The goal of Leadership in the Church

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

What does it mean?
I am often disappointed when the instruction given to our young people, especially women, is that the goal of their lives is to live passively and unobstrusively – do not rock the boat; do not dress indecently; do not engage in prostitution; etc. Young men: do not become “Yahoo” boys, do not engage in criminality; etc. To interpret it this way is to restrict our understanding of the goal of the gospel, and our leadership in it, to “training to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.” But we need to move forward to “living self-controlled, upright and godly lives”. And we need to live “in the present age”. Even that, unfortunately, is still not sufficient!
We need to be people whose lives are marked by a deep consciousness of “the blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. This same Jesus that, “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness”. But that is not all. He did all this in order “To purify unto himself, a people for his own possession that are zealous for good works.”
If we do not get anything from this passage, we should at least see immediately that the goal of the gospel, and of leadership in it is NOT something passive. It is active.
The Author, Finisher
The first worker is Jesus Christ: He did the dying, he is actively working on the purification, he is constantly interceding for us; He is pleading our case with the father; And all he wants from us is our cooperation! (I remember taking my younger daughter for her injection in the hospital: She will not cooperate. I had to bind her hands and legs, force a cooperation so she did not get wounded) Lack of cooperation can be deadly! The Apostle Paul, with all his compassing land and sea going without a home, or a family, spreading his whole life to preach the gospel, realized, that the first worker is God himself “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
The first duty of the Christian, and the leader, is to cooperate with the Master Jesus in his effort that, after dying for us, he is trying to “purify, unto himself, a people that are his very own known to all the world for their zeal to achieve God’s good purpose”.
In telling us to be careful of anger, the Apostle James warned us with this same thought: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-21. Human anger does not achieve the righteous purpose of God. So, we must always ask ourselves, not if we are dressed in a way not to attract unnecessary, ungodly attention, or whether we are cheating to live, but “Are we accomplishing the righteous purpose of a God, whose primary work right now is to ‘purify for himself, a people of his own possession, zealous unto good works?’ ”
The Present Age
We are to accomplish God’s holy purpose “In the present Age”. Look at the passage again: “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age”. What is the “Present Age”. We are living in a Nigeria of 2024 where there are essentially only two types of jobs: Begging and Looting! The beggars are those that are unemployed or underpaid and can barely survive from month to month. The looters are those that have devised a method to profit from the mess Nigeria is going through. They may be politicians or Civil servants. They are often not part of the economy and are usually being begged for favours by the rest of the population. We, as Christians, have a high calling to be neither Beggars nor Looters.
What did the Apostle say? “and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:27-29
It is our duty to always find ways to do honest labour. That is precisely what Nigerians, in the present Age, do not want to do.
Churches are filled to the brim because certain people are telling them there is a trick where God will cause to happen, a miracle of favour, where you will get a jackpot by praying very well and having sufficient faith! Of course, not everyone in such gatherings is wrong: the preachers themselves are correct, as they usually receive that miracle of favour and are usually well kept and provided for. Only problem is that the number of unemployed people, widows, orphans, destitute, etc., are not reduced by all the proclaimed faith! It is a lie that such preaching have helped Nigeria. It has not. I started working in 1978 as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Lagos. My salary was about 320 Naira per month. One Naira, at that time was closer to two US dollars. Today, 46 years later, I make slightly more than 500,000 Naira each month. Convert it and see that Nigeria has marched backwards. Non-Christian societies such as China and India have multiplied their per-capita GDP 10 to 50 fold in the same period!
What is more damning, is the fact that the Apostle and the whole scripture do not agree with this “favour” principle! “Let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands” ni Apostle wi o!
Furthermore, the Apostle, in a direct speech to the same Ephesians in Acts he showed that he did not only preach this idea of hardwork with your hands, but that was how he lived openly among them: “34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:34-35. And the Apostle was telling them the words of our Lord Jesus Christ! These are not the words of Fakinlede! Words of Jesus Christ! “Labour, work with your own hands”!
My third point is related, it is the immorality of Slothfulness. This point, if not understood correctly, may appear controversial. Or it may look like an unnecessary emphasis. But it is deep. It is so deep that we will not have time to deal with it, sufficiently, is a three-hour sermon. It flows from Point 2. The word “moral” is usually interpreted in most Churches as “sexual morality”. That interpretation, in comparison to the entire history and faith of the Church of our Lord Jesus, is entirely in error. Seven immoralities, to avoid, are taught in the Bible. You may be surprised to know that, lust, the one pertaining to sex, that the church fantasizes every day about is NOT even the worst of the immoralities. This erroneous approach makes people interpret every note on morality as sexual morality. Important, as that is, the confusion caused is immeasurable. I will refer any interested person to go to my personal webpage and read a series of sermons preached by a great Christian lady – nearly 80 years ago, where she painstakingly listed and elaborated on each morality.
My beef today in on just one of these. It is called slothfulness. A slothful person is immoral! You do not have to sleep with another man’s wife to be immoral! Are you covetous? OK, let me list them all: pride, avarice (greed), envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.
Point three is that we should avoid slothfulness. It is a deadly sin; it is an immorality. It is as serious as the sin of lust or the favorite sexual immorality that keeps us talking all day! And the church is often guilty of slothfulness!