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Warren Wiersbe on How To Be Victorious Over Fear

Being Victorious Over Fear (Series: Encouragement for Difficult Days)

A lady once approached D. L. Moody and told him she had found a wonderful promise in the Bible that helped her overcome fear. Her verse was Psalm 56:3: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Mr. Moody replied, “Why I have a better promise than that!” And he quoted Isaiah 12:2: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.” Mr. Moody did have a greater promise.

These words from Isaiah 12:2 are worth knowing in these days when it is so easy to become frightened. Jesus told us that in the end times men’s hearts will fail them for fear of the things about to happen; and I believe we are seeing some of this take place today. Psychologists are writing books and magazine articles about overcoming fear.

There are some kinds of fear that are good for us. We warn our children not to go near the busy streets, and we put within them a healthy fear of being struck by a car. Eventually, of course, that infantile fear will be replaced by mature common sense; but until that happens, we dare not take any chances. In fact, the fear of punishment is one basis for discipline. It may not be the highest motive for doing good, but at least it helps us to get started.

The Bible often talks about the fear of the Lord. It tells us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” and that “the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.” This fear, of course, is a proper respect and reverence for God. It is not the cringing fear of a slave before a brutal master, but the proper respect of a son before a loving Father. It is the kind of fear that opens the way to abundant life in Christ. The kind of fear Isaiah 12:2 is talking about is the fear that paralyzes people-the fear that gets into the heart and mind and creates tension and worry, and that keeps a person from enjoying life and doing his best. I meet people every week who are afraid of life, afraid of death, afraid of the past, afraid of the future-in fact, people whose lives are being enslaved by fear.

Jesus Christ never meant for us to be the slaves of fear. It is exciting to read the Bible and discover how many times God says “Fear not” to people. When the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ at Bethlehem, their first words were, “Fear not.” When Peter fell at Jesus’ feet and asked Jesus to depart from him because Peter felt he was a sinful man, Jesus said, “Fear not, Peter.” When Jairus received the bad news that his daughter had just died, Jesus said to Jairus, “Fear not, only believe….” Jesus Christ wants us to conquer fear; and He is able to help us win the battle. What causes fear in our lives? Sometimes fear is caused by a guilty conscience. When Adam and Eve sinned, they felt guilty and became afraid; and they tried to hide from God. Shakespeare was right when he said, “Conscience doth make cowards of us all.” Whenever we disobey God, we lose our close fellowship with Him, and that spiritual loneliness creates fear. We wonder if anybody knows what we have done. We worry about being found out and hope no tragic consequences come from our sins. The solution to that problem, of course, is to seek God’s forgiveness. God promises to cleanse our sins if we will but confess them and forsake them.

Often fear is caused by ignorance. Children are afraid in the night because the shadows look like giants and bears and ghosts. But even adults can get frightened when they really don’t know what is going on. Anxiety about the future, either for ourselves or for our loved ones, can sometimes create fear. Another cause is our own feeling of weakness. We are so accustomed to managing things ourselves that when an unmanageable crisis comes along, we feel helpless and afraid.

Sometimes fear comes, not before the battle or even in the midst of the battle, but after we have won the victory. Often

there is an emotional letdown, and fear rushes in. Abraham had this experience in Genesis 15 after he had waged war against four powerful kings and won the victory. That night as he lay down to sleep, Abraham wondered if those kings would return and challenge him again, and perhaps bring back superior forces. It was then that God appeared to Abraham and said, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1). But when we study all the cases and try to understand the root cause of fear, one truth stands out clearly: the real cause

of fear is unbelief. After stilling a storm that had frightened His disciples out of their wits, Jesus said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Fear and faith can never be friends; and if we are afraid, it is a sign that we have no faith. This is why Isaiah 12:2 says, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.”

The secret of victory over fear is faith in God. There is no problem too great for God to solve, no burden too heavy for God to carry, no battle too overwhelming for God to fight and win. God is big enough to conquer the enemies that rob us of our peace and leave paralyzing fears behind. Isaiah 12:2 doesn’t say, “When I am afraid, I will trust“; it says, “I will trust, and not be afraid.” Faith is not simply medicine to kill the disease; faith is spiritual power to keep us from being infected in the first place.

Notice what the prophet puts first: “Behold, God is my salvation.” If you want to overcome fear, get your eyes off yourself and your feelings, and off the problems that have upset you, and get your eyes on God. The Jewish spies in the Old Testament became frightened when they investigated the Promised Land, because they saw giants and high walls and felt like grasshoppers in comparison. The enemy soldiers were big, and the walls were high, but God was far above all of them. Had the spies lifted their eyes just a bit higher and seen God, they would not have been afraid. So the first step in overcoming fear is to look by faith at God. Worship God, get a fresh glimpse of His greatness and glory, and realize that He is still on the throne. The second step is to lay hold of God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. When you read the Bible, you find your faith growing. You discover that God has always been adequate for the needs of His people.

The third step is to pray and surrender to the Holy Spirit. Tell God about your fears-tell Him that your fears are really evidences of unbelief-and like that concerned man in the Gospel story, ask God to help your unbelief. Surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit of God, because the Spirit can work in you to take away fear

and give you peace. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The Holy Spirit within you can give you power for your weakness; He can generate love; He can give order and discipline to your mind. The Holy Spirit is God’s psychologist, so turn yourself over to Him.

One of the ministries of the Spirit of God is making Jesus Christ real to us. As you pray and read the Word, the Spirit will give you a spiritual understanding of Jesus Christ, and He will become very real to you. Even in the midst of storms and trials, Jesus Christ comes with peace and courage for you.

There is no reason for you to be afraid. Fear will only rob you and buffet you and paralyze you. Jesus Christ can take away your fear and give you peace. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.”

About the Author:

Warren W. Wiersbe is the Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, and is the author of more than 100 books. Billy Graham calls him “one of the greatest Bible expositors of our generation.” Interestingly, Warren’s earliest works had nothing to do with scriptural interpretation. His interest was in magic, and his first published title was Action with Cards (1944).

“It was sort of imbecilic for a fifteen-year-old amateur magician to have the audacity to write a book and send it to one of the nation’s leading magic houses,” Warren says. But having a total of three books published by the L.L. Ireland Magic Company—before the age of 20—gave him a surge of confidence. In later years, he applied his confidence and writing talent to the Youth for Christ (YFC) ministry.

Warren wrote many articles and guidebooks for YFC over a three-year period, but not all his manuscripts were seen by the public eye. One effort in particular, The Life I Now Live, based on Galatians 2:20, was never published. The reason, Warren explains with his characteristic humor, is simple: it was “a terrible book…Whenever I want to aggravate my wife, all I have to say is, ‘I think I’ll get out that Galatians 2:20 manuscript and work on it.’” Fortunately, Warren’s good manuscripts far outnumbered the “terrible” ones, and he was eventually hired by Moody Press to write three books.

The much-sought-after author then moved on to writing books for Calvary Baptist Church. It was during his ten years at Calvary that Expository Outlines on the New Testament and Expository Outlines on the Old Testament took shape. These two works later became the foundation of Warren’s widely popular Bible studies known as the Be series, featuring such titles as Be Loyal (a study on Matthew) and Be Delivered (a study on Exodus). Several of these books have been translated into Spanish.

His next avenue of ministry was Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church, where he served for seven years. He wrote nearly 20 books at Moody before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he and his wife, Betty, now live. Prior to relocating, he had been the senior pastor of Moody Church, a teacher at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a producer of the Back to the Bible radio program.

During all these years of ministry, Warren held many more posts and took part in other projects too numerous to mention. His accomplishments are extensive, and his catalog of biblical works is indeed impressive and far-reaching (many of his books have been translated into other languages). But Warren has no intention of slowing down any time soon, as he readily explains: “I don’t like it when people ask me how I’m enjoying my ‘retirement,’ because I’m still a very busy person who is not yet living on Social Security or a pension. Since my leaving Back to the Bible, at least a dozen books have been published, and the Lord willing, more are on the way.”

Wiersbe’s recent books include Your Next MiracleThe 20 Essential Qualities of a Child of GodClassic Sermons on the Fruit of the SpiritClassic Sermons on Jesus the ShepherdKey Words of the Christian LifeLonely PeopleA Gallery of GraceReal Peace: Freedom and Conscience in the Christian Life, and On Being a Leader for God.

The article above was adapted from Warren W. Wiersbe’s classic encouraging devotional: The Bumps Are What You Climb On: Encouragement For Difficult Days. Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1996.

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Warren Wiersbe: The Power of God’s Name

OT Words for today Wiersbe

“From the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 1:11

The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high view of God, wrote A.W. Tozer in his excellent book The Knowledge of the Holy. For “church” you may substitute “Christian” or “Sunday school teacher” or “missionary.” The prophet Malachi ministered to the Jewish exiles who had returned to their land from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Unfortunately, the level of their spiritual life was not very high. They could have glorified the name of the Lord before the Gentiles, but instead they chose to argue with the Lord. Believers today have three responsibilities when it comes to the names of God.

(1) We must know God’s name. In Bible times, names were indications of character and ability, and the names of God tell us who he is and what he can do. Jehovah means “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:13-14). He is the self-existent, eternal God who always was, always is, and always will be. Jehovah-Sabaoth is “the LORD of hosts, the LORD of the armies of heaven” (1 Samuel 1:3,11), while Jehovah-Rapha is “the LORD who heals” (Exodus 15:22-27). For the battles in life, we must know Jehovah-Nissi, “the LORD our banner” (Exodus 17:8-15), who can give us victory. Jehovah-Shalom is “the LORD our peace” (Judges 6:24), and Jehovah Ra-ah is “the LORD our shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). I could go on, but I suggest you pursue this study yourself with the help of a good study Bible. To know God’s names is to know him better and be able to call on him for the help we need. “Those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, LORD have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10).

(2) We must honor God’s name. The priests in the temple were not honoring God’s name but were despising it by performing their ministries carelessly and offering the Lord sacrifices unacceptable to him (Malachi 1:6-10). Malachi used the word “contemptible” to describe their work (1:7,12; 2:9). God demands that we give him our best and serve him in a way that honors his name (1 Chronicles 21:24). The Lord would rather that someone close the temple doors than allow such cheap sacrifices to be offered on his altar (Mal. 1:10; Lev. 22:20). The priests were not rejoicing in their ministry but were weary of the whole thing (Mal. 1:13). “Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing” (Ps. 100:2). We must give glory to his name (Mal. 2:2) and fear his name (1:14; 4:2). There was a godly remnant that did fear the Lord and honor his name (3:16-19), and they were the hope of the nation.

(3) We must spread his name abroad. The Lord wanted his name to be “magnified beyond the border of Israel” (1:5). The prophet saw a day when Jews and Gentiles would be one people of faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:11-22). When he died on the cross, Jesus tore the veil of the temple, opening the way to God for all people and breaking down the wall that separated Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14) so that we are “all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). The name of Jesus Christ and his gospel must be shared with the world, for there are no borders that must confine us. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Are we doing our part?

*SOURCE: Adapted from Warren Wiersbe. Old Testament Words For Today. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013, Chapter 95.

 

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As Christians We Should Be Fresh and Flourishing

A DEVOTIONAL BASED ON PSALM 92:7-15

PPP Wiersbe

By Warren W. Wiersbe

Someone has said that there are three stages in life: childhood, adolescence, and “My, you’re looking good.” We can’t stop aging. But no matter how old we grow, we ought to continue growing in the Lord. “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the hous of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing” (vv. 12-14). I am greatly encouraged by those words, because as I get older, I want my life to count more and more for Jesus.

God tells us to be like palm trees. That means we should be planted–“planted in the house of the Lord.” We must abide in Christ, whose roots are spiritual. What a tragedy it is to get older and move into the world and into sin, abandoning what you were taught from the Word of God.

We should also be productive. “They shall be fresh and floursihing” — fruitful trees to the glory of God. Palm trees stand a lot of abuse, storms, and wind. The wind that breaks other trees bends the palm tree, but then it comes back up. Palm trees have roots that go down deep to draw up the water in the desert area. They can survive when other trees are dying. And palm trees just keep on prodicing fruit. The fruit doesn’t diminish; it gets better and sweeter.

Finally, we should be flourishing “in the courts of our God.” When some people get old, they get grouchy, mean, and critical. Let’s not be like that. Allow the Lord to make you fresh and flourishing. Have roots that go deep. You can stand the storms and still be fruitful, feeding others from the blessing of the Lord.

God wants you to grow strong, productive trees that bear much fruit. He wants your roots to grow deep to draw nourishment from His hidden resources. Are you planted and feeding on the Word of God daily? Are you producing fruit and bringing glory to Him? Are you flourishing and feeding others?

*SOURCE: Warren W. Wiersbe. Prayer, Praise & Promises: A Daily Walk Through the Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011.

 

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UNDER THE SHELTER OF GOD’S WINGS

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR DIFFICULT DAYS

TBAWYCO Wiersbe

By Warren W. Wiersbe

In 1892, after a year of intensive work in Great Britain, D. L. Moody sailed for home, eager to get back to his family and his work. The ship left Southampton amid many farewells. About three days out into the ocean, the ship ground to a halt with a broken shaft; and before long, it began to take water. Needless to say, the crew and passengers were desperate, because nobody was sure whether the vessel would sink or not, and nobody knew of any rescue ships in the area. After two days of anxiety, Moody asked for permission to hold a meeting, and to his surprise, nearly every passenger attended. He opened his Bible to Psalm 91 and, holding to a pillar to steady himself, he read: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Moody wrote later, “It was the darkest hour of my life … relief came in prayer. God heard my cry, and enabled me to say, from the depth of my soul, `Thy will be done.’ I went to bed and fell asleep almost immediately….” Well, God answered prayer and saved the ship and sent another vessel to tow it to port. Psalm 91 became a vibrant new Scripture to D. L. Moody, and he discovered, as you and I must also discover, that the safest place in the world is in the shadow of the Almighty, “under His wings.” “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty… He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” So promises the Lord in Psalm 91:1, 4. What does God mean by “under His wings”? Of course, we know that this is symbolical language, because God does not have wings. Some think that this has reference to the way the mother hen shelters and protects her brood. You will remember that Jesus used a similar comparison when He said, “How oft would I have gathered you, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not.”

My own conviction is that Psalm 91 is talking about another kind of wings. Where is that secret place of the Most High? To every Old Testament Jew, there was only one secret place-the holy of holies in the tabernacle. You will recall that the tabernacle was divided into three parts: an outer court where the sacrifices were offered; a holy place where the priests burned the incense; and then the holy of holies where the ark of the covenant was kept. And you will remember that over the ark of the covenant, on the mercy seat, were two cherubim, and their wings overshadowed the ark. This, I believe, is what the psalmist was referring to: the “secret place” is the holy of holies, and “the shadow of the Almighty” is under the wings of the cherubim at the mercy seat.

In Old Testament days, no one was permitted to enter that holy of holies, except the high priest; and he could do it only once a year. If anyone tried to force his way in, he was killed. But today, all of God’s children, saved by faith in Jesus Christ, can enter the holy of holies, because Jesus Christ has opened the way for us. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two and the way was opened into the very presence of God. You and I are privileged to dwell in the holy of holies-to live under the shadow of His wings. We don’t simply make occasional visits into God’s presence; we live there because of Jesus Christ!

Would you believe it if I told you that the safest place in the world is under a shadow? It is–provided that the shadow is the shadow of the Almighty! I would rather be overshadowed by Almighty God than protected by the mightiest army in the world.

As you read Psalm 91, you discover that God makes some marvelous promises to those who will live under His wings, in the holy of holies. For one thing, He promises divine protection. This doesn’t mean that we Christians never experience accidents or sickness, because you and I know that we do. God does not promise to protect us from trials, but to protect us in trials. The dangers of life may hurt us but they can never harm us. We can claim His promise that these things are working for us and not against us.

Listen to one of these promises: “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Ps. 9:11-12). A modern scientific world laughs at the idea of angels, but not the child of God. Jesus taught that the angels of God watch over God’s children. The angels don’t run ahead of us and pick up the stones, because sometimes we need these stones in the path to teach us to depend more on the Lord. What the angels do is help us use the stones for stepping-stones, not stumbling blocks. I firmly believe that when we get to heaven, we will discover how many times God’s angels have watched over us and saved our lives. This is not an encouragement to be careless or to tempt God, but it is an encouragement to worry less.

Believers are immortal in the will of God, until their work is done. Out of the will of God there is danger, but in the will of God there is a divine protection that gives us peace in our hearts, no matter how trying life may be. “Under His wings,” abiding in Christ-this is where we are safest during the storms of life. We do not, however, run into the holy of holies to hide from life. I’m afraid too many people misinterpret the Scriptures and the hymns that talk about hiding in God and finding Him a refuge in the storm. We go in for strength and help, and then go back to life to do His will. God’s divine protection is not simply a luxury we enjoy; it is a necessity that we want to share with others. God’s protection is preparation for God’s service. We go in that we might go out. We worship that we might work; we rest that we might serve.

Are you living in the shadow of the Lord, under His wings? Have you trusted Christ as your Savior? Do you spend time daily in worship and prayer? I trust that you do, because the safest life and most satisfying life is under His wings.

The person who lives under His wings not only enjoys the safest life possible, but also the most satisfying life possible. Psalm 91 closes with this promise. “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” This doesn’t mean all Christians will live to be a hundred; the facts prove otherwise. Some of the choicest Christians died before age thirty. A long life refers to quality, not just quantity: it means a full and satisfying life. You can live for eighty years and only exist if you leave Christ out. On the other hand, if you yield to Christ, you can pour into forty years or four lifetimes of service and enjoyment. There is a heart satisfaction that comes only to those who live under His wings, in the the place of surrender and fellowship.

The place of satisfaction is the secret place of the Most High. When you yield to Jesus Christ and link your life with Him, then you find the kind of satisfaction that is worth living for and worth dying for–not the shallow masquerades of this world, but the deep abiding peace and joy that can come only from Jesus Christ.

Turn your back on sin and the cheap trinkets that this world offers, and let me invite you to enter the secret place of the Most High. Surrender to Christ; trust Him as your Savior; answer His gracious invitation. When you do this, you will enter into a new kind of life–a life under the shadow of God–a life in the secret place of safety and satisfaction.

*Source: Warren W. Wiersbe. The Bumps Are What You Climb On. “Under His Wings” – Chapter 10. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006.

 

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Friday Humor: Pastor on Salary by FAITH

GIIAH Wiersbe image

Series: Friday Humor # 24

I heard about a pastor who candidated at a church and was called, provided that he lived by faith. He asked the six men on the committee what they meant by living by faith. What it meant was that he would have no stated salary but that he would simply trust God for his needs. The candidate made a suggestion that cost him the church: “Each of you men has a salary, so why don’t we put all of our salaries together, divide the total by seven and all of us can live by faith.” (God Isn’t In a Hurry, by Warren Wiersbe, p. 23)

 

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Do All Three Members of The Trinity Sing?

Warren Wiersbe points out that all three members of the Godhead sing:

Musical notes

• God the Father sings, according to Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

• God the Son sings, for we read in Matthew 26:30 that after he and his disciples had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives.

• But how does the Holy Spirit sing? He sings through His church! Ephesians 5:18ff: “Be filled with the spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody…”

 

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Warren Wiersbe on Marks of a Mature Leader of God

OBALFG Wiersbe

5 Marks of Maturity in Christian Leaders

This is a good place to think about maturity, because one of the goals of Christian leadership is to help others reach their full potential for service. We want to be at our best and we want those working with us to be at their best so that we can do our best work together and, if it’s God’s will, go on to greater challenges. This doesn’t mean that we “break” other people and “re-make” them in our own image, because we aren’t God, and our image—even our best image—doesn’t fit everybody. Instead, it means helping people to grow up and do their very best so they can move ahead in service. Maturing people know themselves, accept themselves, and are themselves in every situation. They don’t “play roles.” They are realistic about themselves and have no illusions about who they are or what they can do. They aren’t fooling themselves or trying to fool others, because maturity and humility go together.

David wrote about this in Psalm 139. No matter how inept we may be in some things, each of us is still “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and we should all praise God for what we are and what we can do (Ps. 139:14). When God made us, He made no mistakes. When I was in grade school, it didn’t take me long to discover that I was not an athlete. (My two older brothers were accomplished athletes.) When you are the last one chosen for every team, and the team that ends up with you tries to give you to another team, you eventually get the message. I could run fast, so soccer was the only game I excelled in; but soccer wasn’t an official school sport in those days. In Indiana, where I grew up, basketball and football reigned supreme. So what did I do? For protection, I managed to have either a star football player or star basketball player as a locker partner, and I managed to bungle my way on the field or in the gym, staying out of trouble. My teammates approved; after all, they did want to win the game. But when it came to academics, writing for the school paper, making speeches for the student government, and even serving as a substitute when a teacher was absent, I was in my element. In those days schools awarded letters only for athletics, not academics, but I didn’t mind. The entire experience helped me find myself and discover the work God wanted me to do.

What are some of the marks of people who are maturing?

To begin with, because they know themselves and accept themselves, they learn to accept others and cultivate a team approach to getting things done. It makes no difference who scores the points so long as the team wins. The key word is “cooperation” and not “competition.” I think it was the British naval hero Lord Nelson who came on deck and found two of his officers engaged in a violent argument. He watched them a few moments and then stepped between them. Pointing to the ocean, he said, “Gentlemen, there is but one enemy, and he is out there!” Whether it’s a coach giving a halftime pep talk or the president of a company explaining a new policy, the goal is the same: different people with different personalities working together to achieve the same purposes with the least possible amount of friction.

Maturing people speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). It has well been said that truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy. Brutality and hypocrisy are both sins, and sin destroys. Truth and love are tools to build with, and they are partners that work together. It would benefit us to read 1 Corinthians 13 frequently and ask ourselves, “Is this my portrait?” Love is named first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23) because love helps us produce and share the rest of the fruit that Paul names. Jesus called love a “new command” and said it is the major mark of each of His disciples (John 13:34–35).

Mature people know how to take responsibility willingly. When problems arise, they admit mistakes and ask questions instead of inventing excuses. They can be trusted to do their work well whether or not anybody is watching. I was once on a staff with a man whose evasive nonwork habits were obvious to everyone but himself. When asked to report on an assignment, he would invariably reply, “Oh, that’s in my briefcase!” When asked where his briefcase was, he would say, “It’s in the trunk of my car.” Where was his car? His wife had it! He didn’t stay on staff very long.

Mature people know that the way they do their work affects how others do their work. Mature people do more than is required, not to earn points or get special recognition but because they consider themselves “slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from [their] heart” (Eph. 6:6). If they see a fellow worker having trouble, they offer to help. They don’t compete with others; they compete with themselves and always strive to do their work better. Mature people have a healthy outlook on life and are dependable whether the Lord sends defeats or victories. If others have a gift of complaining, mature workers don’t preach at them but rather try to have a positive attitude that may help to transform pessimism into optimism. Like Paul and Silas in prison, mature workers can sing and pray—and bring down the house (Acts 16)!

As I’ve watched the men and women who have modeled leadership to me, I’ve observed that they not only have faith in God but also demonstrate faith in their co-workers. All of us on the team must believe in each other, or teamwork will be impossible. We must pray for one another and trust God to work in us, among us, and through us. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon,” Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that Apollos was “quite unwilling” to visit them at that time but would come when he had opportunity (1 Cor. 16:12). This shows that Paul didn’t “play God” in the lives of his associates, moving them around against their wills. Paul had his plans, but so did the Lord—and Paul was flexible.

When a new member joins the team, we soon calculate their “maturity quotient,” and we might have to switch to Plan B to help them start growing. How do they respond to criticism and to praise? Are they patient with delays? Do they know which port they are headed for? Can they patiently listen without interrupting? Even seasoned servants occasionally become childish and require private therapy. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Prov. 27:6). When I reflect on my own years of service, I give thanks for the men and women who patiently helped me mature and become a better team player. I’m still learning.

Adapted from Warren W. Wiersbe. On Being a Leader for God (Kindle Locations 395-406). Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, 2011.

About Warren W. Wiersbe

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Warren W. Wiersbe is the Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, and is the author of more than 100 books. Billy Graham calls him “one of the greatest Bible expositors of our generation.” Interestingly, Warren’s earliest works had nothing to do with scriptural interpretation. His interest was in magic, and his first published title was Action with Cards (1944).

“It was sort of imbecilic for a fifteen-year-old amateur magician to have the audacity to write a book and send it to one of the nation’s leading magic houses,” Warren says. But having a total of three books published by the L.L. Ireland Magic Company—before the age of 20—gave him a surge of confidence. In later years, he applied his confidence and writing talent to the Youth for Christ (YFC) ministry.

Warren wrote many articles and guidebooks for YFC over a three-year period, but not all his manuscripts were seen by the public eye. One effort in particular, The Life I Now Live, based on Galatians 2:20, was never published. The reason, Warren explains with his characteristic humor, is simple: it was “a terrible book…Whenever I want to aggravate my wife, all I have to say is, ‘I think I’ll get out that Galatians 2:20 manuscript and work on it.’” Fortunately, Warren’s good manuscripts far outnumbered the “terrible” ones, and he was eventually hired by Moody Press to write three books.

The much-sought-after author then moved on to writing books for Calvary Baptist Church. It was during his ten years at Calvary that Expository Outlines on the New Testament and Expository Outlines on the Old Testament took shape. These two works later became the foundation of Warren’s widely popular Bible studies known as the Be series, featuring such titles as Be Loyal (a study on Matthew) and Be Delivered (a study on Exodus). Several of these books have been translated into Spanish.

His next avenue of ministry was Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church, where he served for seven years. He wrote nearly 20 books at Moody before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he and his wife, Betty, now live. Prior to relocating, he had been the senior pastor of Moody Church, a teacher at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a producer of the Back to the Bible radio program.

During all these years of ministry, Warren held many more posts and took part in other projects too numerous to mention. His accomplishments are extensive, and his catalog of biblical works is indeed impressive and far-reaching (many of his books have been translated into other languages). But Warren has no intention of slowing down any time soon, as he readily explains: “I don’t like it when people ask me how I’m enjoying my ‘retirement,’ because I’m still a very busy person who is not yet living on Social Security or a pension. Since my leaving Back to the Bible, at least a dozen books have been published, and the Lord willing, more are on the way.”

Wiersbe’s recent books include Your Next MiracleThe 20 Essential Qualities of a Child of GodClassic Sermons on the Fruit of the SpiritClassic Sermons on Jesus the ShepherdKey Words of the Christian LifeLonely PeopleA Gallery of GraceReal Peace: Freedom and Conscience in the Christian Life, and On Being a Leader for God.

 

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