For this reason, I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. – 2 Corinthians 13:10
The apostolic age into which the church was born did not have many leaders worth emulating. The Romans lorded authority over their subjects and ruled with an iron fist. The Pharisees tied up heavy burdens for people to carry, craved the most important seats at banquets, practiced religious rituals for show, and actively made it more difficult for people to enter God’s kingdom.
Into that cultural milieu Jesus brought a revolutionary understanding of leadership. He taught that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Those who would aspire to greatness in His kingdom must become the servants of all. So when Jesus called Peter, His explicit command was not “rule my subjects” but “tend my sheep.”
The apostle Paul also embraced this ground-breaking concept of leadership through service. And it was he who ceaselessly reminded Christians and Christian leaders alike to use every available means to promote the spiritual growth of their fellow believers; in short, to build each other up.
How can we Christian leaders build up the family of believers? Paul provides five key practices:
We build others up through our fitting and gracious speech. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
We build others up through our exercise of those spiritual gifts that focus on edifying the church. The one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation … So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church … When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. I Corinthians 14:3, 12, 26
We build others up through loving our neighbor. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding … Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 14:19; 15:2
We build others up through equipping the saints to do the work of ministry. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13
We build others up through the loving, judicious exercise of spiritual authority. Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved … For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. II Corinthians 12:19; 13:10
May we who are Christian leaders speak only words that are good for building up, giving grace to all who listen. May we be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, exercising gifts that upbuild, encourage, and console. May we pursue peace and the good of our neighbors, that they be built up. May we faithfully equip the saints to do the work of ministry, that the body of Christ might be built up. And may we wisely use the authority entrusted to us for building up, and not tearing down, His beloved flock.
Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of Israel our Father, forever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank You, O God, and praise Your glorious name.
Our Father, we thank You for sending Jesus among us as one who served. Thank You that He came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Thank You that though Christ Jesus was in the form of God, He did not count equality with You a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, born in the likeness of men, humbling Himself by being obedient to the point of death on a cross. Thank You for highly exalting Jesus and giving Him the name that is above every name, that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, and that through the Holy Spirit You have given Your people power to be witnesses.
Now that You have conferred authority upon Your people to make disciples of all nations, we pray that You would equip us daily to build others up in their faith, in their hope, and in their love. Fill our mouths with only the words that are good for building others up, suitable to the occasion, giving grace to all those who hear. Fill us, Holy Spirit, equipping us to use those spiritual gifts that can build up, encourage, console, and strengthen. Let us excel in building up the family of God, and let all of our activities and exertions promote edification. Lead us to pursue things that promote peace and mutual upbuilding, doing good to our neighbors.
Lord, pour out apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, and pastoral-teaching anointing so that the saints may be equipped for ministry, in order to build up the body of Christ, to bring unity in the faith and in knowledge, and to foster full spiritual maturity. And let us lovingly and judiciously exercise the authority You have given us to build up and not tear down Your beloved flock, whom You purchased with Your own blood.
We ask all of these things in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, at whose name every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow, Amen.
COO|CFO, Christian Union
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