The Marriage–>Family–>Church Leadership Connection

(1 Timothy 3:4-5)

We continue to develop the issues from God’s Word regarding relational servant-leadership in our homes and in Christ’s Church, I want to share what I’ve experienced in my own life as well as what many others have shared with me.

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has veteran tempter Screwtape reveal a little secret about human beings: we are incurably idealistic. “Do what you will,” he warns, “there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.”

Following are several issues to consider as we determine whether and where we are compromising on God’s Word and in His Church:

1) PRIDE (1 John 2:16) – It looks a lot better to be on a church board than to do the humble and often unseen work of raising and training our children as a prerequisite to leading His Church. We must humble ourselves and seek His Word and will above our own positions of influence or recognition. This is always subtle but prevalent when held up against the standard and teaching that marriage and family must be the precursor to relational servant-leadership in His Church.

May we be gracefully broken of pride and self in any and every way so Christ can accomplish His will in our life, marriage, and family, and in His Church according to His Word.

As we contemplate the issues of our flesh, the world and the enemy that keep us from building true loving relationships in His agape and in so doing learn to be relational servant-leaders, here’s a second problem that is very prevalent in our culture and even our churches today…

2) There is a lack of truth teaching on relationships, sexuality, marriage, and family and relational servant-leadership – much of the modern day church speak of servant-leadership but ignore or are passé when it comes to God’s command to practice and master it first in the home. When we fail to teach AND HOLD ACCOUNTABLE FOR OBEDIENCE to His Word on relationships, sexuality and marriage, we not only see the destruction in our families—we experience the fallout in relationships and leadership in our churches.

Let us purify our hearts, minds and bodies by Your grace and mercy for Christ’s sake. Let us desire and know that in Christ we can live lives of holiness and purity that glorify Him! (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)  This leads to our third issue…

3) Marriage/Family is devalued by culture and not truthfully defended by our churches as defined in Scripture – compromise, soft-selling, or silence on the issues of relationships, sexuality, and marriage gives our young people, and now even middle age and older, the illusion that the world’s values on these issues is perfectly fine as long as we’re still coming to church. I hear this constantly.

We must boldly, firmly, and graciously teach and uphold God’s standard for relationships and sexuality, calling out cohabitation, promiscuity, adultery, divorce, homosexuality, polygamy, transgender issues and pedophilia…all porneia (sexual immorality) for the sins that they are. We must also gently and graciously point to the freedom and forgiveness found only in Christ and lived out by His grace in our loving obedience to His Word. (Galatians 5:16-24)

The next issue is not an easy one to receive but pastors and church leaders who know its reality have confirmed it time and time again.

4) Church leadership decisions conform to the world – we have elevated buildings, attendance, and giving to support our assets and programs over discipleship and real relationships. We prioritize the corporate, financial business model over a Kingdom fruit model, which is, loving relationships and family servant-leadership. We must return to the priorities found in God’s Word and Covenant Order and trust Him to guide us in making disciples in loving relationships over budgets and buildings.

The modern day Disciple-Making Movements (DMM) and Church Planting Movements (CPM) are finding this the key to making disciples and building His Church in exponential growth in faith and numbers apart from property and programs.

All or most church leaders do these with good intent but it is easy to get caught up in the show of things and then become enslaved to them, whether we ever intended to or not. In God’s Kingdom, loving relationships trump all else. May we live and lead accordingly and may it begin in our homes.

When we fail to follow God’s Word and conform to the world’s way of loving and leading we sacrifice what God has in store for our families and for Christ’s Church. This is the essence of the final issue (Titus 1:6)…

5) Experience and humility gained from servant leading in the family are lost to both the home and the church. When we shortcut God’s design and order for discipleship training in loving relationships within families, then both our families and our churches lose. The wisdom gained from building intimate relationships in the home and holding each other accountable in those relationships where the most is at stake is lost when we rush into leadership in church. The same is lost in our churches as well.

It is amazing how often the following question stops people in their tracks when it comes to truly serving The Lord according to His Word: Are you serving your marriage, spouse, and family with as much or more time, effort and passion as you are serving those in the church or those the church calls you to serve?

We’ve looked at the deterrents to discipleship, relationships, and relational servant-leaders that ultimately detract or dilute the building of His Church and advancing of His Kingdom.

Oswald Chambers states it as follows, “The main characteristic of young modern life today is an intense craving to be interested (entertained). Literature, amusements, all indicate this tendency, and in religion the Church is apt to pander to the demand to be interested; consequently men won’t face the rugged facts of the Gospel because when the Holy Spirit comes in He challenges a man’s will, demands a reconstruction of his whole life, and produces a change of mind which will work havoc in his former complacency.” (Parentheses added)

Where are we in the church today as we pander to attract folks without pointing them to the high calling of the Gospel—to be Christ’s disciple and to call and help others do the same, to die to self so we can truly live for Him? (Romans 12:1-3)

May we not get so caught up in ourselves and how successful we look to the world but know who we are in Christ and simply point people to Him. We can trust Him with the outcomes, as we are faithful.

Returning to our foundational text in 1 Timothy 3:4-5, consider these questions (and answers) that I ask whenever I share this message and how they spotlight God’s teaching on true love and relational servant-leadership according to His Word, design and commands:

  1. Do you desire to lead in God’s Kingdom? Most will say, “Yes!”
  2. From where will God draw and designate His Kingdom leaders? Some will answer, “From His Church.”
  3. From where does His Word say the leaders in His Church are to come? A few will offer, “The marriage and family, the home?” more as a question than and answer.
  4. Are you preparing yourself to be a leader in His Church, according to His Word, in your marriage and family? This is the key answer as to whether we are to be Church and Kingdom leaders for His Glory!

Again in 1 Timothy 3:4-5, The Holy Spirit, through Paul, poses the poignant question, “How can you lead my family if you can’t or aren’t servant-leading yours?”

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – We must be careful in identifying and selecting relational servant-leaders in Christ’s Church. They will only take us as far as they’ve gone. Too many today have gone far in leading the world but not their family and yet we call them to lead our churches in contradiction to God’s Word. 

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article. Ask The Spirit to show if you where your priorities are with regard to family, church and work.
  2. Take a personal inventory to see how the issues discussed in this post have impacted you.
  3. What will you continue to do or change to prepare to be a leader in Christ’s Church. 
  4. Give some thought to those 4 questions that close this post.