January marks a fresh start. Fresh starts require fresh thinking. It is with just such an aim the family group leaders of the London International church of Christ gathered this morning. The annual leadership workshop was kicked off by Corey & Angela Stuck teaching on, “A Workman Approved” from 2 Timothy 2.15. Here are selected excerpts from their lesson.
“A Workman Approved”
2Tim. 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
“Approved” = tested like metal.
Three habits to become approved….
1. Pass on conviction, 2 Tim 2.2
2Tim. 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Our calling is not just to believe the right things, but to pass on our convictions to others – like Jesus did. How did he do it? He: 
*Prayed for his disciples
*Patiently repeated lessons when they did not “get it” the first time
*Told truth, even if it hurt
*Helped people in their hurts, not leaving them to go through them alone
*Did not run away when tough times came, or he was mistreated
*Passed on conviction, not just instruction
*Had these things in his heart, not just his mind
We pass on convictions effectively when we understand the heart and the motives behind why we do what we do, and not just the actions themselves. 
Suggestion: write out a list of your non-negotiable convictions. Then next to each one write why they are they non-negotiable. If we do this we will be less shaken by those who question our convictions, and clearer about what we are trying to pass on to others and why. 

The best way to pass on our convictions is by modeling them in our own lives – that’s how Jesus did it. 
1Tim. 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
The word “example” can be used to describe a die for a coin. If distorted, it has long-lasting negative impact and will be replicated for good or ill. This is why we keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the standard and we are always looking forward and moving in that direction. 
2. Effective discipling
2Tim. 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We never grow out of the need for discipling, and neither do the people in our ministries. But are we effective? To be effective in discipling one another we will need to find the Biblical principles. If we are clear on these we will develop healthy practices. The verse above summarises so much of what this is about (a useful book on this topic is, “How to help people change” by J Adams).
Jesus focussed on discipling the heart, not the actions. What holds us back from doing the same? We do not need to allow our own pain of the past (or that of those to whom we speak) to prevent us from talking about matters of the heart. Let’s leave no elephant in the room. 
Angela pointed out that fear is a big issue for women. Fear of getting hurt and of hurting others in relationships. But the pain of the past does not need to control our future. 

Some ideas for deepening our relationships:
*Consistency. Nothing beats spending quantity time together regularly.
*Plan ahead. If we know when we are meeting up it takes stress out of life. 
*Reset. Sometimes things happen that get in the way of meeting up. When this happens don’t be passive, but reset things. 
*Variety. Vary times together – pray, watch a movie, eat, talk etc..
We need each other. Self-protection seems attractive, but it only prevents love being enjoyed. Remember: discipling works, that’s why Jesus did it!
3. Work as One
John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Unity produces fruit. One of the reasons the church stood out in Acts 2 was the unity of the group – Acts 2:46-47,  “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 
A healthy church or family group will have a culture of ‘oneness’ like that early church. Groups that have this will be ones where the members use their gifts for the benefit of all. The group will work together to help people to become Christians. We will have what Angela called, “the sense of a goose”. Geese fly in formation to make the flight easier. They help one another when tired and honk encouragement. Let’s have the sense of geese!

John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
How can we show our love for one another to the world? Be creative. Work together with other members of your group to show the love of Christ to this world. Have friends into your home and involve one another in the lives of each others’ friends. 
If we ….
*Pass on convictions
*Perform effective discipling
*Plan to work as one
…we can be confident of being a workman approved.