For every one hundred people that you talk to about how they study the bible, you will receive one hundred different responses. Reading the bible, front to back every year. Selecting passages of the bible, say the book of Luke, and rereading it completely, everyday for 30 days before moving on. Finding particular passages, writing and rewriting them until you have memorized them by heart. Just some examples of reading the bible and all valid in their own right. We all learn differently, we all study differently. For those that feel a call to spiritual leadership, we need to be confident in what we learn as we go about our study in order to fulfill the requirements of our position.
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 (NIV)
Our is a call not only to educate, rather also to apply what is taught to real world situation. Spouting book knowledge, or this case scripture, without the understanding of what it means, why it is meaningful and why it changes the current situation is fruitless.
Study of the scriptures should be:
Prayerful – Ask God for clarity of purpose, openness of mind, wisdom to understand and the gift of discernment as you begin your study.
Contextual – As leaders we need to understand the reality in which our people live. If we are to engage them from the beginning, we need them to know that we truly understand them. The scriptures are the same way, to have a true understanding of the intent of the scriptures we need to augment our reading with a sense of the time, culture, geography, the setting, the people involved in the conversation.
Historical – The Apostle Paul was great at this. He put his teachings into historical perspective for his audience so that they might be equipped to comprehend the message. For example, in the defense he puts on before the angry Jews in Jerusalem, the scripture says:
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet. Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city.”
By just using their native tongue, the angry mob stopped and listened to what he wanted to say. By reminding them that he grew up in Jerusalem just as as they had. He was one of them. They had common historical background and ancestry so they allowed him to speak.
Study and understand the history of your faith as you study. Before the scriptures were written, these stories were told by one generation to the next. Feel that tradition as you learn the word.
Applicational – We have the words, we have the context, we have the history, all we need now is some way to but it into the context of our daily lives. It is the toughest part, however I would suggest that this is where the gift of discernment. If we internalize the scriptures as we study them, we can see how they can be applied to situations that we have been in, or family and friends have been through, we can apply God’s truth to understanding our situation. Bring the scriptures into life in order that you can empower others with the knowledge that leads to comfort and peace in their lives
Remember leaders, you are influencers, what you do and say will impact the lives of people into the future. Leadership is not authority, it is responsibility. Hebrews 13:7 implies that we should consider the spiritual leaders that came before us, influenced us and reproduced Christ’s likeness in us. It is now our responsibility through our studies and influence, to mold the next generation of disciples.
Be a blessing to someone today,