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God's Not Mad at You
A manual for leadership.

A manual for leadership.

JUNE 29, 2021

/ Programs / Key Life / A manual for leadership.

Steve Brown:
A manual for leadership. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
That was Steve Brown, he’s an author, seminary professor and our teacher on Key Life, a program all about God’s radical grace. We’re committed to bringing you Bible teaching that’s honest, straight-forward and street-smart. Keep listening to hear truth that’ll make you free.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking and we’re, and I didn’t take the time to read that entire text again. I did it a few days ago, but you want to keep your Bible open starting at the 12th verse of the first chapter of Acts to the end of the first chapter of Acts. That is a section that is dealing primarily with the problem of leadership and by digging in and looking at some important principles, we’re able to see about leadership as it applies today, in a country even, in a nation, in a city, but more important than all of that leadership in the church. Now we’re going to turn to some of the qualifications that are revealed in this chapter on leadership. And it’s not what you think. You don’t call leaders, because they’re the best looking or because they’re the smartest or because they have degrees or because they’re physicians, you call a leader because, well, we’re going to see what their qualifications are. And the first qualification is leadership is always within the context of the already given. Leadership is always in the context of the already given, Acts 1:16.

“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David.

And then in 21 and 22 of that first chapter.

“So one of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

In II Timothy 3:16-17, it says.

All Scripture

Not part of it.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training and righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Listen to me, God is not looking for creative leaders. He’s looking for obedient leaders, leaders who know what the Scripture says and are willing to lead on the basis of that manual rather than their own charismatic personality. We have in Presbyterian circles, a thing that’s called a Book of Church Order and it tells you everything about everything that you want to know about the church and how to do it decently in an order. And some of our guys put candles beside that book of church order, kneel and worship there. Now I’m for having some kind of constitution, some kind of some kind of way to do things, so we don’t get confused. If you’re a moderator of a meeting and you don’t know Robert’s Rules of Order, then you probably ought to get that book and read it. Those are good things. But the basic thing is a revelation and a reality of the past that has been given to you and God says, don’t mess it up. It’s the gauntlet that’s been passed. It’s something that you’re a part of that started long before you were born. It’s the Bible, the manual for leadership. People are always asking me, I’m looking for a new church, what should I look for? And I said, well, find the church where people are trying their best to love each other. Porcupines trying to hug each other in a storm, as Chuck Swindoll said. Look for a church, where Christ is exalted. And then I always say, look for a church where the Bible is taught and believed. Why is that? Because leadership is always within the context of the given. I, one time, I’d been the pastor of a church that almost died, one time. They called me and said everything was fine. And they lied to me. I mean, they were in serious trouble. They had built a building, they couldn’t pay for. This was in Boston. And they had had church fights that had been in all the papers. It was not a very, they literally had fist fights in the narthex of the church. They didn’t tell me about all this. And I told Jesus, you could have told me, but you didn’t tell me either. I got there. And I thought, I don’t know, I don’t know whether I’ve been sent here to have a funeral or a resurrection. And since I’m, God’s servant, I’ll do whatever you want, but it’s kind of scary, frankly, and you know what God did. And it was one of the most exciting times in my life. I didn’t even, I had come from a very liberal, left, wacko seminary. I didn’t even know what the Bible taught, and I decided I better get an authority and decided to teach the Bible. And I stayed one verse ahead of that congregation. And, then God’s Spirit came, you know, we, we weren’t good giving a dime to missions. And then we had a missionary conference. None of us had ever been to one. And, then we raised money for missions and then we doubled and then it tripled and then it quadrupled, the Jesus movement happened during that time. And these kids came in droves from our church. They came from colleges and universities around and what had been an empty church, where the bad guys, all three of them sat in the balcony and the good guys, all three of them sitting downstairs, it started filling up and they did an article in the paper, on our church, that was just the opposite from all the articles. God did a wonderful thing. And I look back on that time and he did it for me as much as he did that congregation, I thought we were going to have a funeral and we had a resurrection and it was good. But the good thing about that time, even as scared as I was, is that I couldn’t make it any worse. I mean, it was so bad. There was nothing I could do that could make it any worse. So, if the thing went down and we closed the doors and sold the property, it wouldn’t be my fault. I didn’t do it. Somebody else did it in the past. And then I went to this church in Florida where my predecessors had all been men, who were real leaders been. Ben Haden was one of them. John Huffman was one of them. And, there had been three or four pastors before me and the pulpit committee said, we decided to call you, but you’re following some tremendous leaders. So, don’t mess it up. Well, that’s exactly what’s going on here in the book of Acts. I mean, this isn’t happening in a vacuum. It’s happening in a Biblical context. And these men were taking the gauntlet and were running with it. And so leadership always happens within the context of the given. And the given in particular is Scripture. Man, one came to me one time and asked if I could help. And I said, I’d do what I could. He said, listen, I’m trying to discern God’s will in relationship to my mistress. I thought I’d misunderstood. And I said, would you repeat that? And he said it again, and I told him, listen, you’re crazy. It’s very clear what Scripture says about your mistress. The question is whether or not you’re going to do it. Well, that’s the same with any leader. The Scripture is clear about, for instance, we’re living in a country, filled with people who are trying to make everybody else who lives in this country guilty. And the problem is you don’t get to decide that, in a culture where people no longer believe in forgiveness and redemption, the only option is they’re bad guys and good guys. And we’re the good guys and you’re the bad guys and self-righteousness reigns supreme and self-righteousness is a horrible thing. And so they keep pointing fingers at the bad guys. That would be me. And I’m, I’m getting, I’m getting tired of it. I didn’t do that. How do I know I didn’t do that, because the Bible tells me I didn’t do that. I operate from a given and that given is a standard that measures my actions and my thoughts, what is good and what’s bad, what’s a violation and what isn’t a violation. And nobody gets to decide that except God himself. And so it’s very important that leaders understand Scripture, that they see church history and what’s gone on before. That has nothing to do with goodness, it has to do with redemption and following the one who was called, it’s in the context of a given. One of the tragedies of the church is that when seminaries quit teaching the absolute authority of Scripture, we cut away the one thing that makes her go. And that is leadership in the context of the given. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown, teaching us from Acts 1:12-26, about the qualifications of leadership. So much still to discover here about this important subject. And we will resume our exploration tomorrow. Please join us. Well lately, you may have heard us mention that Steve’s newest book Talk the Walk is available on audio book. As Steve says, even if you don’t like the audio book, you can just let his basso profundo voice help you drift off to sleep. But it may be that you’re not familiar with this book. In case, hey, no worries. The book’s full title is Talk the Walk: How to be Right Without Being Insufferable. The premise is this, that we as Christians may be right on issues of salvation and theology, but we often miss the less articulated truths of humility, love and forgiveness. As a way of introduction, we’ve actually created a special booklet featuring excerpts from Talk the Walk and we would love to send it to you for free. So claim your copy right now by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also drop an e-mail to Steve@keylife.org to ask for that booklet. By mail send your request to

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