Yesterday’s post was one of my favourites to write and I’ve been looking forward to doing it again all day. Today’s verse on my bible app is a perfect one to study leadership so I’m going to dig into Hebrews 12:2 (will share the verse below).
I should’ve explained this yesterday but “Hebrews 12:2” is where you’re going to find the passage I’m talking about in the bible. “Hebrews” refers to the letter I’m reading. It’s in the New Testament and was written by a guy named Paul to the Hebrews. “12” refers to the chapter just like a novel and “2” is the verse which is usually a sentence or two. Whenever some one cites a passage in the bible it will always follow that template:
Book or letter in the bible Chapter # : Verse #
For those just joining, I’m using the S.O.A.P. method to learn about leadership as per my writing assignment with The Piper Project. Here we go.
S = SCRIPTURE
“… looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
O = OBSERVATION
a)Remember yesterday when I said, I wrote how I didn’t know where to begin with this leadership study? Got an answer. “Look to Jesus.”
b) Founder = CEO. Jesus is in charge.
c) In other translations, ‘pioneer’ or ‘author’ has been used in the place of ‘founder.’
d) Re: Pioneer. This tells me, Jesus is a visionary leader. He’s a trailblazer and gets stuff started before the crowd realizes it’s a good idea. The reason he can do tough things like die on a cross is because he can see the long range plans and the necessity of it. He’s a leader who sacrifices. He’s not a morbid masochist. He didn’t enjoy the pain of being humiliated. He did it because He could see the joy waiting for Him after.
e) Re: Author. He’s a good writer. He will write my story, create the necessary obstacles to build my character and give me the super-objective (Stanislavsky, anyone?) or motivation each character requires to move the plot forward. Unlike me (who has a hard time finishing things), He will finish the story or the work He began.
e) Re: Perfecter. He’s good at what He does. He’s a competent leader. I can trust him to refine me. He knows what He’s doing. Also, this is a job only for him. No one else can perfect me and I can’t perfect anyone else. Only Jesus can do that so I’ll leave that title in his hands.
Here’s some commentary I found on the passage (https://www.gotquestions.org/Hebrews-12-2.html). I like to look up commentary and see if I got what they got. If not, I need to re-visit the passage and see where I got confused and why.
A = APPLICATION
- Don’t dwell on all the bad things. Remember the long range plans and the joy Paul talks about. Hold onto that instead.
- It’s easier to fix my eyes on Jesus when I remember how he is described and what that means to me. Founder. Pioneer. Author. Perfecter.
- Don’t try to change people and don’t get intimidated by the manipulative things people do to change you. Jesus is our Perfecter. He’s the only one who can do the perfecting.
P = PRAYER
Jesus, help me keep my eyes on you and not get distracted by all the bad things. I trust you will write me a good story and I’ll stop telling you how to write it. It will be a good story — better than I ever could’ve imagined. You don’t need my help but I’m happy to participate.
Things to keep in mind if you decide to do a bible study of your own
- The con of approaching each day with the Verse-of-the-Day is it’s harder to get all the historical context and so many of the verses depend on what happened in the statements leading up to it. While a verse is better than no verse — God can use those Verses-of-the-Day to speak to us — we lose the richness of the passage when it’s not connected to the full message. It’s like a going to see a good movie. You don’t go to see a movie for a couple good one-liners. You go to see a full movie from start to finish. If you miss parts, you won’t understand what’s going on and it feels incomplete. The one liners might make a good trailer but they don’t give you the full story. Same thing with the bible.
- If you end up starting a bible study, please consider expounding it. Meaning, pick a gospel or a letter written in the New Testament and take it from the beginning to end. Verse by verse, one after the other. You don’t have to S.O.A.P. every verse but don’t skip them either. The difficult passages are some of the most important parts. If we leave those parts out, we start to create a God of our own making. We have to press into those controversial passages because we are called to love Jesus for who He is. Not who we want Him to be. It’s the difference between infatuation or fantasy and actually being in love. The infatuation/fantasy is how we imagine the person to be but when we are in love with someone and committed to them, we love them for who they are. Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who is more in love with the fantasy of you than the real you? No. Me neither. Why do it to God then?
- The bible will probably make you mad. It should offend us all at some point. But if you can approach those parts with a soft heart rather than a hard one, the lesson will drop faster. Try to investigate why those parts upset you and ask God to help you understand. Sometimes the part we’re having a hard time digesting is because we don’t understand the historical context or what the writer intended. Other times it’s because we’re holding onto sin or disappointment and anger towards God or someone else. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone to God’s word, been convicted of my sin and then sat in prayer and said, “Well, God, I know what I’m doing is wrong but I’m not sorry yet so I need you to change my heart and see things from your perspective.” And He usually does.
- If you end up doing a bible study on your own, that’s cool but you need to compare your findings with other believers and trustworthy sources. Sometimes we misunderstand what the writer is saying and it builds a bad foundation for the rest of our faith. So I’ll do the S.O.A.P. exercise then I’ll check the footnotes in my study bible or research some commentaries online to see if what I got was similar to what these other teachers got. Preachers who are into expositional preaching (same thing as ‘expounding.’ They don’t leave verses out) can help sort out difficult passages. Some of my favourites are Tim Keller, John MacArthur, and Matt Chandler. Tim and Matt are good at explaining the truth in gentle, gracious ways. John kinda comes in like a wrecking ball and some days that’s just what you need.
- Find other Christians to spend time with. Most of my family, friends and coworkers are not Christians. I need Christian community to get my focus back on Jesus. It’s easy to get distracted and discouraged. I find it easy to not press into community because it gets really messy and I’m used to doing things on my own. But I want to grow in my faith and build healthy relationships the way Jesus asks us to so I like to connect with people at church. I’ve met a lot of down-to-earth people who have been through difficult things, too. And some of them have a really great sense of humour so that makes things much more entertaining.
- If all else fails, just start reading the bible. You don’t need to be a scholar to understand everything it says but it will help if you dig deeper.