Obedience Means Teaching the Word of God
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Obedience Means Teaching the Word of God

Obedience Means Teaching the Word of God

By Alan van der Woerd

Alan and Eileen van der Woerd recently spent time in Nicaragua assisting Rommel and Ana Julia Raudales in their prison ministry and outreach to people suffering from addictions. Alan and Eileen live in Prince George, BC, and are asking the Lord where they should serve in Central America.

“For the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and do it, and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

The situation of Ezra is familiar to many of us missionaries. He was sent to a place, from Babylon to Jerusalem, to a place in cultural ruins. He met people from everywhere who live differently! Some questions likely familiar to Ezra: What does it mean to identify as the people of God? What are the moral and religious guidelines that one should follow? In training pastors as leaders, we would do well to look at Ezra because his strategy offers a Biblical time-tested guide for building Godly leaders.

First, Ezra set his heart to study the Law of the Lord. What is our heart orientation like? Are we easily distracted, and do we find it difficult to focus on the word of God? Notice that for Ezra, studying the word of God is not merely an intellectual activity but also a heart activity. How can I know what God’s will is, what projects to apply energy to, and what my priorities are? These are matters of our hearts. Christian leaders prioritize studying the Bible; pray and believe in God’s direction for Christian leaders and the Christian community!

Second, Ezra sets his heart to do it! His intellectual focus is matched with a passion for action. He not only stores up knowledge; he wants to see practical outcomes. He wants “best practices.” This behavior is not because he is “driven” but flows from his spiritual orientation. In other words, he is not impulsive yet simply “walks the talk.” We all know examples of Christian leadership fails, of crash and burn scenarios of Christian leaders. Being and doing have to harmonize. The Christian leader, directed by the Holy Spirit, shows integrity. In this way, mission projects and activities are not chosen at random. They don’t exist to impress others but to offer worthy solutions to existing problems! What we do as Christian leaders, how we do ministry, and where all matters.

Third, Ezra sets his heart to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. Ezra teaches an entirely different way of life, shifting from the polytheism of Babylon and that of surrounding nations to a worship of the true God. Ezra is a teacher, and Christian leaders are all in some way teachers. Ezra has a big picture in mind for the transformation of Israel. Christian leaders, likewise, focus on building Sunday schools in churches, Christian day schools and seminaries, and many nontraditional approaches.

In conclusion, all Christian leaders want to experience God’s hand in their lives and ministries like Ezra did. And we can! Yet, we must tune our hearts first to hear the direction God wishes by God’s word. Next, we take action to implement all that God teaches. Finally, we train others on the biblical and spiritual principles we have learned.