A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
For many years, I read the Bible on my own, and listened to many sermons, and sought the Lord on my own. I continually found myself frustrated because I never really had confidence in the truth or understanding that I was hearing and learning. And what I believed often changed. Generally what I read in the Bible and what I heard preached agreed (the church is good, evangelism is good, Bible study is good, lusting is bad, loving money is bad - for example), but I was really confused with many things and how they all fit together - such as; what is the emphasis I should have? How do I practically live all these things out? And am I on the right track?
For example, I know that sin is bad. But how much should I focus on fighting sin? Will I automatically just become more Christ-like over time? Is it just something Jesus has forgiven me for so I don’t have to think about it or worry about it and can focus on other things - like saving the lost from Hell? What about social outreach? Outreach and helping the poor is a great thing – the Bible talks about it, but what place does that take in my life? Should I devote myself to helping poor people, and spend 75% of my time, money, and thoughts on it, or is it secondary to something else?
The confusion would repeatedly cause me to question myself and change my focus, and lose motivation. I would struggle with sins and feel guilty all over again, wondering where I’m going wrong despite the fact that I was trying to seek the truth and trying to live a godly life. I was so frustrated, and I felt like I had to figure things all out on my own by studying the Bible more. With regard to how to follow what I read in the Bible in practice, after a while it felt like I was just ‘guessing’ and was never really sure if what I was doing and focusing on was right, or if it was just what at the moment what I felt the Bible said (only to discover something else later). There was one period where I felt that the sins God wanted me to concentrate on were all of the external rules I was
breaking like disobeying traffic signals or walking outside of the crosswalks. It was very burdensome!
These were the questions and persistent struggles that stayed with me for years. When I thought I had an answer, I would hear some word or see some verse, and I would be convinced of something else, and lose my excitement for the ‘life changing truth’ I believed I had previously discovered.
At the time I didn’t realize that I was missing something absolutely crucial in my life: godly leadership.
My life turned around from all of that frustration and defeated life only once the Lord provided me godly leadership, who has shown proven fruit in the lives (the godly life I was seeking all along which I saw in them), and a good local church in my life where the people God spoke of in Ephesians 4:11-12 are there to help build me up. The frustration I had before is totally gone.
There’s a confidence I have now when I read the Bible, and follow their teaching, because I can clearly see the teaching which they give has helped me grow in the same way. My own life has bore witness to the fact that the teaching they give actually works! And so, seeing their progress in the Lord builds my faith and makes me excited that I can have the same outcome:
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” - Hebrews 13:7
Because of this change in my life, I felt led to write 3 articles on what God has taught me and done for me through the Biblical leadership I’ve found in a godly local church.
These are 3 key lessons that I have learned and written about:
1. If I want to grow spiritually in the Lord, having Biblical leadership is absolutely critical (Part 1 – Biblical leadership is crucial for my spiritual growth)
2. If I want to grow spiritually In the Lord, I have to carefully choose the right leaders – they must be Christ-like themselves (Part 2 – seek for godly leadership, not gifted leadership)
3. If I want to grow spiritually in the Lord, I have to actually submit to and imitate/follow the godly leaders the Lord has led me to (Part 3 – Obeying and submitting to your leaders)