Titus Connection December 2021

Volume 15, Number  12 – DECEMBER, 2021

        A Blessed and Merry Christmas to your family and you.  May your time with your loved ones be a special time for each one of you.  We can never take for granted that we will have another Christmas together, so make this one a very special one.  Enjoy the final discussion on A Shepherd’s Way, with principle number 7.  Timing to end this series could not be better as we look at a shepherd’s heart and celebrate our Good Shepherd’s birth.  Plus, Mary’s husband, Joseph is featured in the youth ministry section seeing as how he gets mentioned more this time of the year than any other.  Be challenged and blessed.  Mike


          As we wrap up how spiritual leaders are similar to shepherds, studying John 10 as our guide, we come to the culmination of shepherd leadership and consider the heart of a shepherd.  Essentially we are weighing the cost of being a shepherding leader. 
        There is a cost involved to be such a quality leader.  It may be your time, commitment, personal energy, and potentially finances.  If I want to be a quality leader that pursues honoring the Lord with my level of commitment, being such a leader is a lifestyle.  It is the way I function and live my life.  It is not an eight a.m. (8 hours) to five p.m. (17 hours) job.  What I do is an extension of who I am, how I am defined. 
         If I am not willing to pay the price to be a quality shepherd to those I am responsible for, those people will pay the price of my low level of commitment.  How I look and treat this group of people will not have their best interest in mind.  I am not saying that you place your people ahead of your relationship with Jesus nor your family but have a love and concern for them that they know they are valuable to you, that their lives matter to you. 
         None of us want to be like the hired hand in John 10.  For the hired person, tending sheep is a job.  Granted if you lead a group of people as a pastor, boss, director of an organization, owner of a business, that is our current job and a job where you earn money to support your family and you.  A hired hand tends sheep for the money.
          In John 10:5,12-13, the sheep run from the hired hand when he/she calls out to the sheep as they do not recognize that voice.  When danger comes, the hired hand will not risk one’s life for the sheep and runs from the danger, caring nothing for the welfare of the sheep.   A hired hand’s characteristics include as mentioned, tending or working with the sheep, the people is solely for financial gain, or for the prestige of being called “pastor”, “director” or another title. 
       This hireling loves to be in charge because he has power over the people or to have the status in the community because of the title.  People have to “respect” you because of your title.  Basically, one’s commitment or allegiance is focused on what you can get out of this job rather than the moral obligation to care and nurture your group of people.
        What makes a leader a quality, God-honoring leader is heart!  How you view your people will determine how you lead them.  Know that you can talk a good game but when the cost becomes too high for you, you will let your people fend for themselves.  Consider this question.  Would you serve your people even if you did not get paid or if you would not be given a title or position with what you are doing?  If you have a real heart for your people, our question would be, “How can I better serve and love you?”. 
        Sheep will not follow a stranger because they do not know the stranger’s (hired hand’s) voice.  They do not know if they can trust this person.  If you desire to serve and love your people, they need to get to know your voice which is your heart.  When they know you care for them and have their best interest in mind, they will follow you.  Let them get to know you by serving them.  Work to be worthy of having others follow you.  Having a title, position or prestige will not accomplish that.
       If you want loyalty and trust from your people, you first must exhibit trust and loyal to them.  Invest in your people – the quality of the return of how people will follow and listen to you is based on your investment in them.  And it starts with the leader!  If I want people to see I am following and living as Jesus wants me to, I need to live it in front of them, to leave that legacy. 
       Pay for your own leadership.  Do not have others cover your cost of leading them.  Build into them, live life with them, treat them with sincere respect and grace and show them Jesus by loving them and helping them become who Jesus wants them to become. This is the heart of a true shepherd, a true godly leader.  Do not allow money, title, power or status be your motivation.  Allow love to be your motivation. 


      As we celebrate Christmas, our focus is Jesus and His birth.  Here was God, coming in the form of a human baby in a miraculous way.  Two human parents, Mary and Joseph would nurture and raise Him.  Were these two people superhuman?  They were conceived and born the way we were.   They had human emotions and reactions. 
     Joseph does not get talked about much compared to Mary and even the visitors, the shepherds and wise men.  (Do you know of any Christmas songs focusing on Joseph?)    There is not a lot of material on Joseph in the Bible but what we have, we can get some idea of who he was.  Matthew 1:18-25 provides some of the best info on him.  When we are introduced to him, Joseph is engaged to his young lady, Mary.  Mary is probably an early aged teenager and Joseph is older than her.  This could have been an arranged marriage between their parents.  Joseph was so excited to be married and be given the respect of a married man in their culture.  He was a hard worker and  developing his skill as a proficient carpenter.
     What we do know is they are in the engagement segment of their marriage process which in their culture, meant to break off the engagement basically took the equivalent of a divorce.  It was not simply saying, “I don’t want to marry you any longer” and the girl gives the ring back to the guy if she had one. 
      Joseph was considered Mary’s husband in this agreement and was a God-fearing, devout Jew.  He also had a compassionate, loving heart attitude as he did not want to expose Mary to public humiliation when he was planning to divorce her of being pregnant before their actual marriage date, when the couple was morally allowed to be involved sexually (Matthew 1:19).  The public had to view Mary’s pregnancy as Joseph’s child or that Mary had gotten involved with another man during her engagement to Joseph (Mark 6:1-5). 
      Think about Joseph.  If your fiancée told you that she got pregnant by “God”, would you believe her?  Your thoughts would be, “Who is the other guy?!!!”  We never know whether even Mary’s parents believed her.  Joseph loved and deeply respected Mary, but he felt betrayed because to be pregnant meant you got involved with another guy. 
       It took an encounter with an angel through a dream to convince Joseph that this pregnancy did not occur the normal way (1:20-21,24-25).  After the angel spoke to Joseph, he obeyed and took Mary as his wife.  No longer were there anymore doubts about what Mary was telling him.  It took courage on Joseph’s part to carry out what God told him to do because many people in Nazareth and surrounding areas never believed the story.  In Mark 6:1-3, when Jesus was an adult, He was introduced to His hometown as being the son of Mary, not Joseph, indicating that Jesus was illegitimate. 
     Living and doing God’s will is not always easy and often misunderstood.  Make sure you are being obedient to the truths found in the Bible and working to be the believer God calls us to be.  It takes courage and fortitude to be obedient.  That is one way we can relate to Joseph and respect the role he played in God’s plan.