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Step In!, Part 2

From the series The Book of 1 Timothy

What does it take to be a godly leader? I mean, how would you define it? In this program, Chip continues his series called “The Book of 1st Timothy: Life Coaching from the Apostle Paul.” Hear how you can be a God-honoring influence at church, in your workplace, and inside the walls of your home.

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Message Transcript

Everyone on this planet has this, maybe it’s not real clear in your mind, but you have this invisible picture of what success looks like. And if you could ever hit it, then you’d be a somebody. Be careful what you set your heart to be. And what is great is if you set your heart to be a godly man, it’s a fine work you desire to do.

There’s this mantra, this code that they wanted to summarize the work of Jesus in the Church and so, it went like this. “He who was revealed in the flesh,” incarnation, “was vindicated by the Spirit at His baptism, seen by angels in temptation.” Remember after He defeated Satan? The text says, “And He was ministered to by angels.” “Proclaimed among the nations,” the discipleship process went forward, “believed on [in] the world, taken up into glory,” ascension.

The coaching nuggets that I have for you is that, “I write to you so that you’ll know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God.” And what I would ask you is: How are you conducting yourself in the household of God?

And, by the way, that’s, again, don’t just picture the building. I’m talking about the living stones, the relationship, the reality of the Church of God, the pillar and support of the truth.

And then our response, “If any man aspires,” and let me encourage you to underline, “sets his heart on the office of overseer,” or I think just being a godly man, “it’s a fine work he desires to do,” and here’s, I think, the ultimate criteria. Honestly, his first line, “Must be above reproach.” The way you’re above reproach is you take all the other things and you go on a journey to become like that. And then you end up above reproach.

So, okay, thank you, Paul. If I was in Ephesus and my name was Timothy, I would kind of know what I was supposed to do, right? Who I’m supposed to look for, here’s the profile, I need to develop these kind of leaders.

Here’s my question: What’s this got to do with us? What’s the application in the twenty-first century?

And I’m going to suggest that the subject here is leadership in the Church, because all Scripture – right? Is profitable, it’s inspired by God. So, this passage, like the last chapter in every other passage is here to equip us and encourage us and help us to be men of God who will be equipped and adequate for the good work God has for us.

The underlying issue here, I think, is integrity. And when I say the word “integrity”, I mean beyond honesty. We tend to think of integrity as, “Well, I’m honest.” Integrity, it’s actually a numerical word. Integration. It’s the integration of your faith in every area of life and relationships.

The way I think about it is you live the same way Monday afternoon at four as Sunday morning at eleven a.m. The same way at 2 a.m. watching TV with no one around, the same way in front of your computer, the same way when someone comes on to you at work, the same way when you have had a couple beers with the guys. It’s just that your faith is integrated in every relationship with everyone. That’s basically what it means to be a godly man, isn’t it? It sounds like just someone who has taken the instruction of the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and is loving others with a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

And so, I think the underlying question is, “Am I willing to set my heart to become a godly man and fulfill God’s purpose for my life?”

Could I pause just a minute? Men, that is a huge question. Here’s what I’ll tell you for sure. Everyone is pursuing becoming someone. In fact, if we could do an inventory, I mean, you show me where your time goes, where your finances go, and where your mind goes and your energy goes, I’m telling you, that’s where you’re headed. But what we have this amazing ability and I think the enemy works much is we live in this denial like, “I really, I verbalize, so I believe my own lies. I want to be this kind of man. I want to be this kind of husband. I want to be this kind of Christian.” And my behavior says I’m becoming this kind of man, this kind of husband, this kind of Christian. And there’s conflict.

See, a good conscience is they are integrated. Perfect? Absolutely not. In fact, one of the marks I think of a godly man is you hear them repent a lot. I find in my deep relationships with them, we are telling one another, “Man, I messed up last night.” “I was critical of my wife,” or, “I was way too hard on one of my kids.” Or, right? Or for some of you, “Man, I” I’m not a big drinker personally but, “Man, I had a few too many beers,” or, “That third glass of wine kind of, I said some things that I shouldn’t.” That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It means you’re probably pretty authentic.

But instead, we’ve got this culture where people… I think most Christians spend more energy trying to project and pretend that we are better than we are than actually working at becoming who God wants us to be!

So, here’s - the action is: Step In. I want to encourage you to revisit your life goals. And if you don’t have any, it’s a great time, you can revisit them. And then I would, I’d think, how does God measure success?

Would you think like the God of heaven – the living God, the hope of the Church that is the pillar and the support of truth, that would look and say, “Oh, Gabriel, come here. See that guy? Man, oh, yeah, he’s got his issues, they all do, they are fallen creatures. But, man, boy, I love his heart. He has set his heart to become like My Son. He brings me such…”

Do you realize the Bible says, Proverbs talks about, “God finds great delight in the prayers of His godly ones”? That He sings over you? That because of what Jesus has done, His arms are not crossed, His toe is not tapping, and the God that you serve doesn’t have a boney finger going, “Step up, step up, step up!”

But He’s really saying, “Come on up! Come on up! Come on up! I love you. We can do this together. Surrender unto Me. Let My power flow through you. Realign your life and your goals and let Me make you like My Son.”

The unspoken need is to develop character. And I, over the years, I call it the pathway to spiritual maturity. And Jesus came, remember John 10:10? “I came that they might have [audience] “life,” and life abundantly.”

BIO is life, right? Biometrics, biochemistry, biotech – there’s all kind. And so, I took that little acronym, bio. That means: Come before God daily. Come before God daily. Offer
your body as a living sacrifice every day. Seek first the kingdom of God daily. Get into the Scriptures daily. Talk to God daily. Listen to good podcasts daily. Memorize a verse and set your heart daily. Come – the “B” was – before God.

Then when you come before God daily, what you’ll find is there’s lots of commands that you can’t keep! In fact, they’re impossible. They’re in the second person plural in English. In other words, it’s “You all love one another. You all honor one another.” You all. And so the “I” was for “in community.” In community weekly.” And in community I – and not just a small group.

I mean from the heart. Go deep. Be honest. Be real. Get authentic. Let the real you meet real needs for the right reason in the right way. “Let your love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good, be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” That’s Romans 12:9 and 10 or so.

And then finally is would you be willing to be on mission 24/7? I mean, from the moment that you get up, before you walk out the door? If you’re married, “These are my kids, here’s my wife, I’m on mission. I’m going to serve. I’m on mission, I’m going to drive like I’m on mission.”

But you’re on mission because you’re a servant. And then when you show up, you’re a servant leader. And when you, you know, when you repair the plumbing and the electrical here, when you build the house over there, you’re a servant. And then you’re a servant in the church. You discover what your spiritual gifts are. And you’re not just like, “Hey, I sat, I listened, we ate lunch, I thought it was pretty good, what do you think? There’s a ballgame.” That Christianity got us nowhere. It’s - you’re active, you participate.

Will you own your own spiritual growth?” If Jesus said He came to give you life and life abundantly, would you own the discipline and the pattern of coming before God daily, doing life in community weekly, and being on mission 24/7? And what I’m telling you is that will change the course of your life. Everybody is on a path.

And I used to do this all the time, but I’m going through Proverbs, through Proverbs, through Proverbs, then I go through Proverbs, then after that I got through Proverbs.
And I’m just seeing the path, the path, the way, the path, the path, the highway, the path. There’s a path that goes this way, a path that goes this way. Path of the righteous; path of the evil. BIO is a pathway to godliness.

I was twenty-eight years old, I’ve got three kids, I’m going to school full-time, I’m working full-time now in a little church. And I’m stretched from end to end. There’s not enough time. I barely can pay my bills and sometimes I can’t pay my bills. And I had the privilege of being in a brown bag lunch with one of my mentors, a guy named Howard Hendricks who was a professor.

And he got up on the board and he wrote four words and the first one was “priority”. And he said, “Who do you really want to be?” And then he wrote another word a little bit later that said “schedule”. If that’s really important, where is it in your schedule?

And then he wrote another word: “Discipline”. He said, “Are you willing to pay the price to become that kind of person? And then he said, “Guys, you know, you’re all a bunch of workaholics, overachievers,” you know, that’s who this seminary tends to attract. He said, “I want you to write something down, ‘God will never love you any more or any less than He loves you right now.’ Period.”

When you pray, He loves you. If you forget to pray, He loves you. You read your Bible this morning, He loves you. You don’t read your Bible, He loves you. His love isn’t earned. It’s not a performance.

Christ died for all your sins before you were even born and committed any of them. Now, it doesn’t mean that there’s lax. But you can’t earn His love. He said, “So then, life really is rather than trying to prove something to others,” in my case, to my dad, “if you really would believe you’re really loved, then the way you say thanks to God is by who you want to become.”

Dallas Willard had a great line. He said, “The greatest gift you’ll give to anyone and especially to the world is nothing that you accomplish but who you become.” And I was tired, I was just applying all my workaholic tendencies to my faith.

And it was thirty-two miles from downtown where the seminary was out to where this little community where I was pastoring this little church. And I’ll never forget, I pulled off at the grand old Dairy Queen. And I just couldn’t shake, “If I really believe God loves me, who do I want to become?”

And I’m famous for not having a lot of paper with me, so I started taking DQ napkins and I wrote down, “I want to become a man of God. I want to become a great husband. I want to become a great father. I want to become a great friend. I want to become a great pastor one day.” And I don’t know why I said this, but maybe it was because where I was and I was struggling, “And I want to stay in shape until the day I die.” And then I remember what Prof said about my schedule and I got out a sheet of paper and I, in that Dairy Queen, I said, “Okay, I’m going to spend this block of hours every morning, a minimum an hour with God every day.”

And then I put a block where, every Friday morning for four hours, I’m going to have a date with my wife. And then I put in, “These five out of seven nights we are going to eat dinner as a family.” And then I had a couple buddies and they liked to play hoop like I did. And I thought, Okay, I’m going to plug into my schedule, I’m going to work out with these guys and share my heart about where I’m really at instead of who I wish I was.

And then I put my kids, I put all my kids on my calendar so I’d meet with them individually, at least every other week, along with what we did. And every Friday night, “This is what we are going to do as a family.” And did I do it perfectly? No. But I will tell you what, from age twenty-eight until all my kids were grown and some of those things I’m still just pressing ahead, I set my heart to be a man after God’s own heart. I set my heart. And we’ve had lots of struggle because of our alcoholic family past, both hers and mine. Lots of struggles in our marriage. But we’ve got forty-two years under our belt. I’ve got four grown kids that have had their ups and downs, but they walk with God.

Okay? I’m not promising that everything comes out your way, and it has been extraordinarily hard. Set your heart to be a godly man and get it from some general idealized something, someday, someway into a schedule where you come before God, do life in community, and get on mission 24/7.

And early on, oh, building the new habits, deciding to not watch TV at night, a weird thing happened. I went to bed an hour earlier, ended up, didn’t need an alarm. God woke me up usually by five or a little before. I added two hours to my day. Life changed. You have certain things that you unconsciously do that are a sheer waste of time and distraction, taking you to places to become the man you don’t want to be.

Substitute them and then be very gracious with yourself, because you’re going to mess up a lot, because God is very gracious with you. And then find a band of brothers. Find a couple, three guys that say, “Come hell or high water, we’re going to be this kind of man. We’re going to be this kind of man.” And when you blow it, and you will, with tears streaming down your face, you shoot straight. And I went to a place that I haven’t been in a long time, and it wasn’t good. And you repent. And you’re accepted and you get loved and you get back up. It’s the Christian life.