to our very being. As He paid the price for each of us, He is now the one responsible for us.

SERVANT’S HEART

“For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life as ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus thus summed up His life and His mission on earth. In the Old Testament times, to serve God we would take an animal to a hillside, start a fire, sacrifice the animal and present it to God.

Jesus changed all that. This is a fact that we must make an integral part of our daily lives – nothing that WE do is sufficient sacrifice to God since Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Law. Our way to serve God, by the example Christ set down for each of us, is to serve others. The leader must have a lifestyle of offering his own life on the altar of God to be consumed in the flame of God’s unquenchable love, in service to others. John, in his first epistle tells us in verse 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

In the business world, this is reversed. Look at any organization chart in the world. You will see a box with one person’s name in it and then several other lines leading downward to other boxes and more lines leading from these boxes until the lowest position in the company is represented by a box where the lines stop.

Each level of this chart expects and demands service from the levels lower than they. Jesus totally reversed this direction, yet maintained the perfect image of leadership. Read Matthew 20:25-28.

Most of what Jesus taught was revolutionary and against all that man had thought to be best. The world tells us to climb to the top of the ladder – the Bible tells us that the leader will serve all others.

In Luke 12:15, Jesus tells us that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” The world has certainly forgotten this and strives to meet only the physical and material needs as the fulfillment that man needs. The failure to meet the spiritual needs does not eliminate these needs, it only makes man more confused and lost. In living with others, it is our function in God’s plan to point others to the only source of satisfaction of all of man’s desire and longings – we must point them to Jesus Christ.

“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” (Romans 2:9,10)
Living with others is an ART which we seem to have lost as we base more and more of our lives on materialism and mechanical pleasures. The entire world system is the domain of Satan and the
COSMOS is being used by Satan to build up to the final conflict between the world and God. We must be aware that all systems of this world are of Satan, and we are ‘called out’ of that system. The very jobs that we occupy in life, without regard to the spiritual nature that it may have, is the domain of Satan, and we must take measures to have Jesus cleanse us DAILY from the contamination of that necessary contact.

Jesus called us the ‘salt of the earth’, and we cannot ‘salt’ if we remove ourselves from the world. Pious attitude, if removing us from the world is hypocrisy. The Psalmist states many times in different ways that God lifts us UP – not OUT of the world. When we are spiritual, we know this truth; However, when we live Monday through Saturday we find ourselves overlooking this opportunity to be LIKE our Lord, Jesus Christ, the perfect example of a true servant at ALL times. Jesus did all things “as unto the Lord” – do we? It is easier, in the flesh, for my wife to put the dishes in the dishwasher, while I read. It has been a long time since I washed anyone’s feet!  When the OPPORTUNITY to serve another arises, we hide behind ourselves – we state that we don’t have time – or – that we are in the middle of something ‘very important’ – anything but that which will have us ‘lose face’ and serve humbly the needs of another. “I am among you as He that serveth” (Luke 22:27). Are we the one that is in the midst of a group and others can see CHRIST working? The small area of where a spotlight shines can be crowded, but there is always room for the one more servant in the areas where the spotlight does not shine.

We need to look at Stephen. Stephen was full of power and faith.

He was a powerful force of God and had a deep understanding of God’s Word. When the Apostles came to Stephen, he was unaware of what they would ask. In our minds and with his abilities, we might think –
“They probably want me to handle the greatest task!” Then he is told that there was going to be a dinner for Grecian widows and would he serve as a waiter! Stephen eagerly took his place among six others
and waited on the tables. Christ could select only one man to be the first martyr for Him, and Stephen became His choice and occupies the spotlight of history. “But he that is greatest among you shall be
your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:11- 12).

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus gave us the perfect example of being sensitive to the needs of others: “In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto
Him, and saith unto them, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat: And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way:’ for divers of them had come from afar.” (8:1-3)

Let’s remember that Jesus had fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness. If He had been us, He might have said, “Don’t you talk to me about being hungry – why I have gone without eating for 40
days, you complain because of just three! Quit complaining!” Jesus didn’t evaluate His abilities or capacities and expect all others to measure up to them. Jesus recognized that some need more time and
move at a slower pace than He did. Do we? As a leader we work harder, longer – pray more – have more intense hunger for God’s Word – whatever! But, we fail to realize that this is WHY God has chosen us
for leadership among the leaders or ‘ekklesia’ of God.

A leader must be sensitive to the needs of others, compassionate in his relationships with them and get to know each one of them as individuals. All humans need to be recognized for who they are. Individually, and collectively, as leaders we need to recognize this need and invest time with those who show an interest in God. We, as leaders, need to know those whom He sends to us and know their
personal needs and desires.

First Thessalonians 5:14 gives us this instruction: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble- minded, support the weak, be patient to all men.”

Humanity is divided into some categories that each of us can associate with – the UNRULY, the FEEBLE-MINDED, WEAK and ALL MEN. We sometimes fall into one or more of the above, but we always fall into the last one. The unruly refers to a greek term for sheep that do not stay in the flock but go astray and harm themselves. It can also include those who ‘throw in the towel an quit’ when the situation gets
rough. It is easier to quit. This person needs to be handled with ‘kid gloves’ – why? Because this person is a ‘kid’!

The second group is the feeble-minded. This does not require the person to be mentally retarded, it implies a timid person or one who is ‘afraid of his own shadow’ and needs to be held by the hand to
reach a place where they are able to take a step of faith and begin to experience God’s action in their lives. The history of the church has many examples of ‘faint hearts’ who have become bold for the Kingdom because someone took time to lead them to the point where God was able to manifest Himself in their lives.

Next come the weak. These are the ones who are overcome – not overcomers. They are the ones who are losing the battle with sin in their lives. We are told to “Help the weak” and we accomplish this by giving personal time and counsel. In many cases these people are given strength simply by being allowed to talk to someone about their weaknesses. By vocalizing their weaknesses, they become more aware of them and God sets before them the path out of the weakness. It is important that the person is convinced that they may come to the leader and not have their problem ‘let out of the bag’ with others – the leader will keep quiet about all that is discussed between them. Even when a leader changes the names to protect the innocent (or guilty), it is frightening to hear your story being given before others!

We all have to deal with sin in our lives. Some handle it better than others, and these are usable by God to help the others who are ‘weaker’ than they. Many people used by God in mighty ways began their Christian lives overcome by sin, but through the love and compassion of others in the Body, they were nurtured back into the body. The founder of the Navigators had a problem with profanity and foul language and desires. Through the help of a Sunday School teacher, Dawson Trotman was used by God to create one of the most powerful teaching ministries in the world!

We, as leaders, must get to know those who need a fire built under them, and those who need restraints of love around them. We need to recognize, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, those who
are not using their abilities and talents so that we can direct them unto use of these in the Kingdom. We need to be ready to counsel others that the word NO is not improper! Sometimes the word NO is what the Holy Spirit wants us to say to permit His working in the lives of others. Many a witness has been removed by getting in ‘over their heads’ and sinking into an abyss of incomplete efforts. We need
to have the Holy Spirit of God reach into our hearts and give us the discernment of the need of the individuals that HE has placed under us. We need to make it a daily attitude of our prayer as in I Kings
3:9-10:

“Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?”

Pray that God will grant you these requirements of leadership in His Kingdom – A NEW CREATURE ATTITUDE, SERVANT’S HEART and A SENSITIVE SPIRIT. These traits are the building blocks for all other traits that God wants to manifest in each of us. Since we are to lead, these must be crucial to our lives and will result in God’s use of us in a mighty way.

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