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A Faith Worth Emulating for the Leader

by The Howitzer

When I was growing up, Jack Nicklaus was the man.  The Golden Bear as they called him was the talk of the golf world.  I was barely starting to play golf, but I knew who he was.  I picked up an illustrated book of golf tips that he had put out and devoured the details.  Loved the illustrations, loved the explanations.  Now some 40 years later, I am an on again off again golfer who peaked at a bogie golfer, but Nicklaus was my golf hero.  He had a game worth emulating, on and off the golf course (as far as I know anyway).

One of my favorite tips he had was the “the right hip rule”.  Nicklaus said that if you would focus on the movement of your right hip it would keep all your lower body in proper alignment.  He even indicated that the right hip was key to keeping the upper body swing in the right place.  He had a bunch of tips to go with that, but I loved that one the most, because it was so singular in focus. Here is the rule:

Sliding the hips laterally toward the target, rather than rotating the hips, is a key cause of many shots that are pushed to the right, according to Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus says proper downswing hip movement is set up by a full hip rotation on the backswing. On the downswing, he advises right-handed golfers to focus on “turning the right hip toward the ball.”

Lately, I have been in conversation regularly about leadership.  Leadership in the marriage, leadership as a parent, leadership in discipleship and in our work and community.  I find myself longing for a simple right hip type rule for spiritual leadership and I think I may have found one.

The key to spiritual leadership is having a faith worth emulating.

People who you will influence spiritually (in a positive way) will be drawn to your faith.  There is a slow growth toward allowing someone else’s faith to impact our own and there is a common sense look at the stages.

Stage 1- Identification– First we realize that this person is a believer, and the observation begins.  And to be honest we are hawkish when it comes to observing other’s faith particularly if we are desiring to improve our own.  People are watching whether you like it or not.

Stage 2- Impressed– As we watch the faith of another, we are either impressed or not impressed.  Some people’s practice makes us depressed, and we quickly draw away from that person (at least from a sense of being affected by their faith).

Stage 3- Inspired– When we like what we see we are inspired.  We like their style or maybe some part of their practice and we are encouraged.  We want to do better in our own faith.  And we enjoy seeing what we want to do illustrated by someone else.

Stage 4- Influenced– Depending on how inspired we may be, we are drawn to the person and want to know more about how they are thinking or their motivations.  We want to know more.  This is where spiritual influence begins.  Whether it is your wife who God has called you to lead.  Your children God has called you to lead.  People in your work world or community.  Or the people God has called you to disciple.  A faith worth emulating will allow you to influence others in their journey.

Stage 5- Imitate– Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  As we lead others there will be times when they will imitate our faith or our practices.  We should not shy away from this.  Honestly sometimes there really is no reason to recreate the wheel.  But as a warning we need to make sure our faith is worth emulating or imitating.  We want them to recreate the ways in which we are following the Lord not disobeying him.  Unfortunately, they will see both if you allow them in close enough to see for themselves.

Paul encourages the Corinthian church to “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Co 11:1)

I think this is why many of us never get started in our discipleship ministry.  We do not want people close enough to see who we really are.  I find two kinds of people in this area.  Some people I really get to know- I am attracted to.  And other people I really get to know- I am thoroughly unimpressed.  I have always wanted to have an authentic faith that people who are drawn in they would see more good than bad. 

The people who know us best—know us best.  But we do not live for their applause, we live our lives for an audience of one- Jesus Christ.

The church that I attend is Fellowship Bible Church in NWA.  Our church is lead by elders and our founding pastor put together a list of the characteristics of an elder.  I find this list to be compelling and is one of two list I work off to judge my own character.  The other list is the fruit of the Spirit (Eph 5).  Here is a brief list.  Download the whole document here.

The Office of “Elder” Character Qualifications- Fellowship Bible Church NWA

Titus 1:6 “above reproach”

  • The person not only has a good reputation but deserves it. (1 Tim. 3:2)
  • Man of genuine, observable integrity – thoroughly honest. (also, Titus 1:7)
  • Unassailable Christian conduct; blameless; unrebukable; spotless.
  • The sum total of a mature, distinctive Christian’s testimony.

Titus 1:6 “husband of one wife”

  • A one-woman kind of man, married and devoted to but one woman. (1 Tim. 3:2)
  • Creatively meets the needs of his wife in a special way.
  • Known for his love, fidelity and devotion to one wife.
  • Has not been through a broken marriage.

Titus 1:6 “having children who believe, not

  • This means he manages well the affairs of the family in a Christian manner. accused of dissipation or rebellion”
  • The older children (lit. “offspring”) have not rejected Christ and rebelled against the parent’s authority. (1 Tim. 3:4) (“one who manages his own household
  • Describes a temperate family not characterized by riotous and improper well, keeping his children under control living, but by growth unto maturity. with all dignity..”)
  • Does not describe a man who can minister to others but not his own home.

4. Titus 1:7 “not self-willed”

  • Not a self-centered, self-pleasing, arrogant person.
  • This man is flexible, open, fair; he is willing to admit his mistakes and move forward to correct them.
  • Does not dominate and crush others to one’s own way of thinking.

5. Titus 1:7 “not quick-tempered”

  • The person described has his temper under control; does not let anger flare up quickly; does not have a short fuse.
  • This one does not let his anger lead to sin (Eph. 4:16).
  • Does not jump to angry conclusions before the facts are heard

There are several more characteristics and I would highly encourage you to study and use it with the men you disciple…. Click here to download the whole document.

Here is the link to our church’s Elder page description.  Whether not a person actually becomes an elder in your church is not as important as being qualified to be an elder.  It is something to aspire to. If you live like that you will have a faith worth emulating.

As we navigate the areas that God has called us to spiritually lead in:

  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Discipleship

How are you doing in living a faith worth emulating?  What would those you are attempting to influence say about you?

Tim Howington. Follower of Jesus. Husband to Terri. Dad to Josh. Wanna-be writer. Bird Watcher. Novice Fly Fisherman. Discipler of Men. Some people call me the Howitzer.

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