This weekend we celebrate freedom. It is right to give thanks to God for the freedom we have in America. The American Revolution was a war for freedom. In the name of liberty, the Americans were willing to go to war with their own government, England. England was the greatest empire in the world, possessing the best army and navy in the world. It was a miracle that the battle was won. Undoubtedly, the assembled leadership behind this revolution was also a miracle.
As a group, the American leaders of the Founding era were of a moral distinction and political capability unsurpassed in world history. The weight of historical documents demonstrate that the founders of our nation where mature and faithful followers of Jesus Christ. In addition, they believed that freedom could not be achieved apart from a morality that was guided by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Because of this influence, America has taken a unique path in history that has allowed for a prosperity and the opportunity to truly be free.
As with the example above, the profound influence that leaders have on any given group of people can be literally amazing. Leaders can affect the rise and fall of nations through the decisions that they make. Just as significant, are the decisions of church leaders within individual churches. Pastor and author, Peter Scazzero in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church makes the following point, “The overall health of any church or ministry depends primarily on the emotional and spiritual health of its leadership.” Scazzero asserts that the roots of dysfunction and brokenness in a church begin with a leadership that is not grounded in sound biblical teaching.
An Imbalance of Truth and Grace
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8: 31 – 32)
In “Changes that Heal,” Christian psychologist Henry Cloud demonstrates how a person living by God’s grace and truth leads to emotional healing and growth. Grace is the unmerited favor of God toward people. Understanding grace is understanding God’s love and acceptance and His willingness to pardon us from sin. Truth is God’s written word in scripture. Truth is His moral law that acts as our guide for living. Cloud describes truth as, “the form that our soul and spirit should take.”
When truth and grace are out of balance, it leads to an imbalanced and dysfunctional life. When a leader is leading from an imbalance of truth and grace, it can ultimately lead to the moral failure of that individual. Even worse, an imbalanced leader can lead a church or collectively an entire denomination to decline and ultimate failure.
If you are a leader or a member of a church, consider the discipline of going deep. “Going deep” means taking an honest look at the heart of an individual and assessing if there is a healthy balance of truth and grace. For leaders, we encourage a humble submission to accountability and a constant evaluation to determine if your teachings are grounded in God’s truth and grace. If you are a member of a church, we encourage you to evaluate if your leadership is grounded in God’s truth and grace. To help in this evaluation, here are some suggested questions to ask your church leaders:
- Does absolute moral truths exist?
- Is this absolute moral truth defined by the bible?
- Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
- Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
- Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
- Is Satan real?
- Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
- Is the Bible accurate in all of its teaching?
Those holding a biblical worldview, or a faith grounded in truth and grace can answer “yes” to the above questions. These questions were developed by Christian researcher, George Barna, in a nationwide survey. Results of the survey unfortunately demonstrated that many church leaders do not teach or lead from a foundation of truth and grace.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
This week reflect on the following concept: Jesus is the perfect leader. In order to grow and change we need leadership that is a reflection of Jesus. Because we are blessed with freedom, we have the opportunity to choose leaders who stand on the foundation of God’s truth and grace. Use the above survey to evaluate the health of your church leadership this week.
Thank God for the freedom that we have together in America. May you and your family have a great 4th of July weekend!
Richard Hoffman Ph.D.
Christian Counseling Associates of Western PA