The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:15, “Though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”
Over the last few years, I feel as if I have read countless articles detailing ministers and members of churches that have fallen from their position. Sometimes I’ve thought to myself, “Is there even a point in trying to finish well? If they couldn’t do it, how selfish am I that I believe that I can finish well?” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: Every day, there are more Christians that have finished the race well and will die in obscurity, that have dedicated their lives to the Gospel and making it known, and this idea should greatly encourage us as believers.
When we look at what Paul wrote, I can't help but be encouraged and remember the spiritual fathers that God has given to me since my eyes were opened to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit took up residence in my heart. All the way from Sunday School teachers and the ministers at First Baptist Church Greenwood, AR, to my current church at Liberty Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri. God has been gracious to give me people that I can look to and use as an example so that I can be more like Christ and find sin where it hides and kill it. These are the leaders that I look to for encouragement. Men who love their families well and point them to Christ and who passionately pursue their wife and try to love them as Christ loved the church.
Who has God placed in your life so that you can be encouraged by their example? Here are some helpful questions if you do not know where to begin:
1. Are you plugged into a local church enough to get to know fellow members?
How can you find men and women that can encourage you if you are not involved in your local church? One of the best resources that Liberty Baptist Church offers to aid members in this is through Community Groups. People from all demographics join together to offer encouragement and insight from a perspective that is unlike yours. This is one of the most encouraging and fruitful ways to know people. Other ways would be through Sunday School classes, Wednesday night classes, or other ministries, but the main point is this: be involved in your church in another way than exclusively during the worship service on Sunday morning.
2. Who has been in your position that can encourage you through their example?
This is almost always an older member of the congregation. Who has been in similar situations and pushed through? Who has woken up in the morning to find that a family member has passed away in the middle of the night and had to rely wholly on Christ to even find the strength to wake up in the morning? Who has been almost to the point of divorce, but the Holy Spirit moved in their life and helped to save their marriage? Who has struggled with a rebellious child and they had done all that they could do and were at the end of the rope and they had to pray for the Holy Spirit to carry them through and continue to love their children? Find them. Meet with them. Ask questions. Ask for help. It is alright to ask for help, we all need it from time to time.
3. Who can you help?
Who is going through a similar experience that you have gone through and can offer insight on how to persevere? Be the person that somebody can look to for encouragement and advice through hard times in their life. Be open to hard conversations about your past. Be open to meet with people that you do not yet know very well. Sometimes you have to initiate the conversation in order to find someone that needs your help and encouragement.
May we use the local church that God has blessed us with to be encouraged and help us persevere so that we may finish well, and thank God that he has given us examples in the local church on how to do just that.