We find one of Paul's great definitions of discipleship in Phil. 1:25 "I want to remain and continue with you for your progress in the faith and your joy."
Producing progress in the faith and joy in God was the way he understood his work with the churches. In 2 Cor 1:24 he says "we don't lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith" Notice the parallel: the opposite of lording over is serving. The way that serving is described in 2 Corinthians is working with them for their joy.How do leaders lead for progress in the faith and joy in God among the people of God? I guess it might have lots of practical outworkings in day by day life. Here are a few of my top ones:
- Help people to delight themselves in the Lord. Help them love God, love the Son of God, love the Spirit, and to give expression to their love. It's the easiest thing in the world to replace being a worshipper with being a professional Christian. Leaders, guard your worship life and lead others
- Help them love the Word of God . It's the easiest thing to start to come to the Bible only to prepare things for others. Guard your life. Watch your life and doctrine closely. You will save yourself and your hearers
- Help people appreciate the benefits of Christ. Adoption, forgiveness of sins, a home in heaven, entrance into God's family, freedom from guilt and the curse of the Law, the gift of the Spirit, a new heart, new desires, a Heavenly Father, a great high priest through whom we have redemption
- Help people see the glory of God in the gospel of his grace. Romans 5 says we reign in life by receiving of his grace and the gift of eternal life. Help them know how to receive and seek God for his grace with them
- Love people at all times and do them good, especially those in difficulty and distress
- Have ambitions for where God might take people. Show them some of what is possible in the Lord if they live and act in faith, especially in world mission
- Help others pray. Pray with them. Show them how you pray. Tell them what you pray for them
It's a much wider vision than merely putting on a programme. Spiritual leadership is a bigger category than other leadership, because we are developing people's souls and their walk with the Lord, not just their skills and abilities. Which means that our investment in them is a much bigger thing than merely training or the passing of information or skill. It is discipling, it should be transformational. Or, as Paul put it, it is working with them for their joy.