Is Christ’s Leadership Real to You?
“Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ.”—MATTHEW 23:10.
1. Who alone is the Leader of true Christians?
IT WAS Tuesday, Nisan 11. Three days later, Jesus Christ would be put to death. This was his last visit to the temple. On this day, Jesus imparted an important teaching to the crowds that had gathered there and to his disciples. He said: “Do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:8-10) Clearly, Jesus Christ is the Leader of true Christians.
2, 3. Listening to Jehovah and accepting the Leader he has appointed have what effect on our lives?
2 What beneficial effects Jesus’ leadership has on our lives when we accept it! Foretelling the coming of this Leader, Jehovah God declared through the prophet Isaiah: “Hey there, all you thirsty ones! Come to the water. And the ones that have no money! Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk even without money and without price. . . . Listen intently to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul find its exquisite delight in fatness itself. . . . Look! As a witness to the national groups I have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.”—Isaiah 55:1-4.
3 Isaiah used common liquids—water, milk, and wine—as metaphors to show how our personal life is affected when we listen to Jehovah and follow the Leader and Commander he has given us. The result is refreshing. It is like drinking a cold glass of water on a hot day. Our thirst for truth and righteousness is quenched. As milk strengthens babies and helps them to grow, ‘the milk of the word’ fortifies us and promotes spiritual growth in our relationship with God. (1 Peter 2:1-3) And who can deny that wine contributes to joy on festive occasions? In a comparable way, worshiping the true God and following in the footsteps of his appointed Leader makes life “nothing but joyful.” (Deuteronomy 16:15) It is vital, then, that all of us—young and old, male and female—show that Christ’s leadership is real to us. How, though, may we demonstrate in our daily life that the Messiah is our Leader?
Youths—Go On “Progressing in Wisdom”
4. (a) What took place when 12-year-old Jesus visited Jerusalem at the time of the Passover? (b) How well-informed was Jesus at only 12 years of age?
4 Consider the example that our Leader set for young ones. Although little is known of Jesus’ childhood, one incident is quite revealing. When Jesus was 12 years old, his parents took him on their annual visit to Jerusalem for the Passover. On this occasion he became engrossed in a Scriptural discussion, and his family inadvertently left without him. Three days later his worried parents, Joseph and Mary, found him in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them.” Moreover, “all those listening to him were in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers.” Imagine, at only 12 years of age, Jesus could not only ask thought-provoking, spiritually oriented questions but also give intelligent answers! Doubtless, he had been aided by parental training.—Luke 2:41-50.
5. How may young ones evaluate their attitude toward family Bible study?
5 Perhaps you are a young person. If your parents are devoted servants of God, likely there is a regular program of family Bible study in your home. What is your attitude toward the family study? Why not reflect upon such questions as: ‘Am I wholeheartedly supporting the arrangement for Bible study in my family? Do I cooperate with it, not doing anything to upset the routine?’ (Philippians 3:16) ‘Am I an active participant in the study? When appropriate, do I ask questions regarding the study material and comment on its application? As I progress spiritually, am I cultivating a taste for “solid food [that] belongs to mature people”?’—Hebrews 5:13, 14.
6, 7. How valuable can a program of daily Bible reading be to youths?
6 A program of daily Bible reading is also valuable. The psalmist sang: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones, . . . but his delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2) Moses’ successor, Joshua, ‘read in the book of the law in an undertone day and night.’ This enabled him to act wisely and have success in carrying out his God-given assignment. (Joshua 1:8) Our Leader, Jesus Christ, said: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’” (Matthew 4:4) If we need physical food every day, how much more so do we need spiritual food on a regular basis!
7 Realizing her spiritual need, 13-year-old Nicole started to read the Bible every day. * Now, at age 16, she has read the entire Bible once and is about halfway through it a second time. Her method is simple. “I make it a point to read at least one chapter a day,” she says. How has her daily Bible reading helped her? She answers: “Bad influences today are plentiful. I daily meet pressures at school and elsewhere that challenge my faith. Reading the Bible every day helps me quickly to recall Bible commands and principles that encourage me to resist these pressures. As a result, I feel closer to Jehovah and Jesus.”
8. What was Jesus’ custom regarding the synagogue, and how can young ones imitate him?
8 Jesus had the custom of listening to and participating in Scripture reading in the synagogue. (Luke 4:16; Acts 15:21) How good it is for young ones to follow that example by regularly attending Christian meetings, where the Bible is read and studied! Expressing appreciation for such meetings, 14-year-old Richard says: “The meetings are valuable to me. I am constantly reminded there of what is good and bad, what is moral and immoral, what is Christlike and what is not. I do not have to find that out the hard way—by experience.” Yes, “the reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.” (Psalm 19:7) Nicole too makes it a point to attend all five congregation meetings every week. She also spends from two to three hours preparing for them.—Ephesians 5:15, 16.
9. How can young ones go on “progressing in wisdom”?
9 Youth is a good time to acquire ‘knowledge of the only true God, and of the one whom he sent forth, Jesus Christ.’ (John 17:3) You may know young people who spend a lot of time reading comic books, watching television, playing video games, or surfing the Internet. Why should you imitate them when you can follow the perfect example of our Leader? As a boy, he took delight in learning about Jehovah. And what was the result? Because of his love for spiritual things, “Jesus went on progressing in wisdom.” (Luke 2:52) So can you.
“Be in Subjection to One Another”
10. What will help family life to be a source of peace and happiness?
10 The home can be a haven of peace and contentment or a battleground of strife and contention. (Proverbs 21:19; 26:21) Our accepting Christ’s leadership contributes to peace and happiness in the family. Jesus’ example, in fact, is the model for family relations. The Scriptures state: “Be in subjection to one another in fear of Christ. Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of this body. . . . Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:21-25) To the congregation in Colossae, the apostle Paul wrote: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.”—Colossians 3:18-20.
11. How can a husband show that Christ’s leadership is real to him?
11 Following this counsel means that the husband takes the lead in the family, his wife loyally supports him, and the children obey their parents. Man’s headship, though, results in happiness only when it is handled properly. A wise husband must learn how to exercise headship by imitating his own Head and Leader, Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 11:3) Even though Jesus later became “head over all things to the congregation,” he came to earth, “not to be ministered to, but to minister.” (Ephesians 1:22; Matthew 20:28) In a similar way, a Christian husband exercises his headship, not for selfish advantage, but to care for the interests of his wife and children—yes, the entire family. (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5) He seeks to imitate the godly qualities of his head, Jesus Christ. Like Jesus, he is mild-tempered and lowly in heart. (Matthew 11:28-30) Such words as “I am sorry” or “you are right” are not difficult for him to say when he is wrong. His fine example makes it easier for a wife to be a “helper,” a “complement,” and a “partner” to such a man, learning from him and working side by side with him.—Genesis 2:20; Malachi 2:14.
12. What will help a wife abide by the headship principle?
12 The wife, for her part, is to be in subjection to her husband. However, if she is affected by the spirit of the world, this may begin to undermine her view of the headship principle, and the idea of being in subjection to a man would not appeal to her. The Scriptures do not suggest that the man should be domineering, but they do require that wives be in subjection to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:24) The Bible also holds the husband or father accountable, and when its counsel is applied, this contributes to peace and order in the family.—Philippians 2:5.
13. What example of subjection has Jesus provided for children?
13 Children are to be obedient to their parents. In this regard, Jesus set an excellent example. Following the temple incident when 12-year-old Jesus was left behind for three days, “he went down with [his parents] and came to Nazareth, and he continued subject to them.” (Luke 2:51) Children’s subjection to their parents contributes to peace and harmony in the family. When everyone in the family submits to Christ’s leadership, the result is a happy family.
14, 15. What will help us succeed when facing a challenging situation at home? Give an example.
14 Even when challenging situations arise in the home, the key to success is imitating Jesus and accepting his guidance. For example, the marriage of 35-year-old Jerry to Lana, the mother of a teenage daughter, brought on a challenge that neither of them had imagined. Jerry explains: “I knew that to be a good head, I needed to apply the same Bible principles that bring success in other families. But I soon discovered that I had to apply them with greater wisdom and discernment.” His stepdaughter viewed him as someone who had come between her and her mother and resented him immensely. Jerry needed discernment to see that this attitude affected what the girl said and did. How did he handle the situation? Jerry answers: “Lana and I agreed that at least for the time being, Lana would take care of the disciplining aspect of parenting while I focused on building a good relationship with my stepdaughter. In time, this approach did bring good results.”
15 When faced with difficult situations at home, we need discernment to find out why family members talk and act the way they do. We also need wisdom to apply godly principles properly. Jesus, for example, clearly discerned why the woman suffering from a flow of blood had touched him, and he dealt with her wisely and compassionately. (Leviticus 15:25-27; Mark 5:30-34) Wisdom and discernment are characteristics of our Leader. (Proverbs 8:12) We are happy if we act the way he would.
‘Keep On Seeking First the Kingdom’
16. What should occupy the central place in our lives, and how did Jesus show this by his example?
16 Jesus left no doubt as to what should occupy the central place in the lives of those who accept his leadership. He said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his [God’s] righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) And by his example, he showed us how to do this. At the end of the 40-day period of fasting, meditating, and praying that followed his baptism, Jesus encountered a temptation. Satan the Devil offered him rulership over “all the kingdoms of the world.” Imagine the life Jesus could have had if he had accepted the Devil’s offer! Christ, however, was focused on doing his Father’s will. He realized, too, that such a life in Satan’s world would be short. He immediately rejected the Devil’s offer, stating: “It is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” Soon thereafter, Jesus “commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (Matthew 4:2, 8-10, 17) For the rest of his earthly life, Christ was a full-time proclaimer of God’s Kingdom.
17. How can we show that Kingdom interests have the first place in our lives?
17 We do well to imitate our Leader and not allow Satan’s world to lure us into making a high-paying job and career our main goal in life. (Mark 1:17-21) How foolish it would be for us to become so entangled in a web of worldly pursuits that Kingdom interests become only secondary! Jesus has entrusted us with the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Yes, we may have a family or other responsibilities to care for, but are we not glad to use evenings and weekends to carry out our Christian responsibility to preach and to teach? And how encouraging it is that during the 2001 service year, some 780,000 were able to serve as full-time ministers, or pioneers!
18. What helps us find joy in the ministry?
18 The Gospel accounts portray Jesus as a man of action as well as a person having tender feelings. Upon seeing the spiritual needs of those around him, he felt pity for them and eagerly offered them help. (Mark 6:31-34) Our ministry becomes joyful when we share in it out of love for others and a sincere desire to help them. But how may we acquire such a desire? “When I was in my teens,” says a young man named Jayson, “I did not particularly enjoy the ministry.” What helped him cultivate love for this work? Jayson answers: “In my family, Saturday mornings were always devoted to field service. This was good for me because the more I went out in the ministry, the more I saw the good it accomplishes and the more I enjoyed it.” We too should regularly and diligently share in the ministry.
19. What should be our determination with regard to Christ’s leadership?
19 It is indeed refreshing and rewarding to accept Christ’s leadership. When we do, youth becomes a time for progressing in knowledge and wisdom. Family life proves to be a source of peace and happiness, and the ministry is an activity that brings joy and satisfaction. By all means, then, let us be determined to show in our daily life and in the decisions we make that the leadership of the Christ is real to us. (Colossians 3:23, 24) Jesus Christ, though, has provided leadership through yet another avenue—the Christian congregation. The next article will discuss how we can benefit from this provision.
^ par. 7 Some names have been changed.
Do You Remember?
• How does following our God-appointed Leader benefit us?
• How can youths show that they want to follow Jesus’ leadership?
• What effect does Christ’s leadership have on the family life of those who submit to it?
• How can our ministry show that Christ’s leadership is real to us?
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Youth is a good time to gain knowledge of God and of our appointed Leader
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Submission to Christ’s leadership promotes family happiness
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Jesus sought first the Kingdom. Do you?