I want to take a short break from II Timothy and revisit the theme of leadership back in II Corinthians. I love teachings on mentoring (discipleship) and leadership and the Bible is full of both. I pray that my generation will invest in the future generations by showing them how to be good leaders through our example and teaching them to be good leaders based on the principles of the Word of God. Here is a quick recap of the previous lesson.
- He does not lord his leadership over his followers.
- He confronts and rebukes correctly, not to cause sorrow.
- He communicates with his followers for their own benefits.
Now let’s take a look at what the Word has to teach us in II Corinthians 2.
6 The punishment handed out by the majority is enough for this person. 7 This is why you should try your best to forgive and to comfort this person now instead, so that this person isn’t overwhelmed by too much sorrow. 8 So I encourage you to show your love for this person. 9 This is another reason why I wrote you. I wanted to test you and see if you are obedient in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone for anything, I do too. And whatever I’ve forgiven (if I’ve forgiven anything), I did it for you in the presence of Christ. 11 This is so that we won’t be taken advantage of by Satan, because we are well aware of his schemes. 12 When I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, the Lord gave me an opportunity to preach. 13 But I was worried because I couldn’t find my brother Titus there. So I said good-bye to them and went on to Macedonia. 14 But thank God, who is always leading us around through Christ as if we were in a parade. He releases the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere through us. 15 We smell like the aroma of Christ’s offering to God, both to those who are being saved and to those who are on the road to destruction. 16 We smell like a contagious dead person to those who are dying, but we smell like the fountain of life to those who are being saved. Who is qualified for this kind of ministry? 17 We aren’t like so many people who hustle the word of God to make a profit. We are speaking through Christ in the presence of God, as those who are sincere and as those who are sent from God. (Common English Bible Translation)
I. A good leader is able to forgive and he teaches his followers to do the same (6-11)
When a person leads other people, misunderstandings are inevitable. The arguments that follow are not the problem, the problem is how those misunderstandings and arguments are handled. If they are not handled correctly then major misunderstandings and problems can develop. A good leader will confront the problem in love with the good of his followers in mind. If the leader is wronged and the person who wronged him asks for forgiveness then the leader will forgive, as the Bible teaches. If confrontation does not take place and the misunderstandings are allowed to fester, then things inevitably get worse. A good leader will teach his followers how to confront problems and problematic people by using the wisdom and methods outlined in the Bible. He will demonstrate forgiveness to them and teach them how to forgive one another. This is very important because if problems are not dealt with and confrontation does not take place, leading to repentance and forgiveness then Satan steps in and uses the situation to his advantage. He sets traps for the believers and for those outside of the faith. Many people will not set foot in a church because they have seen believers who did not confront and forgive as they should and because of these actions, they claim not to need God or the church. As a leader, are you avoiding confronting some problems among your followers? Why? Do you have a good excuse? Paul had a really good one yet he chose to set aside his feelings for the sake of his followers. Because of his actions, the Corinthians learned how to confront problems and resolve them according to God’s Word. This led to true repentance and forgiveness. What are things like in your church? Are there situations that need to be confronted? Are you ready to trust God and confront them His way for the good of the people, both inside and outside the church?
II. A good leader cares for the well being of his followers (12-13)
Paul had an opportunity to preach and teach in Troas but he was upset because he could not find his friend and fellow servant in the Gospel, Titus. As a result, he left Troas, even though he had much ministry to accomplish, and went to find his friend Titus. While in Macedonia, Paul was able to minister there as in Troas but also meet up with Titus. As leaders, we learn an important truth here. People, specifically personal relationships, are more valuable than “numbers” when it comes to ministry. Many times, leaders get caught up in the numbers game so much that we forget about the reason for the ministry, the people. Paul had a personal relationship with Titus. Paul had invested much in Titus and his relationship was valuable to him. He wanted to know how Titus was doing and help him if he could. This is a principle that Jesus taught via His ministry. He was more interested in investing in 12 men, who in turn would invest in others to the point where they would transform the known world, than just having thousands of followers who were more spectators than disciples. Paul was taught directly by Jesus Christ and incorporated His teachings by the way that he did ministry. As a leader, are you more interested in numbers or investing in trustworthy people? Are you more interested in numbers or personal relationships? The way that you handle certain situations will prove which is more important, a personal relationship or the “numbers”.
III. A good leader is an aroma of the knowledge of Christ everywhere he goes (14-16)
There are a few awesome word pictures expressed in these few verses. As leaders we are guaranteed victory as we serve the Lord by investing in the people around us. The word that is translated “parade” in English is the Greek word “Thriambeuo” and it means a victory procession. When a general would enter Rome after great victories, he would lead a parade of the spoils of war. He would be carried in his own personal chariot. The beauty of this word picture is that when we are in Jesus Christ, we are leading the parade from the general’s chariot. God is the One who puts us there and leads the way. We benefit. We are guaranteed victory no matter what happens around us. Paul understood this and that is why he was such a powerful minister for the Lord, that is why he was able to impact so many people for the Gospel. When a leader lives this way, he becomes a fragrant aroma of the knowledge of Jesus Christ everywhere that he goes. All the people around him know that Jesus Christ is in Him and that he is a servant of Christ. It seeps out of his pores. I am reminded of a situation in where my mentor demonstrated these verse to me, even though he was not intentionally trying to teach me. He was being a witness for Christ. We were at a restaurant in the States and as we ordered and were talking, he began to discuss with the waiter. There was a huge portrait on the wall and Vasile asked who the man was in the picture. He was a famous king from the Orient who set some slaves free. Vasile went on to explain to the man about another King who frees man from his slavery to sin, Jesus Christ. That waiter left and another came so Vasile immediately began to explain that he knew who that famous king in the picture was and wanted to share with him about another King who frees man from slavery. This was the second waiter to hear the Gospel during the night. The other patrons also listened carefully to the conversation. After that, another waiter came so Vaile asked the man what his name was and what it meant. The man did not know. Vasile went on to explain the meaning of his name and his wife’s name. Vasile’s wife’s name is Anastasia which means “resurrection”. He went on to explain that because of Christ we know that we will experience a resurrection. At the end of the night, pretty much the entire staff had heard the Gospel. It was amazing. I understood verses 15 and 16 clearly after that teaching session. I went home that night to research the meaning of my name (as did everyone in our group other than Vasile and Anastasia). What about you, are you a fragrant aroma of Christ everywhere that you go?
IV. A good leader does not manipulate people with the Word of God (17)
This is a tough one in our world today because there are many who twist the Word of God in order to manipulate people. A few groups come to mind when I think of this process. One group would be Jehovah’s Witnesses. Another group would be the Mormons. A third would be Christian Scientists. Yet another would be teachers in Word of Faith movement (Kenneth Hagin, Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers, and many others). They peddle the Word of God for a profit. They distort the clear teachings of the Bible in order to manipulate the public. The end goal is not making disciples, it is making money. During Paul’s time there were people just like this, professional orators who tried to talk people out of their money. They tried to incorporate the Word of God into their methods. They obviously had a pretty good following (like today). Paul has to remind the people that we do not distort the Bible to manipulate others. We explain the Scriptures as they are so that people can understand them, accept them, and begin to live by them. This would allow them to step in to the process of discipleship. As a leader, do you constantly study the Scriptures so that you can interpret them correctly and apply them to your life and ministry? When you speak to people, do you try to teach them the Scriptures or something else? Do want to equip them to feed themselves from the Word or keep them dependent on you?
How are you measuring up as a leader based on what the Bible teaches? If you want to do it God’s way, He will let you. He will help you be victorious.