Leaders do not just set an example for others in their actions. They set an example for those they lead in matters of the heart. Therefore, leaders must be vulnerable, transparent, and willing to constantly be transformed in their character. Leaders must depart from iniquity and teach those they lead to do the same. Iniquity is not sin. Iniquity is an issue of the heart. It is a weakness within that is vulnerable to transgression and thus it leads us to be disconnected from our true life source, which is God. Iniquity leads to transgression, transgression leads to sin, and the result of sin is death. The root of it all is in the iniquities of our hearts. Iniquities are not places of shame within us; they are the inner marks of weakness that reveal to us a need for and our dependency upon God in who we are. When God visits iniquities they become healed by His grace. An iniquity will leave a tattoo within our lives that reminds us of the amazing grace of God at work within us. God does want us to flee from sin, but being willing to depart from the inner weaknesses that lead to sin is the real issue of change in our lives. How we were born is not necessarily how we were meant to be. We have all been born with inherited strengths and weaknesses. A kingdom of God scribe, who allows the Holy Spirit to write within their hearts and minds, unlocks new things never seen and redeems antique and lost things within their family line. God visiting the inner core of who we are makes us become who we were meant to be. Leaders must willingly embrace this process and seek to lead others into the same.
2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
We must all recognize that in the church there will be both vessels of honor and dishonor. Those that are vessels of dishonor only prove those who are vessels of honor. We must all seek to be vessels of honor and leaders are to set an example for others to follow in this pursuit. A vessel of love is proved to be a vessel of love when faced with a vessel of hate. A vessel of forgiveness is proved to be a vessel of forgiveness when faced with a vessel of unforgiveness. Leaders must be examples in seeking to be vessels of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. The testimony of being children of God is to make decisions for others based upon who we are in Christ, not what others deserve outside of Christ. This is not merely a matter of our actions, but a matter of our hearts.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
Leaders set an example and teach others to flee youthful lusts, and to pursue righteous, faith, love, and peace. True righteousness is a dependency upon God, not a focus of mere self-discipline to do right things. Faith is a supernatural testimony of intimacy with God and hearing His voice within our hearts. It defies natural sight and empowers us to be faithful to God in all things. Love is measured by a willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of others. Peace is the testimony of no gap between God and us. These are attributes of true life and leaders are more concerned with these characteristics in their lives more than works, events, projects, or any kind of gifts in ministry.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Leaders must know how to avoid foolish and stupid disputes. These things do not produce life but only create strife. Our words must give life to others, not destroy them. Foolish debates only destroy. This is the way of the world, not the way of the community of God. It is ok for us to disagree with others, but is not ok to be disagreeable in our hearts towards them.
2 Timothy 2:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.
Leaders must not quarrel but be gentle, able to teach, be patient, and in humility correct those who oppose them and what God is giving through them to the church. These are a responsibility carried by those appointed by God to lead in His church. This is not just true for leaders, but leaders must lead in this testimony. The community of God is different then the communities of the world and leaders in God’s community must set an example of the character, nature, way, power, and authority of God.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
The goal of a leader’s correction to those they lead is that God might grant repentance to those who oppose the truth. A leader is willing to bring correction that those in opposition will come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil of which they have been taken captive to do the devil’s will. Correction is not a punishment for being bad. It is a correction to keep someone in the path of life. Leaders must know that correction is an act of love and they must never shy away from the responsibility of correcting those they are responsible for. That correction must be in agreement with the Holy Spirit in the life of each believer so each one receives the true transformation than can only come by God working in the human heart. Correction is never merely about our actions, it is about our hearts.
Correction is a blessing and not a curse. God corrects us because He loves us. His correction is not a thing of shame, but a willingness on God’s part to keep us in the path of life. Leadership has a responsibility of bringing correction to those they lead when it is necessary.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson