Godly Preparation For Leadership In Ministry
MA in Christian Leadership — Dallas Theological Seminary
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Preparation for organizational leadership roles in church, parachurch, missions, and marketplace contexts.
The MACL program at DTS is designed to help men and women learn who God has uniquely gifted them to lead in whatever ministry setting they are called to serve.
Students in all of professional MA programs at DTS will be able to:
- demonstrate a general knowledge of the Bible, including a synthetic understanding of the major books;
- evidence an understanding of the historical development of theology, a knowledge of premillennial theology, and an ability to support their theological views and apply them to contemporary issues; and
- evidence an increasing ness to Christ as manifested in love for God, love for others, and the fruit of the Spirit.
Goals for MA in Christian Leadership
In addition to the goals common to all professional degree programs at the seminary, students in this program will be able to:
- develop a biblical philosophy of Christian leadership;
- appraise the leadership needs of an organization;
- design a leadership development plan for an organization; and
- demonstrate transformational leadership skills within an organization.
Sixty-three semester hours of coursework are required as a minimum for graduation.
Of those hours, 22 are in prescribed Bible Exposition courses, 18 hours are in prescribed Systematic Theology courses, 3 are in the Christian Life and Witness course, 15 are leadership related courses from the Division of Ministries and Communication, 1 is in Orientation and Research Methods, and 3 hours are in an internship. A 1-hour summative research project is also required.
Because DTS values Christ character and spiritual maturity, MACL students are required to register for and participate in Spiritual Formation groups for four consecutive fall and spring semesters at either the Dallas, Houston, or Washington DC campus.
(MACL students who are not planning to move to Dallas, Houston, or Washington DC for four consecutive fall and spring semesters must contact the Spiritual Formation Office and apply for an alternative program for completing their Spiritual Formation requirement.
In the Spiritual Formation curriculum, small groups of five to seven students focus on identity, community, integrity, and fidelity. The groups also provide an atmosphere for prayer, fellowship, and the integration of learning with life and ministry.
Because students participate with the same group during four consecutive semesters, they should plan their schedules so they may meet on the same day and at the same time each semester. Spiritual Formation is a noncredit, transcripted experience. Internship prerequisites include successful completion of SF100-1, EML101, and completion of half of their DTS course work.Additional Spiritual Formation courses focusing on leadership may be taken as electives.
Students in the MA in Christian Leadership (MACL) program are required to take MinistrySafe’s Sexual Abuse Awareness Training.
The Mobile MACL is designed to allow qualifying students to stay in their current ministry while completing the requirements for the degree. The Mobile MACL is a cohort delivery model that allows students in a particular locale to go through the program together.
DTS partners with local church and parachurch ministries to offer the degree. Locations are approved by the seminary as needed and when a sufficient number of students to comprise a cohort are enrolled in the program. DTS currently operates the MACL throughout the world.
The seminary continues to consider new locations at which to offer the Mobile MACL.
The model includes a combination of residential (majority face-to-face) courses at the mobile location, residential courses in Dallas (or at another approved location), and online courses.
In order to minimize time away from work and ministry, the residential courses in Dallas are special week-long courses at four different times during the degree program.
During these weeks students complete online work before coming to Dallas, fulfill the residential requirements for courses in one week at Dallas, and complete online work after returning home. In the end, students spend a total of four weeks in Dallas over the course of the program.
Qualifying students may complete a ministry residency (an internship local to the student with intensives on the Dallas campus). See www.dts.edu/ministryresidency for detailed explanation.
Thus, after 44 hours online and a 12-hour ministry residency, only 9 hours need to be completed in a class room to earn the MACL.
These 9 hours can be completed through week-long intensives in Dallas or Houston, or through regular courses at any of our distance locations approved to offer the degree.
See the many ways students are prepared for a lifetime of fruitful ministryGod has placed our graduates in a variety of settings including traditional church work, parachurch ministries, and schools, as well as in corporations and homes.
Alec and Amy Zacaroli Work Toward Purpose in Washington, DC Dr. Todd Phillips’ Goal to Provide Clean Drinking Water to Liberia Dr. Josh Bleeker – Serving Leaders in Washington, D.C. Meet Dorothy Burton, Founder of Christians in Public Service Janet Pope’s Passion for Scripture Keith Twigg Ministers in Wyoming while Studying Online
Over 90% of DTS students graduate without taking on additional debt. This is possible because of the generosity of our donors who make over 4 million dollars of scholarship funds available every year.
DTS faculty affirm our full doctrinal statement every year, while our diverse community of students are centered around these seven core doctrines of evangelical faith.
the authority and inerrancy of Scripture Christ’s full deity and humanity the spiritual lostness of the human race Christ’s substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection salvation by faith alone in Christ alone the physical return of Christ
The deadline for fall applications as July 1, for spring is November 1, and for summer is April 1.
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Sermon Notes: How God prepared Joseph for Leadership?
Leonard Ravenhill in “The Last Days Newsletter” tells about a group of tourists who were visiting a picturesque village. As they walked by an old man sitting beside a fence, one tourist asked in a patronizing way, “Were any great men born in this village?”
The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”
He was right. Leadership is developed. Not discovered. In today’s sermon, we are going to learn how God did just that with the man called Joseph and why it is still relevant to us.
Text Genesis 37:1-36; 39:1-23; 40:1-23; 41:1-57
1. Character Formation
Joseph was actually a spoiled brat, (Genesis 37:3). He was proud and egoistic, (Genesis 37:2; 37:5-7; 37:9-10). His character needed a transformation before God could actually promote him. Many people became instrumental in his character formation. God used Joseph’s brothers, Potiphar’s wife to name a few.
None of us are born perfect. All of us have at least tiny flaws in our character.
God cannot promote us to lead the way we are because these flaws in character have a direct impact on the way we lead.
Not that God couldn’t appoint Joseph as the Governor of Egypt overnight, but had he done that, Joseph would have been a very bad leader and brought upon a great disaster on everyone who trusted him.
Every leader whether they it or not must walk through this period of character formation. Often this is not a pleasant experience. But this is an essential ingredient for successful leadership.Leaders who skip this step are nothing more than half baked cakes. Jesus said, “I tell you the solemn truth unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone.
But if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24)
wise, unless a leader suffers and dies to his self he cannot produce God’s expected result. God has to change his leaders before he can use them as agents of change in the world.
The late president of Africa Nelson Mandela serves as a great example here. John Battersby a former correspondent for The New York Times said this about him.
“He was always mindful that his leadership role in the liberation of South Africa from apartheid might not have been possible if he had not been imprisoned.”
2. Sustention of Hope
Ernest Hemingway said, “It is silly not to hope; besides I believe it is a sin”. Joseph’s journey toward leadership was full of fluctuations. But his hope for God remained at the same level. Given below are the fluctuations we see in the life of Joseph.
(A) Secure and comfortable, (Genesis 37:3-4)
(B) Sold to slavery, (Genesis 37:26-27; 36)
(C) Received Potiphar’s favor, (Genesis 39:4)
(D) Falsely accused and imprisoned, (Genesis 39:20)
(E) Received the prison warden’s favor, (Genesis 39:21-22)
(F) Interpreted the dreams, (Genesis 40:1-20)
(G) Forgotten and left behind, (Genesis 40:23)
(H) Interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, (Genesis 41:1-40)
(I) Became the Governor of Egypt, (Genesis 41:40-46)
Opportunity is how God responds to leaders who place their hope in him. But hope without faithfulness is futile. God gave Joseph the opportunity of a lifetime because he remained faithful to both God and man even when he was placed under literally unbearable pressure, (Genesis 39:7-9; 22).
Preparation is the price we pay to become great leaders. Joseph was only 16 years old when his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelite traders. The Pharaoh appointed him as the Governor of Egypt when he was thirty. God spent 14 years just preparing his chosen leader. Preparation takes time and lets us be patient and not lose heart during the most difficult stages of our preparation.
Last Updated: June 13th 2019
(If this sermon was helpful to you please consider leaving your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. It would be a great encouragement to me personally.)
10 Ways to Be a Better Youth Leader
A lot of Christians think they aren’t cut out for youth ministry. But if you love Jesus and you care about kids, everything else falls into place.
In my five years working with middle school students I’ve met multiple 80 year olds who are incredible youth leaders—and it’s not for their spunky personalities and crazy dance skills. They love Jesus and they love kids. When you boil it down, that’s what really matters.
If you start with Jesus, all of the intricacies of youth leading should align conceptually, biblically, and practically. You should be able to trace everything back to Jesus.
Here are ten things every youth leader should know:
1. Have a purpose for everything
Let’s be honest. From the outside looking in, there’s a lot of weird stuff that happens at youth groups. Beach ball ballet, cricket-spitting contests, fruit baseball, and an endless list of games, skits, and programs that don’t seem in any way connected to sharing the gospel.
But if you know the purpose behind each component, then even the goofy and weird parts make sense.
Some games give lonely, left out, or neglected kids the chance to be noticed, cheered, and celebrated. Other games force kids to work together—regardless of who they’re friends with at school.
Wacky leader skits can create laughter, break down walls, and show kids that there is a child joy in everyone. For leaders, those same activities can offer an opportunity to step their own comfort zone and put kids before themselves.
I’ve worked with leaders who refused to put themselves in front of kids and be goofy alongside them because “it wasn’t their gifting.
” It’s definitely important to recognize what you’re good at and what you’re not good at (so you know how you’re best suited to serve your team), but if we understand the why behind each aspect of youth group, it becomes a lot less about us and a lot more about the kids, Jesus, and the ways we let God use us.
2. Humble yourself
The more cool, holy, or amazing you present yourself as, the more distant kids will feel from you.
You’re also the person who happens to be proclaiming the gospel and sharing about Jesus—do the math.
Leaders should show kids that Jesus meets them right where they are, loves them as they are, and desires to be a part of their lives right now—not once they become as cool, holy, and amazing as their leaders.
When Kids Hurt is a great resource to help you navigate the adolescent world.
You were a kid once. If you’re made of flesh and blood, you probably sinned once, too. It’s not always best to share all the details of your sin without a relational foundation, but the more vulnerable you are with kids, the more ly they are to share the sin in their lives too. If we hide, so do they.Humility isn’t just important for our relationships with kids. If you serve in a youth ministry, chances are good that you work with a team of volunteers.
Serving in ministry together is a surprisingly dangerous opportunity for selfishness to creep into our lives. It’s easy to feel by being on the team we are fulfilling our duties, checking the box, or doing our time.
But if you’ve committed to being a part of the team, share the load. Don’t dump everything onto one person—especially not the person giving the message.
If someone else on your team is directly communicating the gospel, help that leader give kids their best by allowing them to focus on preparing their message.
3. Seek the kids in the corners
No matter how awesome your youth group is, there will always be kids in the corners. The ones who show up because their parents made them come, or a cute boy or girl is there too.
They think the games are dumb and the leaders are weird. Or maybe they just want everyone else to think they’re too cool to be there.
Either way, God has brought them to your youth group, and he’s entrusted them to you for an hour or two each week.
Sometimes kids genuinely aren’t interested in what’s going on, and you can’t and shouldn’t force them to join in. But sometimes kids stand in the corners to see if anyone will notice.
If a kid without friends comes to youth group, where he/she doesn’t have friends, how do you make the body of Christ look different than school? Involve them. Love them. Imitate God’s relentless pursuit of their hearts.
The gospel isn’t boring. A lot of kids think it is, because their only exposure to it is from reading a translation of a 2,000-year-old book, or listening to messages crafted for adults. Jim Rayburn, founder of Young Life (a youth ministry designed for kids who don’t go to church), once said “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.
” Whether or not you agree with Rayburn, Christians can’t overlook the potential damage of presenting the most exciting truth in the history of the world as stale, old, and irrelevant. The Bible is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), and there are countless ways to show kids that the life and truth it contains is applicable to their lives today.
5. Know your kids
Knowing your kids means more than just knowing who they are. It means knowing how they will respond to different situations, and preparing your events with them in mind.
Some kids love being the center of attention, and some kids fall apart when you put them in front of a group. It’s important to give kids equal opportunity to shine, but the risk of humiliating a kid or making them feel alone and outcast is not worth the potential reward of making them feel adored.
If a kid is checking out your youth group for the first time and you’ve never had any interaction with them, you might want to be careful about throwing them into a game that requires them to be outgoing and comfortable in front of everyone.It’s also important to know where your kids are at spiritually. This doesn’t mean you should ask every kid who comes through the door, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Those conversations should happen, but not before you develop a relationship with them and earn the right to ask those deeply intimate questions.
There are countless reasons why a kid might walk in through the doors of your youth ministry, and a lot of them aren’t Jesus (at least, not from the kid’s perspective).
Over-spiritualizing a kid’s experience can actually prevent them from having a spiritual experience. St. Francis of Assisi is often attributed with saying, “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words.
” Youth ministry is an excellent context to practice reflecting Christ through the way you love and live.
6. Don’t embarrass kids*
Kids live in constant fear of humiliation. The last place they should have to live out their worst nightmares is at youth group—where they are also learning that they are loved and valued by God.
*See #5 and #1. If you know a kid well enough and you’re confident that their class-clown spirit will allow them to embrace and appreciate the experience, and the embarrassment serves a purpose, mild embarrassment may be acceptable.
7. Meet parents
You could be the nicest, most caring and trustworthy person on the planet, but if parents don’t know you, how can you expect them to trust you with their kids?
Building a relationship with parents is especially important for middle school and elementary school ministries, where kids are fully dependent on their parents to even be able to show up at your events. Sometimes meeting parents is effortless because they actively seek out the leaders who work with their kids. Other times, meeting parents takes work.
Even if they don’t care who you are or who their kids hang out with, it will always be worth it to you in your ministry to get to know the people who have raised the kids God has placed at your feet.
When kids leave, walk them out to whoever picks them up. Better yet, offer to give them a ride, and use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself to their parents.
Don’t let the inside of the church be the only place your life overlaps with your kids’.
8. Put your relationship with Jesus first
This may seem selfish in a way, but the reality is, the more we put Jesus first, the more we love those around us. When you put your relationship with Jesus first, the purpose and significance of everything you do and say to others is amplified, not reduced.
Phrases , “You can only lead someone as far as you’ve gone” may be cliché, but they still carry weight.
If you aren’t pursuing your own relationship with Jesus, how can you honestly encourage kids that it’s important to their faith? If you aren’t reading your Bible, praying, and surrounding yourself with Christians who are wiser than yourself, you aren’t offering your best to your ministry, your kids, or God. These are your tools of the trade, and if you aren’t using your tools, how can you do your job?
9. Honor your commitment
Hopefully getting involved with a youth group wasn’t just a passing fancy you had in church one day. Stepping into ministry of any kind is something that should be prayerfully considered, discussed with God and with wise people in your life, and surrounded with spiritual preparation.
If you’ve committed to leading kids at your church or through another ministry, honor God, your kids, and the leaders on your team by being trustworthy, accountable, and invested in the work you are doing together.
Today’s kids have been dubbed “the fatherless generation.” Youth leaders can’t abandon them too. Leaving ministry should be considered just as carefully and prayerfully as entering it.
10. Get a mentor
One of the biggest dangers facing people in ministry is burnout. It’s easy to be excited about something when you first get going, but after a couple years, or a decade, how do you stay excited? And more importantly, how do you draw from your experience while still treating each experience and each kid as something entirely new and wonderful?
The key is having a mentor.
If you are constantly pouring into the lives of kids and nobody is pouring into you, sooner or later you’re going to feel empty. Whether that mentor is a pastor, a more experienced leader, or a wise friend from church, you need somebody who can offer you fresh perspective, hold you accountable, pray for you, love you, and inspire you to keep going (Hebrews 10:24).
What else do you think youth leaders should know? Tell us in the comments!
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9 Essential Qualities of a Godly Leader
A quick search of books on Amazon.com on the topic of “leadership” currently yields 137,827 results, with new titles added regularly. There are countless experts and self-proclaimed gurus who speak often on the topic. And, if you don’t believe me, search #leadership on and you’ll find some of them.
Yet with all of this at our fingertips, we still suffer from leadership deficiency – in our nation, workplaces, churches and homes.
We have too many leaders who believe their position mandates their influence, rather than their influence enabling them to be effective in their position.
Many of today’s leaders lead by forced coercion — a “my way or the highway” mindset that makes them more dictators.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The leader leads, and the boss drives. The Boss often plays the Boss Card. They force obedience, strictly because of their position and status. But, as author and expert John Maxwell says, “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another.”
As you are reading this, odds are you are picturing someone you know in a leadership position that drives more than they lead. I know I am picturing someone as I write. I also have to quickly examine my own life.God has placed all of us in a position of leadership, if not in our workplaces or churches, then certainly in our homes as parents.
I know there have been times when I don’t exemplify the qualities of a Godly leader. I don’t want to knock all of the great books out there on leadership.
There are some terrific resources available from people who know far more about the topic than many of us do.
But, there’s one resource that has a lot to say on the topic of effective leadership, and it’s available for free. You can actually access it right on your phone. It’s the Bible, and the passage is Proverbs 16. Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait. This chapter is chock full of leadership lessons. Below are nine principles that are critical characteristics of a good, godly leader.
A good leader seeks God’s direction
Is there anything more important in a leader than he or she seeking God’s direction? Proverbs 16:1 says “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
” Verse 3 adds, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” And verse 9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
” A good leader seeks the Lord, commits his way to the Lord, and the Lord establishes the next steps.
A good leader is modest, not arrogant
We’ve all encountered the know-it-all leader, the “submit-or-else” type of leader. But Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to be referred to as an abomination to the Lord. That’s some pretty scary stuff.
Proverbs 16:7 says “When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Yet so many leaders aren’t interested in examining an opposing viewpoint or other ideas.
We’ve lost the ability to empathize with others, and compromise has become a bad word. There’s something to be said of sticking to principles. I believe God calls us to be steadfast. He doesn’t however, call us to be jerks.
And, when our “boldness” is interpreted as “coldness,” we are not doing it right.
A good leader is fair and just
“Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice” (Proverbs 16:8). I believe in goals, and working hard to achieve them. But, the end always justifying the means is simply not true. A good leader is more interested in doing things the right way.
A good leader surrounds himself or herself with honest, trustworthy counselors … and then listens to them
“Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right” (Proverbs 16:13).
Do you know leaders who surround themselves with “yes” people? Personal insecurity drives them to seek only positive reinforcement for every decision they make.
A smart leader surrounds himself or herself with smarter people, who are willing to speak their minds and offer sound counsel. After all, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
A good leader is a good learner
Proverbs 16:16 says, “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” A good leader should always be learning, growing and improving. The day you feel there is nothing left to learn is the day that pride and arrogance have taken root. And, we’ve already discussed how the Lord feels about arrogance.
A good leader is humble
We’ve seen countless prominent examples of Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
” From politicians and celebrities to CEOs and pastors, many have grabbed headlines as their empires have fallen. In most of these cases, it’s pride that has crept in. They thought themselves invincible, but quickly found out that no one is.
“It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Proverbs 16:19).
A good leader is sensible and kind
“Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly. The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips” (Proverbs 16:22-23). Being smart and sensible makes a good leader more persuasive and effective. A good leader uses “gracious words” (verse 24), not speech that is “ a scorching fire” (verse 27).
A good leader is slow to anger
We’ve all seen the caricatures in movies and television of the angry boss; the person who yells for no reason, barks orders and berates and demoralizes the staff. Perhaps you’ve even worked for such a person. The Bible says that “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
” As you read through these qualities of a good leader, hopefully you find them as challenging as I do. God tells us how to be effective, godly leaders. It’s up to us to put our human tendencies aside and embrace these principles.
It’s also up to us to pray for those under which we serve, that they too would be the good leaders God wants them to be.
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on .
Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Rebrand Cities
When Godly Leaders Differ
We all know there are plenty of situations in which good people differ. But why do good people differ? And how can we understand and benefit from these differences?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but below are five areas which can easily account for many of the differences godly leaders may have with one another—as well as five ways we can benefit and work through these differences.
Terrie and I now have six grandchildren—two sets of which are siblings. Even at their young ages, it is amazing to me to watch the temperamental and personality differences already beginning to show. In both of these families, there are two children with the same two parents and surroundings—who each have absolutely different preferences, tastes, and approaches to life.
The reality is that we do all have different personalities and temperaments. Even within the twelve apostles, we see this clearly. To mention just a few: There were James and John who Jesus called “the sons of thunder.
” Apparently they had strong personalities. There was Peter who was impetuous. There was Andrew who seemed to have an ability to relate to others. And there was Philip who apparently had organizational capabilities.
And yet, they were all chosen—and used—by Jesus.
Benefiting from temperamental differences: The key to managing temperamental differences is to let the Holy Spirit temper your natural inclinations—including those inclinations that tend to feel rubbed the wrong way by differing temperaments.
But the fruit of the Spirit is…temperance: against such there is no law—Galatians 5:22–23
…be filled with the Spirit;—Ephesians 5:18
Spiritual Giftedness Differences
Beyond differences in temperament, we all have different interests and abilities spiritually. If we expect others to have the same level of passion for the same areas of ministry or the same abilities for the same areas of ministry as we do, we will be constantly frustrated.
Where one leader may be gifted in administration and see the organizational needs required for growth, another leader serving alongside him may have the spiritual gift of prophecy and see the preaching needs required for growth. Put these two gifts—as well as the gifts of mercy, exhortation, teaching, and others— together, and you can see how there could easily be different approaches to the same needs.
Benefiting from spiritual giftedness differences: Learn to recognize and appreciate the spiritual gifts of those around you, and you will be more ly to appreciate their differences in how they approach a given situation as well as their contributions for which they are uniquely suited.
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.—1 Corinthians 12:17–20
I am grateful for my mentors, and I am grateful for the generation coming behind me. From those who have gone before me, I’ve learned doctrinal truths and biblical ministry philosophy. From those coming behind me, I’ve learned fresh perspectives.
Some people ignore generational differences, insisting that younger men should just follow older men. I do believe we should learn from the wisdom of older, godly men. But to pretend that generational differences don’t exist, is simply ignorant.
These differences shouldn’t (and don’t have to) make a rift, but they are real. And sometimes—rather than pressing an issue—it’s better to acknowledge that there is a difference in generational perspective with solid, biblical reasoning on both sides.
Benefiting from generational differences: The key to understanding generational differences is to recognize that every generation needs the one preceding and following.
Where would Timothy have been without Paul? And for that matter, where would Paul have been without Timothy? Timothy needed a mentor, and Paul needed to train a trustworthy leader to whom he could pass the baton.
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.—2 Timothy 2:1–2
Spiritual Walk Differences
We tend to place all differences in this category (generally assuming ourselves to be the one with the stronger spiritual walk), but as we’ve seen, this isn’t always the reason for difference. However, it sometimes is.
The reality is that although we are all being conformed to the image of Christ, we all grow at a different rate. Sometimes friction between two people is simply a matter of spiritual immaturity on one or both sides. (And it’s usually safe to assume it is on our own side.)
Benefiting from spiritual walk differences: The key to overcoming the differences between varying levels of spiritual maturity is charity—especially its aspect of patience. Growth takes time. And sometimes we just need to be kind enough to allow one another to grow.Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,—1 Corinthians 13:4
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.—1 Peter 4:8
In spiritual growth differences, an immature position is ly to be strengthened over time. But in interpretational differences, two godly, doctrinally-sound, spiritually-fruitful leaders may hold a difference of opinion or practice their entire lives—with neither necessarily being right or wrong.
The obvious biblical example of this is that of eating meat offered to idols. Paul said that as a leader, he would choose to limit his liberty so as not to offend, but he made it clear that neither position was necessarily more spiritual than the other. It was a difference of opinion.
Benefiting from interpretational differences: There are two words that will answer almost every interpretational difference—give grace. Grace, of course, is easier to receive than to give, but we are commanded to give it. (I dealt with this topic more thoroughly in the book The Road Ahead, specifically in Chapter 7.)
Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.—Romans 14:3
When it comes to areas that are not biblically mandated one way or another, there is a simple key to minimizing differences: An immature Christian will take a small matter and make it large, while a spiritual Christian will take a large matter and make it small.
Truthfully, differences always look larger when our focus is not on Christ. Our primary attentiveness should be to the Lord, the Word of God, and (in the context of a local church) the ministry of our own pastor and to our church family.
We should never be following any personality—regardless of how godly or fruitful they may be—to the point of holding other godly leaders in derision. (This is what the church in Corinth did—pitting sides around the names of Paul and Apollos.)
May we love and learn from those who have gone before us and from one another—while keeping our focus on Christ!