Thursday, October 20, 2011

Moral Character

It has become my pattern to go on an annual sermon planning retreat in November. Perhaps partly as a result of 32 years of leading the music ministry in four churches and wishing I knew well ahead of time what the sermons would be about. So, while it feels good to give the worship teams the tentative texts, working titles, themes, and thrusts for the coming year,  an equally beneficial result is that I always know what I'll be preaching. The retreat is preceded and dominated with prayer as I seek direction from God. 

Also, for the past four years, God has given a unifying theme for the year. The emphasis for 2012 is going to be the fourth part of our goal/direction as a church—"live like Jesus: love God, love others, make disciples" (fulfilling the great commandments and the great commission with Jesus as the paradigmatic self). I would love to have a catch phrase for making disciples but that hasn't come, yet. Two years ago, when loving God was the theme, we emphasized being connected to God by practicing spiritual disciplines and used being "hard-wired" to God as the mantra.

Before this year's retreat, in just a couple of weeks, I'm trying to read several books and become familiar with two or three small group studies on discipling. I would like to share an excerpt I just read in one of those books.

From John MacArthur in Twelve Ordinary Men (2002), p.46:
"A third element in the making of a leader—besides the right raw material and the right life experiences—is the right character. Character, of course, is absolutely critical in leadership. America's current moral decline is directly linked to the fact that we have elected, appointed, and hired too many leaders who have no character. In recent years, some have tried to argue that character doesn't really matter in leadership; what a man does in his private life supposedly should not be a factor in whether he is deemed fit for a public leadership role. That perspective is diametrically opposed to what the Bible teaches. Character does matter in leadership. It matters a lot. 
"In fact, character is what makes leadership possible. People simply cannot respect or trust those who lack character. And if they do not respect a man, they will not follow him."
So, I'm looking for material on making and being disciples and I get a strong statement that is very relevant to politics as well as the leadership that is imperative in the discipling process. While others blindly say, as if a self-given entitlement, "God bless America!", I must plead, "God, convict America, bring us to our knees, and give us godly leaders with moral character."

Oh yes, one more thing as a side: Be sure to visit our new, though apparently temporary, web site.