THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
SERVING A REBELLIOUS PEOPLE - 2
1 Timothy 1:12-17
God’s people today, just as they were during Moses time,
are often rebellious. They are unfaithful to their covenant,
they malign their own brethren, they cause dissensions in
community, they reject the wisdom of their elders. As God
said of the Israelites, “I have seen this people, how
stiff-necked they are” (Ex 32:9a).
God has appointed you as servant leaders. So when those under
your care rebel, God calls for you and sends you. “Go
down at once because of your people, whom you brought out
of the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly.” (Ex 32:7).
Notice something. They are your people. You take
care of the problem.
is actually giving you and them a chance. If it was just God,
He needs to get His work done, to move on. “Let me alone,
then, that my anger may burn against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.” (Ex 32:10).
The God of justice punishes a rebellious people, because they
stand in the way of His work and plan. But His plan continues,
and so He would need to raise a new people. And if they do
God’s plan, then they will work wonders. Get rid of
the old and have the new. Very tempting, isn’t it? But
no, you are supposed to stand up for those under your care,
to even endure their rebellion, to strive to bring them back
to fidelity. So “Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying,
‘Why, O Lord, should your anger burn against your people”
(Ex 32:11a). You are to make your case on their behalf before
God (Ex 32:12-13). That is part of your job description.
One impetus for us servant leaders to do the above is when
we realize and remember how we too were once rebellious (I
don’t know about you, but I was). As Paul himself testified,
“I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant
man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out
of ignorance in my unbelief.” (1 Tm 1:13). So what were
you before? God was patient with you, perhaps your spouse
or best friend bore you in his/her heart, so now here you
are. You are even a leader!
we must never forget what Jesus came into the world for. “Christ
Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Tm 1:15b).
That is what we all are. Perhaps you are less so now, and
those you are caring for, in their ignorance, are more so.
But that is precisely why you are their servant leader. It
is to serve them, to bring them to holiness, to help bring
them to heaven. Paul’s task is your task. “But
for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as
the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience
as an example for those who would come to believe in him for
everlasting life.” (1 Tm 1:16).
are a lot of sinners in the world, many of them even in the
Church and in Christian community. Sin is rebellion against
and rejection of the Father, just as what was done by the
prodigal son. But when the son returned (he did not even repent;
he was just hungry), the father was ecstatic. He said “this
son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost,
and has been found.” (Lk 15:24a). In the parable of
the lost coin, Jesus says, “there will be rejoicing
among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Lk 15:10). God says, “let us celebrate with a feast”
(Lk 15:23b). “Then the celebration began.” (Lk
here is the sad reality. In the parable of the lost sheep,
Jesus said, “I tell you, in just the same way there
will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than
over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
(Lk 15:7). Now let me tell you, if only there were 99 righteous
people and only 1 sinner out of 100 in the Church, then that
would be cause for rejoicing in heaven and on earth. But the
reality is the reverse! Only 1% of Christians are holy enough
to no longer be in need of repentance (though we all need
to still repent), while 99% are in serious sin, or inactive
in their faith, or nominal, or Sunday Christians, or not living
out the two great commandments, or not striving for holiness,
or not evangelizing. These are all displeasing to the Lord,
some of them so displeasing that His anger would burn against
leaders, this is your task, to help bring people to live Christ.
Your flock will include lost sheep, lost coins, prodigal sons,
or even self-righteous older sons. You will need to try to
bring them back, often at great personal cost to yourself
(ingratitude, dissent, maligning, rebellion). But look to
the joy of being able to bring a lost soul back. “And
when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great
joy” (Lk 15:5). The burden has been foisted on your
shoulders. But when you succeed, know that God and His angels
rejoice with you.
You have quite a task, don’t you? Look not just on the
burden, but on the great privilege. Don’t give up when
things are not going well, but endure and persevere. Let go
of the long face, and let me see that wide grin.
always grateful. “I am grateful to him who has strengthened
me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.” (1 Tm 1:12). Again,
you have been given a great privilege, and given a great task.
Be grateful. Be worthy of God’s trust.
else can we all say? “To the king of ages, incorruptible,
invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever.
Amen.” (1 Tm 1:17).