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The Point Church


APEDS 2018: Reflections: September 2018

Hello again everyone,

August was a busy month so don’t wonder what happened to the August edition—it didn’t happen! For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts about the next item from our whiteboard offered in the interests of keeping the church leadership conversation going: Learning discipleship—the value of leadership and followership examples.

It seems to me that if we step back to take in the big picture of the many and various biblical texts and examples pertaining to leadership, the fundamental principle comes into view of the more mature leading the less mature. The Old Testament is replete with examples (e.g. Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Moses training Joshua; Elijah mentoring Elisha, et al). In the New Testament, we find Jesus applying this principle in his invitation to discipleship through the analogy of novice oxen that were trained by being yoked to experienced oxen (Matthew 11:29-30). Peter defines the work of an elder (itself a term denoting maturity) as being an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). The writer of Hebrews similarly calls Christians to consider the outcome of their leaders’ way of life and to imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7). Paul describes local church leadership as a noble task to which one might purposefully aspire, and proceeds to describe the sort of experience and spiritual maturity necessary to undertake the task well (1 Timothy 3:1-13). Paul expects that mature women will exemplify godliness and train younger women to do the same (Titus 2:3-5). Paul expects that parents will train their children (Ephesians 6:1-4). Paul reminds Christians that his own example is both deliberate and worthy of imitation, as he in turn imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; cf. Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7). The more mature leading the less mature, who in time will mature to become the leaders and mentors (maturers) of the next generation of believers. The Great Commission depends upon that cycle being perpetuated (Matthew 28:18-20; cf. 2 Timothy 2:2).

For this to work, the more mature need to be prepared (i.e. willing and equipped) to lead. The less mature need to expect to be led and to be willing to follow. Mentoring and training for spiritual growth in the local church should happen by design, not by accident (look again at the second half of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:20). Every babe in Christ needs to be, and should expect to be, fed and nurtured by those who are further along in The Way. And that process should continue throughout one’s journey in Christ. It is a truism that everybody leads somebody. Even a thirteen-year old lives under the watchful gaze of those who are younger and aspire to be a teenager just like them. Whether one has been twelve months or thirty years in the faith, everyone is an example for others … and the way to be an example is to look to Jesus’ life and teaching and start imitating him! No need for modesty or self-conscious doubt—it’s not about you! It’s about following Christ!

What do you think?

Looking forward to seeing you all in Melbourne at the APEDS2020 Conference!

Grace and peace,

Steve Wilson