Developing Christ-like character
The second part of Ezra 7:10 speaks to an essential aspect of leadership development that connects intimacy with Christ, and ministry skills. This essential bridge between our communion with God and our ministry is our character. For Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord, AND TO DO IT, and to teach His statutes and His ordinances in Israel. The Gospels are full of Christ's hatred of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and ministry without character is always hypocritical and ultimately destructive in the Kingdom of God.
In the Biblical Theological Seminary we aim to develop Christ-like character in our men by three means: studying character in the Scripture, modeling, and giving timely feedback while we spend time with the men we are training. This feed-back takes place in three venues: 1) at the seminary during the two intensive courses that last 2 weeks every year, and during the on-line courses, 2) during our leaders’ visits to our pastors homes, and churches, and 3) during our Eurasian pastors’ and students’ visits to our home churches and presbyteries in North America.
An example of our teaching on character is the course on the Pastoral Epistles taught by the Reverend Blake Purcell in March of 2012 in St. Petersburg. The students were taught an in-depth look at the character traits of elders from I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. You can see Blake's note on these chapters here.
I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 both portray the godly family as the foundation of ministry. Consequently, at the seminary we not only have John Mahon and Blake Purcell teach and preach regularly on having a multigenerational vision for the family, and the need for family integrated churches, and biblical courting principles, but both men are able to share their extensive experience of raising their own children and now grand children in the Lord.
Blake, John, and others like Scott Davidson and Carl Bobb visit the homes of our students to meet their families. This has been a major feature of our mentoring. Carl Bobb and Scott Davidson visited pastor Evgeniy's family in Kazakhstan in January of 2011, and Blake and Cathy visited Evgeniy and his family and church in May of 2012. Oleg and Blake have visited pastor Ravil's family in Tyumen, Siberia, every other year, as Eric Sauder and his church members have as well. Blake has also visited most of the families of the students in the Far East, traveling there 3 times the last 4 years. Yuri Levchenko and Evgeniy Kruzhkov, praise the Lord, are raising 3 and more children that are growing in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
This year of the disciple includes each student leading his family in family worship 4 times a year, and most of our churches now have all the children of their churches in covenant renewal worship on Sundays. This is the first time ever for these things to be practiced in churches in these areas of the world.