Leaders should be leading somewhere. That should go without saying, but sometimes leadership appears to be more of a title than a practice. The early church leaders were more than figureheads. They were tasked with spreading the gospel and feeding the flock as they expressly avoided micro-management of the growing church.
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:2-4
Everyone is not called to lead, but everyone is called to contribute. What makes any organization more successful is a spirit of oneness, where artificial differences are not used to gauge one’s value. The early church modeled a unity that is still a vital ingredient of a healthy, functioning church. Remember Paul’s counsel:
But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 1 Corinthians 12:24-27
After all, the work of spreading the gospel was never meant to be left on the shoulders of leaders alone. God has given individuals needed skills to advance the gospel and implement mechanisms that will be of benefit to the entire church body, not just themselves. Our leaders were never meant to be a substitution of our own responsibility to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Their roles include aiding the general body in pushing forward the gospel.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
Dangers to the flock exist on every hand. Threats both internally and externally are a concern for those who have been tasked with being a leader in God’s church. As in the early church, there are those who fear that advancing too fast will result in lowering the standards for all. That is usually accompanied by clinging to traditions for the sake of tradition. That is contrary to the spirit of Jesus and results in loss of enthusiasm by the Joshuas and Calebs who want to seize the land.
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Galatians 2:4-5
Equally dangerous to the advancement of the church is the spirit that anything goes. Leadership that rightly appreciates the high calling of the church will never cheapen the gospel in order to appear more acceptable to the masses. While methods and techniques may change, change for the sake of change alone produces tracks with no destination.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
Realization of the great calling of being a leader results in a spirit of humility. All the noted great leaders of God’s people as recorded in the Bible had one thing in common: humility. While they looked to God for their strength and direction and not to themselves, they were safe and effective. The greatest danger to a leader is to believe their own press and cease to depend on God.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. Romans 12:3, Psalm 25:9
Still, even with all of the burdens and challenges of being a leader of God’s people, there are people with the courage, fortitude, willingness, and character to lead. Let’s support those who have the task of pushing forward the gospel. Let’s pray for them. And if you are a leader, always remember that in your weakness you will experience your greatest strength.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does being a spiritual leader mean to you?
- Is there a difference between a spiritual leader and someone who leads in a secular capacity? Explain your answer
- Isn’t it true that the more formal education one has the better a leader they will be? Why or why not?
- How necessary are qualities such as kindness, civility, and gentleness to the success of a spiritual leader? Explain your answer
- Isn’t it true that past seriously negative behavior, though repented of, should disqualify some from spiritual leadership roles? Why or why not?
- List some qualities that would indicate that a person would make an effective spiritual leader.
- List some qualities that would indicate that a person would not make an effective spiritual leader.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: As a church member, we should not question a leaders decision. Our job is to follow their directions. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson on The First Church Leaders with instruction from Simon Peter who was taught by the greatest Leader that ever lived.
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it overthose entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Peter 5:1-4
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons