Grow Deep: Summer DiscipleSHIP, Week 3

Week 3 - June 17-23

Set Sail With Jesus in LeaderSHIP

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD!” Psalm 31:24

“I’m not a leader; I’m a follower.” I have heard that over the years. Staff members, friends, business associates and volunteers have openly stated that they don’t see themselves as having the ability to lead. It’s as though leadership is a special talent, like the ability to sing or like athletic ability. Yet, we all know of situations where leadership came from unlikely sources.

In the 1970s, I was a teacher in a Lutheran elementary school on the East Coast. Each year the sixth-grade students participated in a week of outdoor education that taught them as much about themselves as they learned about the outdoors. I remember once taking a hike through the woods rather than on a trail. Please note that these were basically “city kids” who were not familiar with the forest-like Pennsylvania mountains where the camp was located. Soon I began to hear murmurings about being lost. Comments became complaints, but we continued. As the students became tired and hungry for lunch, I heard more and more statements like, “I know we are lost. How are we going to find our way back?” Then, from the middle of the pack of students, I heard the voice of a child I seldom heard. He was shy around his friends as well as adults. He was laid back and seemed always ready to follow. “Come this way,” he said. “The camp is this way.”

I was really amazed, and all the children followed him. When we returned to camp, I complimented him. He explained that he had gone hunting and camping with his father and had been taught how to find directions in the woods. He added, “Everyone was getting tired and hungry.” What a super leader he was in the right situation.

What a perfect example of how God also provides us with the capability to be leaders for Him. Christ spent most of His time recruiting and training disciples or followers. Yet, these individuals became leaders of the church. Do you see yourself as a leader for God? This week we examine leadership within God’s family.

Sunday, June 17

Read: Psalm 1
The person of faith knows where salvation lies. It lies in Christ. The Psalmist rejoices and praises God for giving each person a way to live. The writer compares those of faith and those whom he calls ungodly. Those of faith know that God’s ways are righteous. They will be blessed. They will be like a tree growing and bearing fruit.

Reflect: In life we make many decisions. We decide to act a certain way, or we decide not to act at all. What life alternatives are pointed out by the author? Can you think of examples of each one and how they affect your life? What are the results of following each alternative? What is the author’s reaction to being given God’s “way of life?” How would that affect decision-making in your life?

For the Family: Think of the biggest, strongest tree you have ever seen. What makes that tree strong? In this Psalm, the writer compares us to a tree. How can we be strong like a big, healthy tree? Pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God for His Word.

Monday, June 18
Read: 1 Corinthians 4:14-17
The Apostle Paul is writing to a congregation that he founded in the town of Corinth. Corinth was a thriving city. It was the center for culture, commerce and social immorality. Those of the city were upheld by their success as well as their social status based on commerce and culture. Paul heard about a faction of the congregation that had fallen from the Word. The congregation had become divided. In this letter, he cautioned the congregation to make decisions according to God’s Word.

Reflect: Do we have the same problems today in our faith community as did the Corinthians? Each day we must make decisions and act accordingly. On what do we base our life actions? What two solutions does Paul present? What is the role of the leaders for our congregation? What did Paul said about Timothy? What was his role in the congregation? Is there a Timothy in your life?

For the Family: In these verses, Paul tells his friends in Corinth to imitate him. What does it mean to imitate someone? Why does Paul want his friends to imitate him? Whose ways should you imitate? Why?

Tuesday, June 19
Read: Luke 3:7-18
John the Baptist confronts a group with a sermon. It is an interesting way of beginning a sermon, but it gets their attention. The first part of John’s sermon warns the people not to rely on their heritage as children of Abraham. The Law of Abraham was the center of the religious life. Rather, he points to the coming of another, Jesus. When John takes away what most of the people relied on, they ask an important question. “What should we do?” John then simply gives each of them the alternatives.

Reflect: I wonder what John would say to us today. We may not base our lives on the same things as those individuals in the crowd, but on what do we base our lives? How do we decide to spend our time? What is important to us? What takes priority for us? In fact, what do you think Paul would say to us today as he said to the people of Corinth (see yesterday’s reading)? How can we play the role of John the Baptist in our faith lives? How about in our family lives? What priorities should direct our business and social lives?

For the Family: God wants you to repent of the things that you do wrong and then to do something different. It is a little like the Off-On button on your iPad. STOP doing things that you know are not right and START to do things that are pleasing to Him. Think of something for which you need to repent; think of something you can do that is pleasing to God instead. Pray for forgiveness and ask God for His help to do what is right.

Wednesday, June 20
Read: Ephesians 6:1-3
The Epistle to the Ephesians ends with a chapter that talks of the relationship of Christian leaders and others. The duty of children is to obey their parents. The duty of parents is to be patient and deal prudently and wisely with children and bring them up with God’s Word. In the same chapter, the writer speaks of the relationship of slave and master as well. These relationships are defined by God and should be taken very seriously. All of us put our priorities first. We think that our work or success must come first. The success of our children in their vocation, in sports, in academics or in the arts sometimes also comes first.

Reflect: This short reference generates a lot of thought. How do we allow our priorities to move ahead of the priorities given by God? From where do our priorities come? How did you learn what was “important” in life? How do we teach our children or others who are our charges to place God’s Word as a priority in their lives? How can we reflect the leadership to others that God defines within the role He has given us as a parent, a grandparent, an uncle or as a neighbor?

For the Family: When God designed the family, He made your parents the leaders of the home and put them in charge. His commandment is that you should obey and honor your parents. Why do you think God designed families that way? Take time to thank God for your family and especially for your parents. Pray for the families who came to VBS this year, especially the families who heard about Jesus for the first time.

Thursday, June 21
Read: Proverbs 3:1-12
In this set of Proverbs, the author sets forth a list of three directives for Christians. “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart.” “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” “Honor the LORD with your wealth.” These are also major directives to all who find themselves in leadership roles.

Reflect: How do we “lean on our own understanding” at times? How does society teach us to trust in ourselves? How is this a rejection of God’s Word? How did Jesus give us an example of these directives? None of us can keep God’s commands. When we recognize this, what is our reaction or response?

For the Family: These verses contain wise instruction that an earthly father might give to his child. How and why does God discipline? How can you grow in trusting Him?

Friday, June 22
Read: Matthew 20:25-28
Jesus, the perfect leader, is also the perfect servant. In this short passage He is telling His followers how to be leaders. He again contradicts what we tell ourselves and what society tells us.

Reflect: How does Jesus contradict what we are told about leadership? How do we serve yet also lead? What does Jesus mean when He says that to be a leader and be first, we must serve? What is the definition of being a “servant-leader” in your life?

For the Family: What does it mean to be a servant? How was Jesus the perfect servant? How can you be more like Him?

Saturday, June 23
Read: Hebrews 13:15-21
The writer of Hebrews is about to conclude his letter. He exhorts the Hebrews to submit to the leaders of their Christian congregation. God has placed them in their roles to keep them mindful of His Word. He also tells them to support and pray for their leaders.

Reflect: Who are our leaders in our congregation that are placed by God? Can you come up with more than one role? What makes these individuals leaders? Are there times when we do not honor their position as leader? How do you as a member support them that they may “find joy” in their work?

For the Family: Make a list of leaders in the church. Take turns in your family praying for each one of them.