On My Shelf: January 11, 2018

Well, I didn’t get as much reading done in the last couple weeks as I would have liked. That being said, the two books I did read were solid.

Perfect Sinners by Matt Fuller (7/10)

The tagline of this book is “See yourself as God sees you”. This one was personally beneficial to me. I honestly expected more from it, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations or where I thought Fuller was going to take it, but it was encouraging and good.

Many of us allow our walk with God to determine how we ‘feel’ that our status with God is. So, when sin comes and rears its ugly head in our lives, we begin to feel as if our status with God has changed and that He no longer looks upon us with love and affection. This book will make the argument time and again that our status with God should determine our walk with God. So if we understand what Scripture says about how God views us, our lives should be different as a result.

My two favorite chapters were:

How strong does my faith need to be?  – As I’ve written about in length in a previous blog, some of my alone time in high school and early college was spent wondering if my faith was strong enough for salvation or strong enough for being in spiritual leadership. This chapter will strongly encourage the reader to stop worrying about the level of their faith and instead focus on the object of their faith. So if you tend to worry about how good of a Christian you feel like you need to be to obtain God’s love, read this chapter and remember that God loves you so much that He sent His son to die for you.

Why is change so slow? – This was easily my favorite. There are sins that seem to take years and years to remove from my life. There are seasons of success and failure, but it seems to take forever to stir my heart for Jesus in such a way that my behavior changes. This chapter reminds the reader that our culture is all about instantaneous results, but sanctification takes decades in some areas. This chapter will also encourage you to simultaneously look at the cross and take sin seriously, for this is the way to grow spiritually by reminding ourselves of grace and putting sin to death.

The reason it only got a seven is because it seemed a little disconnected at times and there was a chapter on heavenly rewards that was solid but seemed to take a little bit away from the freedom to live that the book set out to establish in the Christian’s life.

So if you wrestle with God’s love for you despite your consistent sin, read this one. It will set you free to live out what is already your status before God because of Christ. Give it a read, you won’t be disappointed.

Word-Centered Church by Jonathan Leeman (9/10)

This one had me writing and journaling like a madman. This one intimidated me at first, as it is a 9 Marks book and at least to me those can be a little heady, despite being sound and solid.

Once I actually pushed past the first chapter, I was drawn into thinking deeper and deeper about what it would look like for our churches to be Word-Centered. This book, (much like Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry) looks at many aspects of the local church and how to build them upon the Word of God. This means more than just saying a slogan about the Bible or having the inerrancy of the Bible as one of your ‘What We Believe’ statements. Rather, building your church around the Word means singing Scripture, preaching Scripture (not just self-help or motivational messages with Scripture sprinkled in to affirm your points), designing small-groups around Scripture, etc.

Much like Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry, reading this book was like reading my passions and desires being articulated wisely by someone who is much more seasoned in ministry than me. From a young age I loved Scripture, and as I’ve grown I’ve desired to see it taught well and rightly.

My two favorite chapters were:

The Sermon Announces – This one was like reading my statement of belief regarding preaching. This chapter reminded me that the job of the pastor is to announce what God has already said through a Biblical passage, not use the passage to announce what you think. Man this one is convicting to me, challenging to me, and it lights a fire in me to see pastors around the globe stop using their Bibles to prove their points and beliefs, but rather announcing afresh what God has already said to be true via Scripture. That’s a humongous difference, and one that hugely impacts the health of the church long-term. Are you using Scripture or announcing Scripture?

The Church Prays – This chapter prompted a previous blog of mine about how our churches pray prayers that non-Christians would not be confused by. This chapter calls our churches into deeper prayers, Scriptural prayers for one another that go deeper than good health and financial needs. This one convicted me big time as I pray for family and friends. I tend to pray for surface-level stuff, or needs that have been brought to my attention. But I rarely if ever have prayed deep Scriptural prayers with eternal implications.

The reason this one didn’t get a perfect score for me is because it was still a little heady.

I enjoyed reading these two books during my New Year’s Day time off, so pick them up and give them a read!

In His Name,

Nathan Roach


Leading Like Jesus

Leadership is a popular topic. There are tons of books, conferences, seminars, podcasts, and blogs on the topic (This is ironic since I’m about to add to all the noise). We hear of methods, practices, models, examples, and game-plans worth modeling. I know, I have several such books on my shelves at home. This subject has been on my mind lately in a big way, due to me taking on my first leadership position in ministry. I was still striving to figure out my views on the idea of leading in a Christian vocation when I came across 1 Thessalonians 2:3-12. chess

Now I preface the following blog post with two things:

  1. I am young and not that experienced, with lots of room for growth
  2. There is way more to this passage than it being a treatise on pastoral leadership, that’s just my topic for this blog. Read it not as a sermon but as a topical summary.

Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica, a church that he helped birth. They were a church of incredible faith, ever-present hope, and brotherly love. In the middle of his letter to them, Paul gives a summary of how he led them in the birth of the church, and why he led them that way.

First we see in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 some qualities that we shouldn’t have as a leader.

For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you known, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6

Paul speaks as to how he didn’t lead or act when they came to Thessalonica to present the gospel. But in his speech we see a condemnation on the type of behavior he’s adamantly asserting he didn’t walk in.

  1. A leader is not to be deceptive (v. 3). Paul didn’t manipulate or have a hidden agenda. He presented the gospel in purity and simplicity. We will see later in this passage why he was so straight-forward.
  2. A leader is not to be a people-pleaser (v. 4). It’s easy to sit on the fence when it comes to big decisions, schmoozing both sides, making sure that you’re well-liked by all who are under your leadership. But a leader is not to behave in such a way, flattering for the sake of approval.
  3. A leader is not to be greedy (v. 5). There’s a lot more to greed than just financial gain. A leader should not be in the business of striving for more power, prestige, control, or praise.
  4. A leader is not to be authoritarian (v. 6). Paul and Timothy could have made elaborate demands as apostles, but they didn’t for they were not in the business of seeking personal glory. It’s easy to become dictatorship and accountability-less in leadership, especially when you’re put on a pedestal. But a leader is not to be authoritarian.

In all of this, I want us to see Jesus Christ as the better leader. He is ultimately the example, and Paul strove to emulate Christ in everything he did. So when we talk about what makes a good leader, may we look to Jesus.

Jesus was not deceptive, He had no ulterior motives in the things He did. He came boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God, the good news. Jesus was not a people-pleaser. It seems to me that any time the masses were comfortable with Him, He re-defined what it meant to follow God to the point where people were not pleased. Jesus was not greedy, He was not a glory-hog. He was constantly giving the glory to God the Father. Jesus stepped off the throne of glory, and humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross.

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. – 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12

The unfortunate truth is that far too often knowledge and experience begin to cloud our compassion and love. This is too often the case in the church. Pastors lose their shepherding nature in exchange for a mind saturated with doctrine and theology. Paul shows us in this passage that we don’t need to separate the two. You can have love and compassion while also adamantly teaching right doctrine.

This list of exemplary leadership qualities that follows may make you feel like I’m writing to just pastors. While pastors and those in church leadership should definitely seek to grow these qualities, all Christians are called to emulate Christ in all we do. So regardless of what your vocation is, strive to lead like Christ.

  1. A leader should be sensitive to the needs of his followers (v. 7). Paul had a mother-like deep care for those whom he led. We too should strive to be sensitive to the needs of those we lead.
  2. A leader should value those under his care (v. 8). Paul had great brotherly affection for those who led in the church at Thessalonica. Far from treating his subordinates as just that, Paul came to love and have affection for all whom he led.
  3. A leader should be transparent and real (v. 8-10). Because of the pedestal of leadership, we can hold people at arm’s length. However, a good leader is a transparent one. We should be pointing others to Jesus, not ourselves.
  4. A leader should be encouraging (v. 11-12). Paul exhorted, encouraged, and supported those he led. Sometimes this came through hard words of hard truth, but it was always in the hopes of drawing people closer to God.

We see this in Jesus. Jesus was sensitive to the needs of His followers. He valued and treasured those who chose to follow Him. Jesus was transparent and real, allowing the disciples into his life in more than just once a week Bible meetings. They lived, ate, and had fun with Jesus. Jesus was encouraging. This came through some extremely hard teachings and harsh words. Yet all that Jesus did was to bring His followers closer to God and God’s glory.

Jesus was the better leader.

He’s worthy of following and emulating.

Lead like Jesus.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

  • I appreciate any and all feedback, and you can follow my blog via the menu. Also, special thanks to Charles Swindoll’s work on this passage.