The Real Truth about Church Leaders

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The Real Truth About Church Leaders

Malachi 2:4–9 NKJV
Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, That My covenant with Levi may continue,” Says the Lord of hosts. “My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, And I gave them to him that he might fear Me; So he feared Me And was reverent before My name. The law of truth was in his mouth, And injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, And turned many away from iniquity. “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says the Lord of hosts. “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base Before all the people, Because you have not kept My ways But have shown partiality in the law.”
Introduction: It is no secret that pastors and church leaders live in a fish bowl.
Illustration: A pastor preached a sermon on honesty one Sunday. On Monday morning he took the bus to get to his office. He paid the fare, and the bus driver gave him back too much change. During the rest of the journey, the pastor was rationalizing how God had provided him with some extra money he needed for the week. But he just could not live with himself, and before he got off the bus he said to the driver, “You have made a mistake. You’ve given me too much change.” And he proceeded to give him back the extra money. The driver smiled and said, “There was no mistake. I was at your church yesterday and heard you preach on honesty. So I decided to put you to a test this morning.”717
Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (pp. 204–205). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Ted Haggard, Perry Noble, Jim Bakker, Creflo Dollar, Robert Bentley, Mark Driscoll, Bob McDonell, Jimmy Swaggart, and Rob Bell. What do all of these men have in common? They are all pastors, evangelist, deacons or other Church leaders who have either fallen into sexual sin, greed, addictions or distortions of God’s Word. These men failed the test not just with a little bit of extra change.
I stand before you this morning saying only but by the grace of God there go I. The call to become a leader in the Body of Christ, the church is assuredly a high calling, and the higher you are, at times the harder you can fall and cause much more damage. The life of God’s anointed leader must reflect the Holiness which God calls them to preach and teach about, and from the chosen text today it can bee seen that the problem of defiled and distorted leadership is not a problem of recent history.
Being a priest meant speaking to the people for God and standing before God for the people. Moses and Aaron were decedents of Levi thus from the tribe of Levi, and the priesthood would be transferred through the generations of Aaron. In -
Joshua 18:7 HCSB
But the Levites among you do not get a portion, because their inheritance is the priesthood of the Lord. Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh have taken their inheritance beyond the Jordan to the east, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave them.”
we find the Lord withholding the inheritance of the promised land from this tribe because they would receive something far greater, God and the priesthood.
Deuteronomy 17:9 HCSB
You are to go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who presides at that time. Ask, and they will give you a verdict in the case.
reveals to us that the priest were to be promoters of peace among the people by mitigating disputes that would arise among God’s people. They were to discern God’s will in such things.
Leviticus 10:11 HCSB
and teach the Israelites all the statutes that the Lord has given to them through Moses.”
reveals to us that the people were to learn how to live according to the ways of God from the priest. They were to give guidance and counsel to the people in times of need.
Therefore, the first truth we can establish from Malachi’s message to the priest and from much of the rest of scripture is:
Being a Christian/Church Leader is a great privilege that carries an even greater responsibility .
Malachi is God’s messenger conveying the condemnation of God to the party guilty of breaching the covenant God made with the tribe of Levi. They were guilty of:
v.8 - “turning from God’s way” - their failure in ministry began in another place, their morals of their personal life.
Illustration: A fellow BCF Alum recently did a FB survey of other Alum asking if they were still in the ministry and asked how long, and if not the reason. One of the respondents responded with a story of going to his 1st or 2nd church to pastor and discovering the music minister living in moral failure, long term affair for decades, yet still on staff at the church. Deacons, church leaders and members all knew about it, and many were mad at the pastor when he lead the leadership to finally remove him in a biblical manner. The music guy was a prominent and powerful member of the community and crucified the pastor and family with gossip.
You can’t make this stuff up, but it can be prevented by the leader remaining in the way of God.
“caused many to fall by their teaching” - a priest faithfully following and instructing others in God’s laws, principles and ways will lead many to repentance of sin and submission to God. These unfaithful priest had led people astray into sin destroying and scattering the sheep.
“brought corruption into the covenant” - they no longer lived up to the standard set by their ancestor in service to the Lord.
Numbers 25:10–13 HCSB
The Lord spoke to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites because he was zealous among them with My zeal, so that I did not destroy the Israelites in My zeal. Therefore declare: I grant him My covenant of peace. It will be a covenant of perpetual priesthood for him and his future descendants, because he was zealous for his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”
These priest had long treated God with disdain and contempt. They showed no awe or reverence of God and His ministry. The priest were the source of pollution in the house of God.
v.9 - “were partial to certain people over others” - It causes the ones favored to act with arrogance and pride. Showing favoritism is something detestable to God. The Bible in James specifically speaks against it in the church.
The real truth is there are some responsibilities incumbent upon Christian/Church leaders to be:
A. Godly examples to whom people look. (and consequently follow)
People will follow godly leaders because they see in them a deep zeal like Phinehas the priest had, like Nehemiah had, like David had for the Lord. They follow those with a deep fear of the Lord standing in awe and reverence of who God is and what He is able to do.
v.6 - God says that the ideal priest or leader “walks with Him.” This was said of two other people in scripture; Noah, whom God spared from destruction and through whom He carried on the human race, and Enoch whom scriptures says just kept on walking with God carried away into heaven w/o dying. We get from that the picture of walking with God is going in the same direction as Him.
Leaders lead people in the direction of God. We know that God never changes but too many leaders or Christians live as if God has stopped doing and moving. Leaders thus lead people from where they are to where God is, which is usually different from where they are.
Complacency is being stuck in a rut and not caring you are there. Do you know the difference in a rut and a grave? One is closed on both ends. The essence of true godly leadership is change where God is leading it, and the essence of true Christ following is going where God is leading through the leader.
The real truth about Christian leaders is the people will not know where God is leading the leader without them being:
B. Biblical teachers from whom people learn. (and consequently teach others- making disciples)
v.7 - the word in instruction is translated from the Hebrew word torah - 1st Five Books: History of Creation, Story of Redemption, Laws and instruction given to Moses. People will learn from him/her the truths of the Bible and that the Bible is true.
In Ephesians, we find coming from the Spirit of God a blueprint to produce a healthy and growing church.
Ephesians 4:11–13 HCSB
And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
One of the underlying and fundamental task of a pastor and church leaders is that of teacher of the people, but (listen to me all you leaders) teachers are to be pastors to their people. Necessary to doing the Great Commission - “making disciples” - only possible with teaching the Bible.
Illustration: A HS teacher in Mass. intended to teach a Bible as Literature class so decided to ask a pre-quiz. Some of the teens thought Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers, Jezebel was Ahabs donkey, the 4 horsemen appeared on the Acropolis, Eve was created from an apple, Jesus was baptized by Moses (maybe in the Red Sea), and Golgotha was the name of the giant killed by David, not where Jesus died.
A Christian leader will seek and secure knowledge of God, and he/she will pass it on to others from his/her generation down to the next and then the next.
“A teachers vision is a changed life, and, in this case, one transformed into Christlikeness.” - unknown (Seen in the above passage)
The Gospel is what has the power to transform. The real truth about Christian leaders is they must be:
C. Gospel preachers to whom people listen. (and consequently are invited to follow Jesus in repentance and commitment)
v.7 - The OT priest were intended to be the go-between of God and people, regularly talking to God for the people and to the people for God.
A true ChristiaBy his/her message and example people are turned away from sin.
By the message and example of true Christian leaders, people are turned away from sin. True Christian leaders pray for and preach the gospel to those who are lost, dying without salvation of their soul by Christ.
By his/her message and example people are turned away from sin.
Some preachers like Rob Bell and Joel Osteen want to preach a gospel of a God without wrath, men and women without sin, and a heaven without hell, Christ w/o a cross, and Christianity w/o commitment. (An important rule of leadership “Don’t allow the patient to prescribe the medicine.”)
Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (p. 214). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (p. 214). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
A true Christian leader stands on the infallible, inerrant Word of God, preaches everything about God, doesn’t seek the pleasing of people rather trusts God for the results.
Illustration: I remember as a kid my phone was not in my pocket but on my wall at home. I also remember that if I thought the clock on my wall was wrong, I did not keep living according to it. My mom taught me to pick up that phone and call the number to give me the correct time and change my clock.
I remember as a kid my phone was not in my pocket but on my wall at home. I also remember that if I thought the clock on my wall was wrong, I did not keep living according to it. My mom taught me to pick up that phone and call the number to give me the correct time and change my clock.
The real truth about Christian leaders is they will not always be the leaders they should be, some times unintentionally but most times intentionally. The real truth is:
When Christian leaders are not, Jesus is always a faithful leader.
Every book of the Bible is ultimately about Jesus. Preachers are taught that proper Biblical sermons, at the right time, make a beeline for Jesus. No book of the Bible better presents Jesus as sufficient and superior to those Biblical leaders with flaws than the book of Hebrews. He is shown as the Great shepherd the Great High priest. When you read it: note the language: “better,”“not copies,”“not repeatedly,”“once for all,” and “offered once.” The work of Christ is singular, definitive, absolute and superior.
He is the perfect Levi, the perfect example, the perfect teacher, the perfect preacher of the gospel. He stands as the priest for His people before God the father. He is the Holy place. The real truth is because of Christ and in Christ we can. There is another truth often over looked.
The doctrine of Priesthood of believers requires every Christian to live out these responsibilities.
You must fulfill these because you have been given the privileges of the inheritance of God. God in Christi has made you a holy nation of royal priest.
1 Peter 2:9 HCSB
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
All Christians are leaders in some aspect. Fathers and Mothers, bosses and managers, sisters and brothers, teachers and administration, friends and neighbors. Every Christian is called to live a holy life so they can use it as an opportunity to lead people to salvation in Jesus Christ.
Conclusion: Some of you have volunteered to be leaders here at JFBC. Some of you either are or are desiring to be teachers. All of us need to always keep James’ warning of being held accountable to a higher degree for how we teach and lead.
Some of you have witnessed and been hurt by unfaithful leaders in the church. I encourage you to not live your live by an out of time clock on the wall but to pick up the Bible, asking God to show you the perfect example of Jesus and change your clock so you can live right again. Some of you may be leaders who need to do the same because in your heart you are not walking with God.
Some of you need to step up as Christians and take on the responsibility of leading the people in your life.
Some of you may stare too much at the fish bowl that pastors and leaders live in waiting like a cat for the fish to jump out. Let me encourage you to stare with your eyes closed in prayer. Praying for their: message, purity, marriage, protection, and ministry.

Invitation to Respond

How do you need to respond to God’s leading today? Is it in repentance to salvation? Is it in repentance to going again in the same direction as God. Is it just to pray?
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