"Come out of her My people" -- Jesus Christ
RELATIONSHIP, DISCIPLESHIP, AND LEADERSHIP
| RELATIONSHIP, DISCIPLESHIP AND LEADERSHIP
By Brother Andy Sanford of Owosso, MI
Relationship is the Heart of Worship
God desires worship from His Creation; He wants us to worship Him, to enter into relationship with Him. When God created the animals on the sixth day of Creation week, He spoke them into existence, but with man He paused. Man was created in the image of God, and was created in intimacy. When God created man, he entered into relationship with man before man was given the breath of life. God stooped down and formed man, sculpted him out of the earth. Then God bent and touching His lips to man, probably the most intimate moment in all human history, God breathed life into man!
We were created in intimacy and God still uses intimacy to create human life. It is for this reason that we are told in Hebrews 13:4 that marriage is honorable, and that the marriage bed is to be kept undefiled. According to Scripture marriage was given for two reasons. First, in Genesis 2:18 we are told that the reason is because “it is not good that the man should be alone”. Secondly in Malachi 2:15 we are told that marriage is so that we can produce godly children. Marriage is an intimate relationship that God gave us so that we can learn intimacy and from that intimacy propagate life.
Intimacy and relationship are at the very heart of God. God desires relationship with us, so much so; that in Genesis 3:8 we read that God entered the Garden of Eden, calling out, “Adam, Eve, Where are you?” Here the Creator of the universe, Who knew that Adam and Eve had sinned, Who knew that the one commandment He had given them had been broken and that they had eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Even though they had sinned God still desired to visit with, to commune with His Creation. God still desired that intimacy.
Because intimacy is what God desires, he has given us relationships with our fellow man to teach us the art of relationship with Him. Certainly the relationships that we have been corrupted by the devil and therefore many people cannot see love in these relationship and have a corrupted concept of God’s love. Scripture uses these human relationships as examples of our relationship to God, to help us to understand our relationship with him. When we strive to understand the way God has planned for marriage and father-son relationships to work, we can gain a fuller understanding of His Love for us.
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Here in Ephesians 3:19 we find that God wants us to know and be filled with the “fulness of God”. This “knowing” is personal and intimate knowledge, not just a thought of, but a feeling for the fullness of God. He wants us to experience His love for us, His creation, to savor the fullness of God, to intimately know Him.
Because God desires this intimate and personal relationship with us, our worship of Him must have relationship as its ultimate goal. Our praise must express our appreciation for His work in our lives, our world and in sustaining His creation. Our prayers and daily Scripture study should be focused on communicating with him, on allowing God to speak to us by illuminating His Word through the power of His Holy Spirit. When we enter His House of Prayer on His Holy Sabbath Day we must make relationship the corporate goal of our worship. When the sermon is preached, which is God speaking through the servants He has chosen to give voice to His Word. We must seek this relationship. When we meet for Sabbath worship services we must be seeking God with all our hearts, when the Word is opened we should be silently praying, “Lord show me thy will, help me to find your love, your grace, your mercy, help me to enter into relationship with you, fulfill in me your promise to be found when I seek you”. If we begin to worship God the way that He desires to be worshipped our lives will dramatically change. Joy will fill our hearts and peace will flood through our lives, even in the midst of the trauma of life our joy will be unspeakable and our peace will pass all understanding.
Building Christian Leaders Through Discipleship
Strong leadership within the church begins and ends at one point – relationship. Leadership within the church is ordained by our Creator to be grounded in relationship. As we study the issue of leadership in the Scriptures we will that leadership and relationship have been God’s intention from the very beginning.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
“And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” -- Genesis 2:7
This began at God’s creation of man, the crown of His creation that He wished to give dominion over His creation; every other creature was created by the spoken word of God. But man; was formed by the hands of God, he stooped down and formed man from the dust of the earth. In Psalms 139:13 we are told that God formed the inward parts of man and I believe that was the care and the relationship that was shown in God’s creation of man. He did not just make a statue of a man and breath life into it; he formed all the inner workings of the body and then proffered the breath of life. His purpose for creating man and taking so much care in doing so that man could have dominion; exercise leadership over creation.
God still uses intimacy and intimate relationships as the foundation upon which life is built today. God’s purpose now and in the age to come is to have us be leaders. “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10.
Discipleship is Relationship
Discipleship is seen throughout the Scriptures as the model by which God creates strong and courageous leaders for his church.
“But Samuel ministered before the LORD, [being] a child, girded with a linen ephod.” -- 1 Samuel 2:18
“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; [there was] no open vision.” -- 1 Samuel 3:1
We can see that it was through discipleship that God trained Samuel to become a leader, priest and prophet for Israel. Eli was the leader who discipled and trained young Samuel.
When we look at this story carefully we find some interesting things about discipleship that we must bear in mind. Samuel and Eli seemed to have a remarkably mature relationship, despite the obvious age difference. After Samuel spoke with God about the evil that Eli’s own sons were involved in, he was troubled by what God had revealed to him. And yet we find in 1 Samuel 3:17, that they were both honest with each other, even when the truth was potentially hurtful. This demonstrates a high level of trust, respect and love that was shared by these two. When we are involved in discipleship we must also practice honesty.
Discipleship Perpetuates Leadership
The story of the life of Moses; is the story of a strong and courageous leader, who was also well loved. In fact Moses was so well respected and well loved that even today, nearly 3500 years after the exodus from Egypt, even many people in the secular world admire him. I believe that the true legacy of Moses’ leadership was the leader he left in his place when he died. Moses spent more than forty years discipling a brilliant young soldier named Joshua. Joshua was placed into Moses’ position at the critical point in Israel’s journey, entering the promised land to take possession of it.
Joshua had been discipled for the purpose of fulfilling God’s purpose for Israel. Israelites were already promised the land, God said it was theirs, however there were still battles to be fought and won. Their victory was promised to Moses at the burning bush, God gave them the victory, but they had to fight the battles. This is why God called a soldier.
It seems that often I here of small fellowships of Sabbath-keepers springing up, largely driven by the personality of the leader. They often experience a good level of success for a while, but when the leader/pastor retires or moves away the fellowship is; left without leadership. This is because no one was discipled to replace the leader. The fellowship then drifts along, like a ship without a rudder, not developing any real direction, no one really in a leadership role, no one taking the responsibility. This happens too often, and this is why leaders need to place an emphasis on discipling a replacement to carry on after they are gone. Leaders should if at all possible follow Moses’ example in Deuteronomy 31:7 and install the new leader as they leave.
Leadership Jesus’ Way
Jesus himself founded his church upon these very principles of relationship, and leadership. Certainly Jesus taught his disciples theology, counseling and ministry, but probably the most important thing that Jesus taught was relationship with the only begotten Son of God. In a very real sense leadership is fostered by discipleship, but even this is fully dependent on the future leader engaging in a personal and intimate relationship with the Son of God, Jesus.
Jesus promised every generation of his disciples that he would be with them Matthew 28:20b “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. A-men.” Therefore each and every one of us who is involved in leadership within the church, should examine our walk with our Creator on a daily and hourly basis. We must, as leaders within the Church of God, have a soul that “followeth hard” after God (Psalms 63:8). We should each remember that our Saviour has promised his presence, and that it is always given to those who seek it.
In this brief article we have examined the concept of building leaders through discipleship. We have seen that both leadership and discipleship are all wrapped up in relationship. We examined the lives of Samuel, Eli, Joshua, Moses, and Jesus, but what we truly need to examine is you. Are you committed to God enough to encourage others to share in your commitment? Are you ready to take the bold step of building tomorrows leaders in the Church of God 7th Day through the relationships you build now?
The Church of God 7th Day holds dear some unique doctrines, doctrines that are different from what is taught in most of mainstream Christianity. It is only by the power of God’s Holy Spirit that these doctrines are accepted. Therefore I believe that it is imperative that we as leaders today use our relationships with those who are new to the church and the young people, our future church leaders, are loving guided into a firm understanding of biblical Christianity. In this way, through our love, encouragement and steadfast commitment to sound doctrine, we will not “quench the spirit” as it works in their lives.
Bro. Andy Sanford-
If you have any questions, comments, or would just like prayer
please contact brother Andy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: # 989-723-8050