From the Global South Encounter 4 in Singapore: Bible Study Thursday morning led by the Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah, Assistant Bishop of Diocese of Singapore
Today’s question for Bible Study is: “Is your vision of leadership too accommodating to your own comfort level? “
Today’s Scriptures are Isaiah 50:4-9 and 2 Timothy 1:8-14
3 questions on Leadership
We need to have:
•leadership that flows from intimate communion with God
•Leadership that expresses costly obedience
•Leadership that reflects holy confidence
We have each experienced the hostility of a world opposed to God. Isaiah 50:1 says that God has divorced our mother city; therefore we are in exile. We have a choice: we can trust God and take his provision or build our own fire or walk by our own torch. Which will you choose: your own ability or God’s merciful provision?
Isaiah 50:4: The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.
The Lord has given me an instructed tongue. Isaiah 49:2 says that he made my tongue like a sharpened sword. God gives the WORD that sustains this speaker and sustains the weary. Morning by morning the heart is prepared (by God himself) to hear His still small voice. This gift is new every morning.
My children ask me almost every day, “What is the word the Lord has given you today?” We talk daily about the Word from the Lord and I have trained my children to listen so they, when mature, can hear the Lord for themselves.
When we become disciples, we are given a gifted ear to hear the Lord and a gifted tongue to speak His Word. Therefore the servant can hear the still small voice and speak the Word of the Lord.
We function in a house that is an unrepentant institution (the whole Church, infected over the millennium by the world). Unless we seek the Word of the Lord daily, we will be shaped by the institution, not by God. We are rewarded by the praise we seek. Do we desire God’s praise or man’s? Where do your actions lead you? Whose praise do you desire?
Listening to God and saying so publicly will lead to criticism, antagonism and abuse, even from fellow Church members. We suffer the sting of shame when that happens because shame as an affliction is in the Church now. Even after the criticism, antagonism or abuse, we must be willing and ready to speak the Word of the Lord and not return evil for evil. We must be willing to pay the costly obedience that Christ paid on the cross and trust again in God’s ability to heal every conflict and every hurt.
50: 7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
But, the Lord helps me. Therefore I have not been disgraced. Therefore, I set my face like flint. Therefore I shall not be put to shame. People will heap shame upon you. Shame is the most corrosive abuse, but conflict costs you friends, peace and mental anguish. Sometimes, we will make the wrong decision to avoid feeling shame because the poison behind shame is that you are secretly afraid that you are what is said: a fool who has taken the wrong path. God will shield and heal you, but it requires your costly obedience to His way and His Word.
Whatever happens, whether it is conflict, criticism, antagonism or abuse, we want to be found obedient to Christ. To do so, we must have Holy Confidence, based not on our own understanding or our own merit, but on the power of the sovereign Lord. God Almighty will help us and sustain us in the midst of the worst conflict and suffering.
Now we will go to 2 Timothy 1: 8-14. “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. “
God tells us through Paul that He is able to guard whatever He has entrusted to us, especially that deposit of His Word. This is so that I may speak His Word with confidence, for it cannot be taken away from me.
How can we overcome shame? We must know that God will vindicate us. No accuser or prosecuting attorney can overcome the power of the Holy Spirit.
God will vindicate and confirm and reconfirm, even if it is on the other side of eternity. Yes, it may be on the other side of eternity.
We must decide if we want to be an army of sheep led by a lion or an army of lions led by a sheep. Remember, “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.”
In summary, leadership flows from intimate communion. How is your communion? Have you lost your first love?
Leadership depends on costly obedience. Can you drink the same cup that Christ drank?
Leadership reflects holy confidence. Will you leave your country and enter a vulnerable location? Will you expose yourself outside of your comfort zone? If you want to walk on water, you have to first step out of the boat.
So let me ask you again, leaders of the Global South: Will we be an army of sheep led by a lion, or an army of lions, led by a sheep? AMEN.