Christianity and Society

Christian Leadership is Not for New Converts

A couple of years ago, I was privileged to be part of a Christian group that conducted Bible studies every week and also encouraged one another through God’s word. One summer, the group organized a retreat at the lake and we were joined by two other friends who had just been converted to Christianity.

For some reasons, unknown to me, the leadership of our group entrusted these newly converted brothers with some leadership roles at the retreat. This was a great mistake as we will later realize. During the retreat, various teachings were programmed. But trouble came up when it was a turn for a teaching that had to deal courtship and marriage.

Ten minutes into this teaching, the two brothers felt it was not ‘spiritual enough’ so one of them  stood up while the teacher was speaking and told him in the face: “Sorry sir, but as one of the conveners at this retreat, I see that this is not what God wants. We can’t come all the way here to hear about courtship and marriage. God is telling me that we should spend more time in prayer not unnecessary teaching like this one.”

Boy! I couldn’t believe my ears. The brother was very zealous for the Lord but had little knowledge. The speaker was evidently embarrassed.  But thank God that despite being offended by these remarks, the speaker handled it very well  and we continued with our program.

Later as I reflected on this scenario, 1 Timothy 3 came to my mind. In this chapter, Paul discusses qualifications for Christian leaders and one qualification he lays out is that a Christian leader “must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).

I, strongly, believe that the leadership of our group was wrong in entrusting leadership roles to these newly converted brothers. They were supposed to grow first in the faith as well as learn from other mature Christian leaders before they could provide leadership. I don’t think that someone who’s grown and continues to grow in their faith would regard a Biblical teaching on courtship and marriage as unnecessary and unspiritual.

This is just one of many examples of challenges the church faces as a result of entrusting leadership to new converts. Please get me right, I don’t mean to say that new converts are of no use in God’s Kingdom. This is not what I am saying and meaning. Rather, basing on Scripture I am arguing that new converts should be taught first and enabled to grow in their faith before they can lead.

It saddens my heart to see a person getting converted today and in no time he is pastoring a church. No, this can’t be! What kind of pastorate is this brother going to provide. Also, get me right. I don’t intended to underestimate the gifts and power that God gives out even to new converts. However, these gifts need to be nurtured over a period so that they can be used in a proper way that glorifies God.

In this part of the world, where many Christian leaders hardly make it into seminary, Bible or theological college due to lack of resources and inadequacy of training institutions, I would not argue that every new convert should be trained in such institutions before he leads a church; nevertheless, I would suggest that if one cannot make it into to a training institution, he should learn under a mature and godly Christian leader or leaders for some time before he can venture into leadership of God’s flock.  Timothy never went to seminary but he learnt from his spiritual Father Paul. Even apostle Paul, himself, before he ventured fully into Christian leadership on his own, he partnered with Barnabas and in the process he learnt some lessons of Christian leadership, I believe.

As somebody said, “Every Timothy needs Paul and every Paul needs Timothy” I would like to encourage our mature Christian leaders to identify young people, probably, those who have just been converted to Christianity and train them in Christian leadership. Young people should also be humble enough to sit down under mature and godly men and learn from them how to lead God’s flock in a way that glorifies God.  In this way, the church will never give leadership responsibility to a recent convert who may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Standard
Christianity and Society

When Christians disagree…

Some people find it strange when Christians disagree. However, I tend to differ. Honestly, most of the times, I am not taken aback to see or hear Christians disagreeing except in a few cases when one clearly sees that God has been completely thrown out of the whole issue.

Christian squabbles don’t surprise me much because although Christians are saved and forgiven there are not perfect and there shall never be in this world. This is in no way condoning sin. God hates sin and we ought to hate it too. I strongly believe that Christians should always live a godly life. Nevertheless, it is a fact that sometimes we don’t. Let me not digress too much. The main issue here is about disagreements among or between Christians.

The story of Apostle Paul and Barnabas will help deliver my point home. These two Christians were greatly used by God.  They first met in Jerusalem when Paul had just become a Christian. While some were running away whenever they saw Paul because they could not believe that Paul had really changed, Barnabas accepted him and brought Paul before the Apostles and assured them that Paul was indeed a new creature in Christ.

The bond of friendship between the two grew stronger and even God was happy. No wonder the Holy Spirit chose the two to go and preach the gospel together in various countries outside Jerusalem (Acts 13:2). During their first trip on this mission, Barnabas took his cousin, John Mark along. As they continued to preach Christ in various countries, John Mark decided to return home before the trip had finished. Probably, John Mark could not stand the challenges that were being met in preaching Christ like being stoned or ridiculed or imprisoned. This act of young Mark did not go well with Paul.

Later on, when they decided to go back and revisit the churches they had planted in their first missionary trip, Paul advised Barnabas not to take John Mark with them again. But Barnabas insisted. This created a disagreement between the two. The Bible puts it that the two had “a sharp disagreement” (Acts 15:39) hence they parted ways. Not good for Christians, uh?

I am sure the people who witnessed or heard about this commented like: “How can Christians disagree?” It is indeed sad that the two Christians failed to agree. But wait a minute! This is not the end of the story.

In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes, “Get John Mark and bring him…because he is very helpful to my ministry.”

Can you please come again, Paul. Have I heard you right? I thought you disagreed and parted ways with Barnabas because you didn’t like John Mark. Why this change of heart?

Of course, we don’t have a record of the reconciliation between Paul and Barnabas anywhere in the Bible, but I have no doubts that the two reconciled and buried their differences. I hope you have now got my point. Christians are not perfect but when they disagree, you can be assured that reconciliation is inevitable.  Ask Barnabas Paul, and John Mark.

Standard