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 (Manna 20)
A Note to Church Leaders
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Youths are future pillars of the church. They will have to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century and to shoulder the task of preaching the Gospel to an increasingly decadent and immoral world. Charged with such a heavy duty, these future soldiers of Christ have to be equipped with the full armour of God before they can step out onto the battle-field. The church has the responsibility of providing the necessary training to ensure that they will be victorious in their mission.

However let us look at those who are to train up the younger generation. They must set a good example for others to follow. A good shepherd must walk in the steps of the ultimate role model - the Lord Jesus Himself.

Even as a child, the Lord Jesus demonstrated His zeal and love for I us Father’s house. When quizzed by Mary over His disappearance during a trip to Jerusalem, I us reply was, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). There are many of us who also showed this fervour in the beginning. We might have eagerly gathered to worship God and to serve Him. However, as time passed, we have forgotten the real purpose behind working for God. Our service may be done grudgingly out of obligation to those around us.

There is also the danger that we may spend increasingly more time attending to our own affairs. It is all too easy to begin drifting towards the world and to invest more time and energy in the name of earning a decent living. It is ironical that a person can spend his whole life pursuing the optimal standard and never find it. He is a wise person who can see through the vanity of life and devote himself instead to what is really worthwhile - living for Christ. This does not mean abandoning our jobs and careers. It simply means doing our part to provide for the needs of ourselves and our family but leaving sufficient time and energy to serve God. God will remember our efforts. Through Jesus, He has promised that those who seek after I us Kingdom and righteousness will have lack of nothing (Mt 6:33). What God wants from His people is for them to centre their lives on Film. If we, as the shepherds in the household of God, do not strive to live up to this standard, we would lose all credibility when we attempt to instruct our young charges on how to live a godly life.

The members who make up the household of God come from a great diversity of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Everyone is truly an individual. Our personalities are shaped to a large extent by our own experiences, environment and upbringing. Yet we all share the most important matter in our lives - our faith in God. One could argue that it is almost inevitable that differences of opinion will arise in this community of faith. These differ­ences could actually be quite constructive where everyone contributes his ideas for the benefit of the church ministry. However problems may arise when individuals are unwilling to accept others’ opinions and suggestions, believing their own to be better. Herein lies the cause of strife and disharmony in a Christian community.

The workers of God have to learn to accept and respect each other so that everyone can work in unity. We all need to value other people’s opinions, and to give way when necessary. In so doing, we will show our young charges the real meaning of unity and harmony in the household of God. Elder Peter had earlier referred to this basic Christian principle as the mutual respect and submission between the young and the old (1 Pet 5:2-4).

How we treat the younger members in the church is important as our attitudes and actions will leave a deep impression on them. We should avoid imposing our ideas, methods and values on them when these have no bearing on the truth. We do not dominate, but guide them with love, encouraging them to grow and to develop their own talents and abilities with which to serve God. When they make mistakes, we correct them with gentleness. To achieve such a good working relationship there must be free communication and rapport. We have to be genuinely interested in our young charges, ever ready to listen to them, to appreciate and value their opinions and concerns. In this way we can facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences.

During His ministry, Jesus was anxious to correct the disciples’ mis­conception concerning the role of a teacher. Jesus taught them that lie, their teacher, had come to the world not to be served but to serve (Mt 20:26-28). He communicated this point very clearly when He washed their feet (Jn 13). In the same way, the Lord Jesus has shown us, as overseers of the church, that we should utilise our gifts in the service of others as opposed to expecting others to meet our needs.

It is essential that we pass on the ethos of service to the younger members. They need to learn that within the church there is no hierarchy and that all are equal before God. But first, we, the shepherds, have to set an example by serving those around us with meekness and sincerity.

The task of shepherding the next generation is a great responsibility. It can be difficult. However our Heavenly Father is compassionate and knows our strengths and our limitations. He does not demand from us what we cannot achieve. What is important is that we discharge our responsibilities to the best of our abilities. In our every day lives, we should be vigilant to ensure that the matters of God always take precedence over our own affairs. Also, in our training of the future workers we should not dominate them. Rather, we should gently lead and direct them with love and patience. More importantly, we should set a good example for our young charges to emulate. Then when our work is completed, we will have left behind a good foundation for the next generation.

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