Practical Solutions to Loving and Leading

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP)

Love and Lordship in Focus…Discipleship in Christ requires study of God’s Word along with proper application of it in our thoughts, lives, and relationships.  Only then can we grow in Him and disciple others to do the same, which is exactly what we are called to do.

We’ve been looking at what God says in His Word to overcome our own flesh and pride, the world and the enemy, to love and lead in line with His will and Covenant order. Let’s now look at the practical and expected outcomes as we apply them in our lives, families, and in His Church.

As families and churches focus on the following in obedience-based discipleship, these will become more prevalent in our lives, homes, and relationships and in His Body:

1) The Lordship of Christ (Truth) will be our top priority. (Luke 14:25-35)

We must begin to see true discipleship in our lives as much more than just attending church, giving some money and serving others. We must make Christ Lord of all of our lives, with all our hearts, as we die to self and take up our cross to follow Him! Attending, giving and serving will be in line with what He has called us to and how we lovingly obey Him in all things!

Discipleship is a heart surrendered to Him and a life of maturation in Him.

Hopefully you notice the intentional repetition from previous posts. We looked at the Scriptural Truths that we’re called to in order to truly love and lead as Christ taught and modeled. Now we’re looking at what our loving obedient responses need to be in order for these Truths to become actual solutions and lifestyles in a world that increasingly calls them radical.

With that said our next practical application in obedience to His Word…we need to be taught and to:

2) Teach disciples to first know God’s love for us, followed by loving Him with all we are and then loving who we are in Christ so we can love others. (Mark 12:29-31)

Again we assume that salvation equals maturity and yet God’s Word tells us that when we are saved we are “born again”…an infant in Christ. We need to be taught/discipled as to what it means to know God’s Love and to love Him with all we are before we can know and love ourselves and then love others. These are the clear priority commands in His Word. Let’s obey accordingly and love like He does!

This is how it is to look in our lives and relationships for His Kingdom and Glory…

3) Obedience-based discipleship and maturity in Christ will be the priority and be evident in Church teaching, in our relationships and serving others, beginning in the home and family.  (Ephesians 4:14-16)

Often as I share and speak I will have pastors or church leaders ask me if what they’re doing is discipleship? I want to be clear as to what they’re asking so I have them share with me what they mean and they always point to their weekend or Sunday preaching and their classroom or small group teachings (if they have these).

My response is that while these are certainly part of God’s design and can lay a foundation for discipleship, in and of themselves they are not discipleship. I then ask  2 questions crucial for any and all discipleship…and where we fall so far short of making disciples who make disciples:

1) What is the Kingdom fruit of relationships and maturity from the preaching and teaching?

2) What accountability do you have for obedience to the preaching and teaching to ensure folks are maturing in The Lord?

Preaching and teaching are necessary but discipleship goes much deeper and we are all called to be disciples who make disciples. Do you love God in obedience to Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)?

The discipleship of all peoples begins in our homes, churches and communities!

As we continue to follow the Truth of Scripture in how we are to make disciples of Christ in loving relationships, the following will occur…

4) We will begin to revalue and rebuild a Kingdom marriage and family culture that emphasizes:

– Teaching/accountability in agape relationships and sexual purity (Hebrews 13:4);

– Relational servant-leadership modeled/taught in the home (Matthew 20:24-28);

– Generational discipleship beginning in the home and reinforced in churches (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

This has to be more than just making church converts that attend, give and serve…it has to be those who are sold out to Christ!

He’s called us and will see us through…to be like Him and help others do the same!

Making Disciples, Not Just Converts –

The next application from God’s Word flies in the face of our flesh and culture. We could entitle this “The Discipline of Love” as the world hates to see those 2 words together…discipline and love. They want love to be all about feelings, pleasure and satisfying their own desires. God’s Word and Son show us a completely different Love rooted in Truth…selfless, sacrificial, unconditional and self-giving! (John 15:12-13, 17; 13:34-35)…

5) Building relationships is taught as part of Spiritual Disciplines and Discipleship rather than deferring to the culture’s concept of relationships occurring naturally:

– Discipling and mentoring, Serving and relational servant-leadership flows from applying Scriptures with the understanding that good relationships are formed in the discipline of The Holy Spirit and in line with God’s Word rather than just according to our natural, selfish flesh and desires.

We can only do this by The Holy Spirit in our lives in the power of The Risen Christ!

As we follow God’s Word and continue to grow in faith, love and obedience as disciples of Christ, abiding in Him, we will see the following:

6) Our maturity in Christ focuses on and builds a family-based Church rather than a corporate, business-based model driven by goals and outcomes. (1 Timothy 3:4-5)

Instead of worldly success defined by numbers, He produces Kingdom fruit through patience, perseverance and pruning (John 15:1-11). This is what we are called to, what discipleship looks like, and what will build His Church that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against!

Continuing in loving obedience to God’s Word for building relationships that reflect His Love and making disciples who live in and share His Truth in love, we find…

7) The Biblical emphasis of discipleship in loving relationships as Kingdom fruit is prioritized and drives decision-making with regard to programs, growth, finances, service and other elements rather than the reverse. (Galatians 6:7-10; 1 Peter 4:17)

Living in His Word of Truth is the only thing that sets us free from the tyranny of a worldly success model of church!

The final solution from God’s Word regarding how we are to love and lead is actually the conclusion and outcome of disciples making disciples in loving relationships. This is not only for individual salvation and sanctification but collectively we mature as Christ’s Church that can reach and impact a depraved, broken and hurting culture for His Kingdom and Glory (Ephesians 4:14-16)…

8)  A familial and relational Church develops disciples who serve, give, share, and lead as a result of priority principles of Christ’s Lordship and our discipleship rather than service opportunities and programs masquerading as discipleship. Beginning in our marriages and families, loving service is essential in discipleship and Church growth but should predominantly flow from study and maturity, personally and relationally, and expectation of, and growth in, obedience rather than preceding it. (1 Timothy 3:4-5)

For far too long we’ve come up with ways to “love and lead” that actually put the cart before horse as we’ve not made disciples but church converts. In so doing much is done out of serving in the flesh rather than maturity in The Word, The Spirit and loving relationships. This happens easily in a broken world but it is not in line with God’s Word. May we not be deceived but rather follow His Word in making disciples in our families and in His Church so the world will know and desire Christ as Savior and Lord. (Matthew 7:21-23)

Loving Relationships and Disciple-making  (John 13:35; 15:12)

As we’ve walked through God’s Word and Covenant Order in these posts over the last year it leads us to some provocative questions:

Who’s your Lord or lord? Either it is the God of Salvation and of all of Creation…or it is satan. There is no in between of our own little kingdom that God is okay with!

Every motive, thought, decision, action and relationship reveals who’s your Lord.

God Word tells us to think on those things we can’t see as they are Eternal rather than dwelling on what we can see which is only temporal (2 Corinthians 4:18)? What do you spend your time dwelling on, responding to and building toward?

How are we really doing when it comes to making disciples, and building loving relationships in our marriages and homes that can stand against the cultural tide and help build the fellowship of believers that is Christ’s Church?

This is Christ’s command.  He has given us all we need to be His disciples and make disciples as we trust in Him and are obedient to His Word. (Philippians 4:13, 19)

As we walk in loving obedience as Christ’s disciples, first and foremost in our marriages and families, and as His Family, The Church, will a world that needs it really hear and see His message of grace, Truth, Love and salvation/sanctification.

They will probably not like it initially; but those with eyes to see and ears to hear cannot help but answer one way or another that they desire to be His or want no part of Him. Let’s show them His Love & Lordship so they can know. (1 John 2:3-5)

“I’ve often wondered what Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” would have looked like if He would have had to run it through most modern-day church boards.”

— Ronald Reagan

“If a church offers no truth that is not available in the general culture…there is not much reason to pay it attention.”                          — Richard John Neuhaus

Food for Thought…There has to be a clear difference in our lives, relationships and message about Christ and the culture for the world to know they need Him.

Love in Action

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
  2. Determine what you need to do to be Christ’s disciple in line with His Word.
  3. Begin today to obey His Word in every part of your life. 

Love and Lordship Prayer Focus…Heavenly Father, forgive me when I have loved and led as the world does.  I desire and ask You to help me love and lead like Jesus in every relationship starting in my marriage and family and then follow through in Christ’s Church. In His Name. Amen.