Are you feeling it yet? Not the four on the floor bass drum, not the change in weather but the pressure.
Do you feel the pressure? To talk louder so that they’ll hear you. To go bigger so they’ll notice you. To be edgy so they’ll talk about you. Do you feel that? Well, I have. The Christian social media world is as damaging as the rest of it. And not just to the sheep but also to the shepherd. Bombarded by everyone else’s conference schedule, attendance numbers, stage design and who they are rubbing shoulders with digs down in our heart and posts up on the adirondack chair seated in our need to be noticed, and more deeply, respected. We have some incredible instruction in 1 Timothy 2.1-8 for the beast inside that envies, schemes and lusts over what is not yet and what is not ours.
Paul is pouring into Timothy here…
"1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing."
So much to say, so little time. Let’s dive in for a moment together and I want to touch on a few keys to leading quietly. You’ll also notice some references to the Sermon on the Mount throughout that support this understanding on 1 Timothy 2. I think ultimately Paul’s instruction here is to raise up humble leaders, for it is only in humility that God can be glorified through our ministry. Did you see where it started?
1. Have an Outward Focused Prayer Life
(v.1-2) Pray for all people and especially for all the leaders in our life. Become the intercessor you want for your own life because God (through Christ & the Holy Spirit) is our intercessor. The pressure that we earlier spoke of leads us to bring more attention to ourselves, our brand and our movement when our hearts should be centered on bringing attention to Christ. We know in our hearts are pure and when we have crossed over into the dark side or the slightly shaded areas between marketing, evangelism and vanity. The truth is that we are a lot less broken than we feel when we are outward focused in our prayer and thought life. Granted, we’re usually more exhausted because of the constant pouring out and a disciplined Sabbath life becomes all the more vital, but we aren’t as broken as we feel. And then again, sometimes we are just as broken as we feel. I forget who said it but they called Sabbath, the discipline of rejuvenation. Schedule it. Do it. Love it. Praying for others, especially adversaries and other leaders, wrings ours hearts of sour emotions and un-dealt with anger and jealousy (Matt. 5.43-44).
2. Be Better in Private
(v.2) What if we were most godly and holy in private? In Paul’s time there was much persecution for the cause of Christ that praying for leaders was so that they could continue in public ministry without being taken to jail for it. Paul says that “peaceful and quiet lives” “pleases God our Savior”. It breaks my heart every time a Christian wants to pick fights with people who disagree with them. They want to pick public forums to shame others and convince them they are wrong. Has this ever worked in the history of humankind? Yeah, I don’t think so. It usually just makes things worse. That is why Jesus instructs us to give quietly, pray in secret, to fast and not tell anyone about it (Matt. 6.1-8). We don’t give often enough to be pleased with doing it quietly. We aren’t disciplined nor intimate enough to pray in secret because its easier to do it publicly when others are around. Based on my readings on this text as well as the Sermon on the Mount reference text, I don’t believe God is impressed with what we do publicly. It is holiness and godliness when no one is watching that He is impressed with.
3. Repent Often
(v.8) Repentance used to be something we heard from a lot of Christian preachers and teachers back in the day but not so much anymore. I think many of us as leaders don’t model it so it makes it pretty difficult for us to teach on. Paul’s encouragement is to not allow yourself to enter into prayer with ridding your heart of anger, envy and relational strife. Jesus was pretty hardcore in Matt. 5.14-15 "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I dare you to confess. To boast in weakness on a daily basis (2 Cor. 12.5). I dare you to send some apology letters, texts and calls to leaders, students and friends. I dare you to start a message with what an ignoramus you can be at times. Its actually endearing to people and it is obedience to Christ. It frees our heart of pain, our mind of stress, models Christ to others and, most importantly, draws us nearer to Christ.
May we pray outwardly, worship privately and repent often that we might please the Lord and others would be drawn to Christ in us.