Bro. Joey Newell, SGBC Silsbee, TX
II Timothy 2:1-2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
These verses are quite easy to read, but they are altogether more difficult to put into practice. I would imagine that every pastor should have a desire that the people they care for, particularly the youth, would be well grounded in the truth and bold in the faith of the LORD Jesus Christ. I would also expect that many church members out there would like a clear path to increase in personal knowledge and skill pertaining to biblical understanding and growth in spiritual living and discernment.
In writing this, I ask myself, “why in the world would anyone care what you think on this issue?” In fairness, that’s a fairly reasonable question. Please allow me to give you some information, so the reader can determine if this is a worthwhile article. Since becoming the pastor of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Silsbee, TX, the young men, ranging in age at that time from 10-38 (6 men total), have EACH taught a lesson almost every Sunday (EIGHTY-SIX TOTAL as of this writing), have spoken at our last 2 conferences, have written in the local paper, and are each active in their local mission fields. In, addition, the young women, ranging from 10-36 at the start, have likewise engaged in their local mission fields, and have joined the men in lesson preparation; every time the men have spoken, the ladies have also written essays on the same subjects for that week. When I am gone to speak at other places, I have great confidence that these young men with faithfully examine and divide the word of God, fearing God, and loving one-another. That they will be bold and sound in doctrine, and will not excuse themselves from the counsel of Spirit of God in the word of God.
Please know that I do not consider myself the authority or an expert in any of these writings. I intend only to share some of our focus needs and to be, in some way, an encouragement for development and growth to the people of God. I have not arrived, but the LORD continues to work on me.
Pastors, we are responsible. There are at least 4 problems that may be found in our current state that would address why many pastors may think, “why doesn’t anyone want to do anything?” and why many members may question, “what does being a church member mean, other than hearing preaching a few hours a week?”
The Report. Men, we have to get the beam out of our eyes. Perhaps the reason many church members are lazy in their work as members is that we are, or at least perceived to be, lazy in our work in pastoring. If there is randomness in our study and preaching, and our delivery is passionless and without zeal, why would those we pastor desire to be like us? If what we have is not worthy of sharing with others, doing the work of the evangelist, then why would they engage and strive in it? if we do not commit ourselves to godly living, why would those we pastor find that need?
Maxwell (1998), describing leadership, wrote of the Law of the Lid. He uses the lid to paint the illustration that effectiveness will not surpass, overcome, or rise above the lid that is upon it. Pastors, we know this is true in our own lives, but why do we not take responsibility for this in the churches? Is it because it is easier to say that someone is “spiritually weak” or even “unsaved” than to admit that we have not properly discipled them? Let’s be faithful in examining ourselves, brethren. No doubt, many of us have had jobs where the workers were ok, but were not sufficient for a task, not because they were not capable, but because the leadership was not willing to invest in their development and take personal interest in the growth of the business at hand. Examples in sports are easy to make; I have been a Cincinnati Bengals fan for years (I quit watching sports several years ago for obvious reasons), and I know that they would get higher draft picks every year than most teams. We must ask, why are they always losers? It’s not that the players are dumber, weaker, slower, or less capable of playing football. It is because of Law of the Lid.
Again, before we get frustrated with the people of God for not following, we should examine ourselves, and truly press the question, are we leading?
Faithful men. Perhaps it is easier for some more than others to identify faithful men. Before we start puffing ourselves up, consider how that Jesus practiced this. We know that He is God, and nothing was hidden from Him, but didn’t He, from the time He called the twelve, persistently question them, prove them, encourage them, and cause them to often ponder the things of God? When the LORD Jesus Christ asked Peter, “But whom say ye that I am,” it was not asked because He lacked knowledge, but to bring out truth concerning Himself, the gift of grace from the Father, and the LORD’s church.
Pastors, we have got to do a better job probing and pressing the people of God in sound doctrine and teaching, and not just from the pulpit. Our conversation should be preparing the next generation of the people of God. Commit time to identify and encourage faithful men.
Commit. We can suppose that it is a human failing that we want power and want to keep it. Pastors, we can easily forget that the post that we have as preachers was a calling given to us by God. We can also soon easily forget that the pastorship we have been called to was extended from the church we pastor. So, what do we really have that is ours? If all has been given and extended, how dare we pretend that it is ours to hold onto, and not share freely.
Sharing and committing (Strong’s #G3908; present, deposit, or trust) the things of God to God’s people for God’s glory ought to be joyful and exciting to a pastor as well as to the people of God! Jesus said, “these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me (Luke 24:44).” In the very next verse (vs. 45) it says, “then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” I understand that I am not the LORD Jesus Christ; there’s no doubt. At the same time, pastors, we have a model to follow; how that Christ opened to the understanding of scripture to the people of God, and further committed these things to them to go into all the world (Matthew 28:18-20). We should have a passionate desire to commit the things of God to the next generation of believers for the glory of God and for the love of God in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Low expectations. I have heard (many, many, many times) over the years sayings like, “so-and-so won’t even come to church.” Over time, I honestly believe the low lid level has produced a Laodicean complacency within the LORD’s assemblies. Fearing someone to be soon offended, perhaps addressing slothfulness of the people of God is something many pastors stay away from. Modern theology is pleasing and easy to the flesh; we certainly don’t want to ask anyone to do anything. Besides that, many believers are trained by observation and teaching that they should expect the same things from God that they do their pastor; “I want to hear good news about grace and how the LORD blesses me, but stay out of my life and don’t tell me what to do.” For this, pastors and church members should repent.
From the text, Paul told Timothy to reasonably expect that the men he would teach, by the power and influence of God AND the diligence of the faithful man, the teachings of Christ would be committed generationally by faithful men. There are four generations in the text: Paul, Timothy, the faithful men, and the others that the faithful men would teach. This obviously needed to be said. We should hear the saying as well. Pastors, I encourage you from the word of God to take a personal interest in teaching and grooming the next generation, with generations of the people of God in mind. Being a Landmarker, I believe what Paul told Timothy is necessary in that belief. Through succession, we must commit sound teaching, doctrine, by good report, to men identified as faithful to God, and that with high expectations upon the promises of God the Son, “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The Rubber and the Road. This is how it all worked out. First, I simply asked the membership, “who wants to learn how to study the bible?” Every hand went up. Second, I gave them an assignment, a 500-word essay, on a particular subject. Next, I asked the young men to present their study. At the conclusion of their presentation, I gave them their next assignment. Boy, did their little faces look sad. Well, guess what? They did their next assignment. Over time, the length increased to 1,000-word essays, and they have been doing them ever since. Along the way there have been obstacles; parents and grandparents thought there was too much pressure on the kids, members didn’t care for spending the time listening to these people grow and struggle at times, and some times life just got busy. But now, EIGHTY-SIX studies in, the membership has grown spiritually as individuals and in love toward one another. These young men (and women) are prepared for further teaching and will be able, even if not one of them are called to preach, to commit faithful teaching and behavior to others also.
This has, selfishly, also helped me as their pastor. I know that these people are trained and care about the things of God. If I teach something confusing, they ask their questions. If I teach something strange or new to them, they clarify the teaching. If and when I say something that is worded incorrectly or simply flat wrong, they have the discernment to call me out on it, and the confidence in the word of God to do so.
Pastor, do you want help? How is your witness in the labor of the LORD? Do you examine men, looking for faithful co-laborers? Once identified, do you commit the things of God to them? How about expectations; do you expect minimums, or do you expect great things generationally from the LORD through your faithful service and the faithful service of those you commit the things of God to? I pray these question are received in love from a fellow-laborer, and through the love of God in Christ.
May the LORD bless.
Maxwell, J., 1998. The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726