Coaches & Facilitators – BT9
Biblical “leadership” is a functioning grace-gift of the Holy Spirit, not a natural talent.
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Biblical “leadership” is not a natural talent to “borrow” from the world to use FOR God. This “borrowing” from the world are the stones building The Great Wall that is quenching the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Greek word proistemi is most often translated “leader,” literally meaning “before” (pros) + “to stand” (histemi) before in a location or in time, but its contextual meaning is that of people who take responsibility for admonishing (a) others (b). Since “admonishment” is something all Christians should be doing for one another (c), the word proistemi also carries the idea of specializing in this kind of care-giving, thus to be managed-caregivers (d). Just who are these people? <Notes> a) noutheteo: ‘placing in the mind of’ – urgent reasoning by instruction and warning, b) 1 Thessalonians 5:12, c) Colossians 3:16, 2 Thessalonians 3:15, d) Titus 3:8, 14.
Elders (presbuteros) in the Church are “before” (pros) others “in time,” simply because they came earlier in The trusting-relying-Faith and thus are naturally suited for “proistemi responsibility of being before others as managed-caregivers,” and honored for such service (a). However, there are young believers that are far more mature in their trusting-relying-faith than older believers, so we are not to despise these youth (c), even treating them as elders as Paul likely did for Timothy since he was giving Timothy rules for elders to obey (d). This doesn’t make them bossy “rulers” as too many translations imply! They aren’t to use a condescending, harsh, micro-managing style that we’ve seen all too often in the world, yet many in the Church have “borrowed” this model from the world! No, this proistemi managed-caregiving is the same approach elders are to have for taking good care of their own children without losing their own dignity, respect, honor, and admiration (b). <Notes> a) 1 Timothy 5:17, b) 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 12, c) 1 Timothy 4:12, d) 1 Timothy 5:17-19.
How do elders like parents keep from loosing the submissiveness (a) of those they are to be managed-caregivers (d) of in order to retain their own honor? The world tries many things like yelling, beating, grounding, etc. The Lord doesn’t treat His kids this way, and so the bible is full of instruction on godly parenting, like “Fathers, do not in possibility provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in/by/with the little-child-tutorage (b) and instruction of the Lord” (c). <Notes> a) hupotage, from hupotasso = assign/put in order/appoint a ‘military’ post/duties under, b) paideia: elementary home-schooling, c) Ephesians 6:4, proistemi.
There is much written in the bible about this gentle, unconditionally-loving approach to teaching little children – see BT11 Least Among You. I’ve taught hundreds of elementary and middle-school kids and you have to handle them with great care, because being fragile they can easily break. But if you honor, respect, and show them dignity you get this back. If you yell, criticize, make fun of them, or berate them, you will hurt them, build distrust and anger and resentment, and their little brains/hearts can’t process it, they will start “acting out” in unpredictable ways, and you will “loose their submissiveness.” Why? Because you lost your own self-control!
How many bosses in this world have treated you like an unconditionally-loving father, gently correcting your mistakes or outright rebellion? Surely this is a grace-gift of God! The problem with most of this world’s leaders, and too many in churches, is that they have “conformed to or been pressed into the pattern of this world” – thus building The Great Wall quenching the Spirit in the Church – and certainly have not “been metamorphically transformed by the renewal of their minds to . . . discern the will of God” – see New Covenant Ways – BT16. For this reason, they don’t heed Paul’s warning in Romans 12:2-10: “that everyone among you are not in possibility to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think, but instead to think with a temperate/sound mind (a), each down-from/according-to the [singular] measuring-cup (b) of/belonging to trusting-relying-faith (c) that God has already measured out into portions (d).” In those times the “measuring cup” measured a standard portion of grain or whatever that was being sold to insure fairness and equity for all – a quart is a quart for everyone! But that’s not what a lot of churchmen believe – they believe they either got a bigger measure than the cup could hold or maybe they got multiple cups, even though no scriptures support this idea! <Notes> a) sophroneo, b) metron, c) pistis: relational conviction of trusting reliance, d) merizo.
What is the “temperate-thinking mind” that Paul says that these worldly “high-and-mighty” people in the Church should have instead? The Greek word sophroneo means “safety-minded, safe as to what regulates life like our diaphragm, also derived from phroneo, controls our ability to breathe which controls our heartbeat and thus our life. It also means to have a sober outlook that reflects true balance, truly moderate, controlled to blend the extremities of truth on both side of a matter.” This is really about discernment by the Holy Spirit, which even little children can do – see BT8 Least Among You. We will see that Paul is emphasizing the balance of the body’s individual members for the safety and life of the entire body, in this case the Body-of-Christ!
Again, the metron measuring-cup was a device used in a marketplace to insure that nobody got more or less than what they paid for. It was used to insure that their scales were “balanced” or fair, one side equal with the other. God is the one who distributed to each one of us so that the Body-of-Christ is balanced and fair. It was done “already” before we came around, so it wasn’t based on our talents or our worth, but by unconditional-favor-of-grace. He is not measuring out trusting-relying-faith with this device as too many translations imply. The genitive of possession means the measuring-cup belongs to a [singular] trusting-relying-faith, not various amounts of faith as if kernels of corn! When Paul talks about [singular] trusting-relying-faith, he is talking about the difference between Christianity and all religions, especially the Jewish one, just as Jude 1:3 identifies this as “The trusting-relying-faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” – the same for ALL!
All religion, including the OT one, are based on works that merit favor from God, but Christianity is all about receiving the unconditional-favor-of-grace of God by trusting-relying-faith. So, contrary to what I’ve heard too many Christians say, God isn’t portioning out “differing, unequal or unbalanced” grace-gifts based on the amount of trusting-relying-faith that each of us has, as if we could merit any of these grace-gifts. Instead the measuring-cup is measuring out in a balanced, fair way solely by God’s will, grace-gifts that are based solely on unconditional-favor-of-grace. Here’s the proof in verses 4-6:
“For just as in one [physical] body we have many members and/coupled the members do not all have the same function (a), so we, though many [members], are One Body in Christ, and/thus individually members reciprocally of/belonging to one of another. Having charismata grace-gifts that differ down-from/according-to the unconditional-favor-of-grace given to us, let us use them: prophecy . . . teaching . . . managed-caregiving (b) with zeal . . . Unconditionally-love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Each person in the Church has a different praxis function, but some wanted more honor shown to them, like so many “leaders” in the Church today! <Notes> a) praxis: functions, sustained activities, deeds, and/or responsibilities, b) proistemi.
These different “functions” correspond to the different “grace-gifts.” The Greek word charismata comes from charis, which is our word for unconditional-favor-of-grace. These “grace-gifts” are given to us solely by the unconditional-favor-of-grace of God, by the Spirit of God, thus the term “grace-gifts,” to carry out God’s will in the Church. So much is written about these Spirit’s “grace-endowments” in the NT (a), but one thing is clear about them – they absolutely have nothing to do with our talents, skills, dedication, service, or that God likes or loves any one of us more or less than another. If any of this were true, the grace-gift would not longer be unmerited or unconditional. <Notes> a) Romans 1:1, 5:15-16, 6:23, 11:29, 12:6; 1 Corinthians 1:7, 7:7, 12:4, 9, 28, 30, 31; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Peter 4:10.
As Christian musicians, are we getting our idea of “leadership” from the world or from NT example? Do we realize the NT meaning of “leader” is simply that of being “positioned before others to help manage their care, even by encouraging instruction or corrective warning?” Isn’t this more of the slave or servant role that Jesus spoke so much about if you wanted to be “great” in the kingdom? Is this what you see in many churches? If you have looked “behind the curtain” in many churches, don’t be surprised to see “leaders” losing their cool and using a bossy, authoritative approach to get their way, much like in the world! But how does that inspire us to be like them? This is not the gentle way that Christ teaches us as “little children” nor the way parents should of children. Will we conform to the world’s model of “leadership” or be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” by firstly, not considering ourselves higher than anybody – that’s how we “ought to soberly think” and “outdoing one another in showing honor,” because the Body-of-Christ simply has different functions, none of greater or lesser importance! God has given us ALL the same measuring cup of faith and grace-gifts. Nothing is given based on merit but on unmerited, unconditional-loving favor by the definition of grace!