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Respecting leaders (1 Timothy 6:2)

If the masters are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. Those slaves should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved. Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:2) An exercise I've often done with youth ministry teams is to divide them in half and have one half list all the benefits of being part of a team while the other half lists all the disadvantages. I then have them present their points and...

March 23, 2020

Hope amidst anxiety

I recall being on a flight into Wellington airport on a wet muggy day and when we landed a mist caused by condensation rose from the floor of the aircraft. A young man with an intellectual disability was seated a few rows in front of me and on seeing the mist started loudly yelling in a panicked voice, "FIRE, FIRE!" What stuck in my mind about the incident was not his cries, but the look of alarm on the face of a member of the cabin crew as she rushed down the aisle. Moments before I had thought...

March 20, 2020

Where's the evidence? (1 Timothy 6:1)

All slaves should show full respect for their masters so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching. (1 Timothy 6:1) Some time ago there was a song out with a line that read, "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" The song was not talking about evidence such as how often you went to church or even how often it read your Bible and prayed. It was not even talking about whether or not you had some leadership responsibility in ...

March 16, 2020

The Need to Be Known (1 Timothy 5:25)

In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light. (1 Timothy 5:25)  I spent hours helping a young person, and in the process a real change took place in their life. They accepted Christ and choose to be baptised. Before they were baptised they had the opportunity to share in front of the whole church how they came to  know and trust Christ, which they did, but in the process of sharing they made not a single mentio...

March 9, 2020

Revealing Hidden Sin (1 Timothy 5:24)

Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later. (1 Timothy 5:24) One of the dangers we face in living out our faith in front of those we are leading is that we make it all about appearances. We look for ways to sound spiritual and look holy. We learn to say the right things and to drop in some Christian jargon and a little theology - just enough to impress people into thinking we know what we're ta...

March 2, 2020

Wellbeing and Restraint (1 Timothy 5:23)

Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often. (1 Timothy 5:23) It seems to us like an odd command Paul gives to Timothy here to "drink a little wine" especially coming right after a command to "keep himself pure". But Paul was certainly not encouraging drunkenness or even "social drinking". Water supplies in those days were not as pure as what comes out of our taps today and it appears as though Timothy suffered stomach ail...

February 24, 2020

Maturity takes time (1 Timothy 5:22)

Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader. Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22) Whenever a young person turns their back on their faith it's difficult to watch, but this occasion caused me more concern than most. I spent five years serving in one particular youth ministry and of all the young people I'd had contact with, this person had more reason to believe than most. From an unchurched background, he'd responded to Christ quickly and enthusiastic...

February 17, 2020

Impartiality (1 Timothy 5:21)

I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the highest angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favoritism to anyone. (1 Timothy 5:21) Every parent knows that when it comes to their children, they have no favourites! There are days (or weeks and months!) when the company of one child is more enjoyable than another - where one child is easier to like than another. Yet even at these times, a good parent will love their children equally and show no f...

February 10, 2020

Shamed! (1 Timothy 5:20)

Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others. (1 Timothy 5:20) Occasionally you come across a verse in the Bible that causes you to blink before quickly moving on. This is one such verse! It's embarrassing and shameful enough when we sin but was Paul really suggesting that our sin should be made known to everyone and that we should be reprimanded in front of the whole church? Such a practice would seem to either make for very lon...

February 3, 2020

Book Review: "Sustainable Youth Ministry" by Mark DeVries

All youth leaders are “interim” therefore instead of building youth ministries around themselves, good youth ministers will work with the church to develop a sustainable youth ministry that will continue on after they leave. This sentence summarises the basic premise of "Sustainable Youth Ministry". Too often churches look for the "superstar" youth worker who will solve all their youth ministry problems. The author, Mark DeVries, sets out in this book to uncover why this is not a good idea a...

January 28, 2020

Adding numbers or growing leaders?

One of the challenges we face in youth ministry is that effectiveness is difficult to measure. Fruit takes time to mature and consequently, the outcomes of what we accomplish from week to week are not immediately measurable. In the absence of immediate means of measurement, we find ourselves settling for short term ways to assess what we do and to justify our effectiveness, "How many attended last week's programme?" "How many were saved at Easter Camp?" "How many are coming to church on Sunday m...

January 27, 2020

Rumour and Gossip (1 Timothy 5:19)

Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19) One of the greatest joys you'll have in leadership is serving alongside others as part of a team. Being part of a team means that there are more gifts and abilities available to enhance your leadership and the ministry you oversee. At times you'll become aware of your own weaknesses and limitations and it's in these situations having people who can do things you can't, will be of gr...

December 23, 2019

Respecting Leadership (1 Timothy 5:17,18)

Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Timothy 5:17,18) You won't be a leader for long, before discovering that it can be hard work. There will be nights you'll want to stay home or go out with friends but will be unable to do so because y...

December 16, 2019

Initiative (1 Timothy 5:16)

If a woman who is a believer has relatives who are widows, she must take care of them and not put the responsibility on the church. Then the church can care for the widows who are truly alone. (1 Timothy 5:16)There is an old story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. It goes like this: "There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Ev...

December 9, 2019

Idle hands (1 Timothy 5:13-15)

And if they are on the list, they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business and talking about things they shouldn’t. So I advise these younger widows to marry again, have children, and take care of their own homes. Then the enemy will not be able to say anything against them. For I am afraid that some of them have already gone astray and now follow Satan. (1 Timothy 5:13-15) Have you ever wondered what you'd do if you s...

December 2, 2019

Desire (1 Timothy 5:11,12)

The younger widows should not be on the list, because their physical desires will overpower their devotion to Christ and they will want to remarry. Then they would be guilty of breaking their previous pledge.I recall meeting with a teen in our youth ministry who was getting over a breakup with a young girl. "I'm finished with girls!" he vowed. With a smile I suggested he write this down and I'd read it at his wedding one day. I recall he duly wrote out his "pledge" and handed it to me. I learnt ...

November 25, 2019

Ready to do good (1 Timothy 5:9,10)

A widow who is put on the list for support must be a woman who is at least sixty years old and was faithful to her husband. She must be well respected by everyone because of the good she has done. Has she brought up her children well? Has she been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly? Has she helped those who are in trouble? Has she always been ready to do good? (1 Timothy 5:9,10) Anyone who has ever spent any time reading the Bible will have come across a passage that they quickl...

November 18, 2019

Online or out of sight?

Those of you doing youth work will know that it's rare for young people to turn up unannounced and alone at a youth programme for the first time. We see new people who have been brought by friends and occasionally a new family will attend church and you'll get to invite their son or daughter to come to youth group, but turning up alone and unannounced is rarer.A few years ago two young sisters did just that at our Friday night youth programme. Across the room I noticed these two girls enter the ...

November 13, 2019

Happy Families (1 Timothy 5:8)

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. (1 Timothy 5:8)If I was a church leader and was considering having you on a leadership team I'd want to ask you a few questions first and one of them would be this: "How do you get on with your family?"Now I know that family dynamics are not always easy and at times there can be tension that's not entirely the fault of the prospective leader...

November 11, 2019

5 Practices of a "Learn-it-all"

Are you a "know-it-all" or a "learn-it-all"?I think there is something in the Kiwi DNA that pulls us toward the know-it-all end of the scale. We are still in some sense a nation of do-it-yourselfers, a holdover from the pioneer days when doing it yourself was a necessity and people would proudly label themselves a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.This mindset can easily transfer over into ministry and manifests itself in subtle thoughts patterns that say "I can figure this out myself" or ...

November 5, 2019

Choices (1 Timothy 5:5-7)

Now a true widow, a woman who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. She prays night and day, asking God for his help. But the widow who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives. Give these instructions to the church so that no one will be open to criticism. (1 Timothy 5:5-7) One thing I've noticed as I reflect back on years of working with young people is that they seem to have an increasing number of choices in life. Some of these are relatively trivi...

November 4, 2019

Setting Boundaries (1 Timothy 5:3,4)

Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. (1 Timothy 5:3,4) One of the challenges we all face when caring for young people is that of setting boundaries. We want to be available to them and help them as best we are able and yet there are limits to the amount of time we can invest in them.We all have...

October 28, 2019

Purity and Practice (1 Timothy 5:2b)

And treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. (1 Timothy 5:2b) I remember many years ago, back in my "single male" days, going to a church to undertake an internship, and meeting with the senior pastor for the first time. One of the first things he said to me surprised me at the time. "Be careful about any friendships you develop with young women in the youth ministry." Looking back, I see more clearly than I did then, the wisdom of such advice. When you take on a leader...

October 18, 2019

Respect Rules (1 Timothy 5:1,2a)

Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother. (1 Timothy 5:1,2a). One of the best pieces of advice I received when I was training to be a youth pastor was this: "Never talk down to anyone. Talk to everyone as using the same manner you would use if you were talking to your boss." It's advice that has served me well and can be summed up in one wo...

October 14, 2019

Somebody's Watching (1 Timothy 4:15b-16)

Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:15b-16) Being in leadership can sometimes be described as being "under a magnifying glass and inside a goldfish bowl." It can feel like a goldfish bowl because everyone can see your life. There is no hiding. When we fail, people notice. When our acti...

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