Leaders are people who set an example. If anyone is copying you, then you are a leader.
We are looking for leaders who set an example that is worth following: people who want to serve, people who care for others, people who want to be an example more than they want to be the boss, people who don't mind if others get the credit, people who will be worthy of a gold medal on the day that the Lord Jesus is revealed.*
If you know someone like that, learn from them. Learn from their character. Try to imitate it. Don't waste your time trying to copy examples that are not worth following. That's the way you become a godly leader.
Good leaders are self-controlled and alert. They know how easy it is to slip away from the Lord. They know that they are in a daily spiritual battle which they do not want to lose.
I thank God for the many people who have led me. Some were or are officially 'leaders' in the church. Some were pastors or elders. Others had no official leadership position, but they drew me towards a closer relationship with the Lord. They cared. They loved. I am so grateful to God for them. And for those who set me the example that encourages me to lead today.
Don't try to become a leader: you already are one. Instead, let God get to grips with your character. There's a gold medal to be won.
More about this on Sunday.
(* When Peter writes about a crown of glory he means the first prize for winning a race. 1 Peter 5:4)
This week the Bible tells us that above all we are to love one another deeply.
Love is always the main thing; the Bible tells us this again and again. The words 'above all' and 'deeply' make it clear that this is our priority.
Here's how it works: if something is loving it is good; if it is not loving then it is not good. It really is that simple.
If someone wants to love and care then we as a church can safely partner with them. It doesn't matter much whether or not they believe the things about God that we do. They are our friends. If some people do not want to love then we are going to need to keep some distance. We should keep loving them, as far as we can, but we cannot be partners with people who do not love.
There are many around us who do not bear the name of Christ like we do, but they are good people. I thank God for many people like this.
1 Peter 4 gives a list of behaviours that we are to avoid. They are on this list because they are not loving. We are then told to use whatever gifts we have to serve others. The one gift that is singled out is hospitality, the ability to welcome others and show God's love to them.
And if it hurts? Peter says we are to commit ourselves to our faithful creator and continue to do good. More about this on Sunday.
Sorry everyone ... due to the snow Nick's visit has been cancelled. We will rearrange for a later date.
Tomorrow we are privileged to welcome Nick Bundock to our church meeting. He has a vital story to tell and I am delighted that he is coming.
We are going to think about sexuality and inclusion. It's not about the rights and wrongs of same sex-marriage or same-sex activity. It's about our desire to create a place where people can safely be themselves, no matter who they are or what they do.
I often preach about love. I do this because Jesus stressed its importance. His apostles agreed, claiming that whoever loves has obeyed that whole law and that God is love. Our faith is not about obeying a set of rules; it is about expressing the love of God.
You are invited to share in this discussion.
This week I want you to practice being gentle. Try to treat people as Jesus would treat them. Try to tame any desire you have to hurt someone. Try to control your anger. Be nice to people.