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Leadership in the Church

It is God's GIFT for edification

The ACTS magazine (a publication of the Churches of God, 7th Day,
Meridian, ID, USA) of November 2007 contained some fine articles
on the subject of "leadership" in the Church, together with a
study on the TWO GREATEST leaders of all time. It is my pleasure
to produce these articles on this Website - Keith Hunt.


From the Editor of ACTS magazine:


"The one who is the greatest among you must become like the
youngest, and the leader like the servant." Luke 22:26, NASB

     In many ways the Bible is a book on leadership. The Old
Testament is chocked full of examples of when God called men and
women to share His Word and lead by example. Abraham led his
family to a strange land and exhibited faith. Later, Moses and
Joshua played central roles in leading the Hebrews out of the
house of bondage and into the Promised Land. As a "man after
God's own heart," the shepherd David exhibited stalwart courage
as the king of young Israel during difficult times. To keep the
kings in check and to deliver the Word of the Lord to His people,
God sent prophets forth who served both as His spokesmen and
leaders.
     The New Testament adds to the rich tradition of leadership
already set forth by the Old Testament. We need look no further
than to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus spent over
three years teaching, mentoring, and discipling the twelve, among
others. After Jesus' death, a structure of leadership developed
to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful. The fivefold
ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and
teachers worked "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work
of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ"
(Ephesians 4:12).

     Biblical leadership encompasses the two-fold work of a
servant-shepherd. As our opening quote alludes to, biblical
leadership is first and foremost service. During the Last Supper
discourse Jesus could have harkened back to the Old Testament and
proclaimed the disciples as priests. He instead exalted the role
of servant and slave (see Luke 22:24-27). Why? Humility keeps us
grounded; it reminds us that we are neither gods nor kings, but
that we are servants of the one true God and the King of kings.
And service provides us with opportunities to put our faith into
action. This is the kind of living faith that the Book of James
chapter 2 encouraged. Let us exercise a living faith in the
living God!

     Another aspect of biblical leadership is shepherding.  In
addressing the elders, Peter wrote, "Be shepherds of God's flock
that is under your care ... because you are willing" (1 Peter
5:2, NIV). As sheep can be easily led astray at times, a shepherd
must provide robust guidance despite the difficulties. The
church, therefore, needs willing and capable believers to
shepherd God's flock. A shepherd is responsible for feeding his
sheep. Likewise, believers need to be fed spiritual food, exalted
at times, reprimanded at others, but always discipled for growth.
And because behavior flows from beliefs, a good shepherd sets
good examples because he is faithful to God's Word. No human word
could ever supplant the Word.

     Though there are many excellent books on leadership, much
can be learned by gleaning through God's Word. As we are about to
close this year, let us reflect upon what it means to embrace
biblical leadership as we live the life, the abundant life, that
Christ and Christ alone offers us.

"Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed
you on knowledge and understanding" Jeremiah 3:15, NASB.
In His Service,

John R. Kennedy



                         GOD'S GIFT TO THE CHURCH


by  Stan Savage


     One day a disgruntled church member was heard to say, "I
don't like our pastor - he thinks he is God's gift to the
church." Thinking beyond his obvious disappointment, I was
intrigued by his statement of profound, scriptural truth - truth
he failed to grasp even though it sprang forth from his own lips.
The Gospel truth is that our leaders are indeed, like it or not,
"God's gift to the church."

     Much can be said about our God and foremost among the
obvious is that God is love (1John 4:8). Love gives, so it
naturally follows that the word "gracious" is used to describe
Him, a word meaning kindness, mercy, and describing one who
extends undeserved favor and help. The Greek "charis" (grace) is
often interwoven with "doma" (gift) to picture God as a giver of
unmerited presents or gifts. Ephesians 4:7-8 says, "To each of us
grace was given according to the measure of Christ's' gift"
(NASA) and "When he ascended on high ... He gave gifts to men."
Romans 8:32 says, He shall with Jesus "...freely give us all
things". We are invited in Hebrews 4:16 to "come boldly to the
throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help
in time of need." (KJV) Thus, living in New Covenant grace means
nothing less than living under a cornucopia of gifts, a veritable
shower of presents.
     But in what way does the Lord help us? What are the gifts He
has given to us? Of course, no list could be long enough to
include all the varied ways He helps each individual believer,
nor to even briefly mention the countless gifts we receive every
hour. Yet, by focusing upon the remarkable declaration in
Ephesians 4:11-13, we can identify and emphasize five wonderful
gifts of grace (undeserved presents) our Father has given to the
aggregate body of His church. The verse says, "He Himself gave
some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some
pastors and teachers:" (NKJV) Yes, He gave to the church a
company of called, skilled, dedicated, and consecrated
undershepherds. 
     Oh the magnitude of God's great love and wisdom! Jesus
Himself is the head of the church, the pastor general, the
pontifex maximus, the great shepherd of the sheep. When He, the
good shepherd described in John 10, saw the people, He had
compassion upon them because they were as sheep without a
shepherd, weary and scattered (Luke 9:36). He could see they
needed comfort, rest, medicine, provision, protection and
guidance - all the things Psalm 23 says, the good shepherd
provides. He is not pleased with a weary and scattered flock and
commands them to assemble regularly (Hebrews 10:25). This command
has a grand purpose that far transcends just congregating in one
geographical location. The church must grow up into maturity,
unto the likeness of Jesus, and to serve as He served (Ephesians
4:12-16), a challenging, dual purpose that can never happen
without assembling. And, without some excellent leadership, there
would be no point for assembling! It is exactly to address this
vital necessity that God has given some apostles, prophets,
evangelists, pastors and teachers. Their very existence is a
statement from Jesus about what the church really needs, to
properly assemble and to successfully be the church.

     It is the certain duty of every believer to salute,
appreciate, support and follow, these God ordained men, giving
them opportunity to fulfill their role with joy.

     The apostles, men who earn their living by means of the
gospel (I Corinthians 9:14), are "sent ones," men selected by
Jesus to travel, start, set in order, strengthen and stabilize
local churches. Although modern apostles can never replace the
original twelve, but they are like them in many respects, being
called, trained, sent, committed and successful.

     The prophets are revival preachers with two primary
functions. First, they share with God's people special insights
about upcoming events. As Amos 3:7 says, "...God does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the
prophets." (NASB) Much of our Bible consists of messages from the
prophets, helping us to see what lies ahead on the road of
obedience. But also they powerfully articulate special insight
about the present, being keenly attune to any ethical or moral
weaknesses in the body. Commissioned to function like warning
lights on an instrument panel, they often decrease in popularity,
but with courage and fortitude they continue to speak the truth
with a balance of tough love and fullness of grace.

     The evangelists exhibit a heartfelt burden for the
unchurched, those who are being lost. They are especially skilled
and compelled to confront the world with the claims of Christ. We
do not "hire" these people to fulfill our role as effective
witnesses, but we allow them to function among us that we all may
be assisted, trained, motivated, and organized, as we cheerfully
follow their missionary example.

     The pastors are local members who live and work near the
church but are not content to just "attend church." They desire
to nurture, protect, encourage, counsel and feed the growing
flock among them (I Timothy 3:1; I Peter 5:1-4). Sharing their
privilege of service with other local elders, some who preach and
some who do not (I Timothy 5:17). These sincere, spiritual,
consistent men see that all things are done decently and in order
(I Corinthians 14:40). Together, they lead the sheep to grow up
and to develop their own effective individual ministries (mission
services). When asked, "Where is your church?" these humble men
reply, "Oh, I don't own a church. I'm just helping the one that
belongs to Jesus."

     The teachers are the master chefs of sheep food. They are
diligent student, highly motivated to study, for he who dares to
teach must never cease to learn. They are, also, greatly gifted
communicators whose genius lies not in taking the plain truth and
making it complicated but in taking complex theology and making
it simple. They are able to regularly visit and harvest small
gardens and large farms of information, then to select, prepare,
and serve attractive; palatable, healthy banquets of biblical
instruction. Sometimes these prized servants travel out as guest
teachers into other churches (2 John 1:5-8).

     Just as it is quite common for some individual Christian's
to possess many gifts, it is also common for a leader to function
in more than one of these offices. The work described for each
officer overlaps, completes and compliments the work of each
other officer. In this way 2 Corinthians 12:9 is fulfilled, where
Jesus says, "My grace (gifts) is sufficient for you." (NASB)

     The original seven "deacons" selected in Acts 6 were
servants of the church, for that is the meaning of the Greek
"diakonos." They are described as men full of the Holy Spirit,
wisdom and of good reputation. What more could be said about any
leader? To be a faithful servant is the highest honor, the
greatest aspiration, and the supreme success for any Christian.
Jesus said, "He who is greatest among you shall be your servant"
(Matthew 23:11) (NKJV) and "...He who is least among you all will
be great" (Luke 9:48) (NKJV). First Peter 4:10 commands us, that
if you have a gift, use it to serve one another. It is in this
technical respect that all five church officers are "deacons"
(servants) and reflect the pinnacle of advancement and promotion
in God's kingdom government. This explains why Paul in I Timothy
3:13 tells us, "Those who have served well as deacons obtain for
themselves a hiah standing..." (NASB)

     In conclusion, it is the certain duty of every believer to
salute, appreciate, support and follow, these God ordained men,
giving them opportunity to fulfill their role with joy (Hebrews
13:17). The sheep, which believes he needs no under-shepherd, is
not wiser than Jesus but more likely deceived into arrogance akin
to presumption and rebellion. Remembering what we've learned from
our disgruntled friends' remark, let us ever praise God for the
richness of His marvelous gift. Without equivocation, these
humble men who serve the true church with such love and
sacrificial devotion are "Gods gift to the church!"

                             .................


Stan Savage and his wife, Barbara, live in Louisiana. He serves
the church as a teacher and evangelist.



                             TWO GREAT LEADERS


by Pieter E. Barkhuizen, Th.D.


     When you type in the word "Leadership" on Amazon.com, the
word appears in 154,199, book titles, everything from "Monday
Morning Leadership," to "Primal Leadership," to "The Benedictine
Rule of Leadership," to "Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus,"
according to Roger Helland, M.Div.

     I have tried to find proper definitions for
leader/leadership/leadership styles, and discovered that there
are indeed plenty of definitions available "out there"; from
secular and religious, to cultural and other perspectives. Since
my concentration will focus on the spiritual realm, here are four
statements we could consider as parameters:

1) According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester,
"Leadership is the process of influencing the behavior of other
people toward group goals in a way that fully respects their
freedom."

2) Christian leader John C.Maxwell says, "Leadership is influence
- nothing more, nothing less."

3) According to author R.J.House, Leadership is "the ability of
an individual to influence, motivate and enable others to
contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the
organization of which they are members."

4) And finally, Thought Leader Peter Drucker said, "the only
definition of a leader is someone who has followers."

     The common denominator in all four statements is the
powerful ability to INFLUENCE. These definitions are not defining
"good" or "bad" Leadership but simply Leadership per se.

     Before we study two of the most successful leaders the
universe had ever observed, I want to direct your attention to
the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11. Many of the "inductees" were
SILENT leaders - some didn't say much, but they possessed that
special ability to influence.
     Abel is listed among the first of the faithful. He set an
example by bringing his sacrifices as an exhibit of his trust and
understanding of the plan of salvation. He certainly influenced
others to understand the promise of a coming Messiah. Enoch set
an example of how to love, by faith, someone we do not fully see
or understand.
     When we look up and see the sky, it's easy to believe,
because we can observe. But we need faith to believe in the God
who lives beyond the sky and cannot be seen. Abraham and Isaac
demonstrated in the clearest way possible, the story of the
coming Cross - the gospel. Rehab was an idol-worshiping
prostitute, who made the list also! How could that be? She is a
silent influence to teach us the lesson of God's abundant GRACE.
And that's good enough! A great lesson of how the blood of Jesus
can make the vilest sinner clean.
     And the list includes Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah,
David, Samuel, Moses, and the prophets ... they all had that
special ability: to influence people!

     If I had to make up the list, I probably would have included
more "silent leaders." I most certainly would have included women
leaders, such as Deborah, who was not only a model wife but also
a counselor, judge, and war hero. The Bible does not give us much
detail about Deborah, but one thing we know for sure: people were
influenced by her! Esther is another outstanding story of
leadership of a courageous and faithful woman, who worked hard to
save her people from being destroyed. Ruth, and the "mother of
all mother-in-laws," Naomi, something about Naomi influenced or
attracted Ruth and Orpah to her. And then I would have included
Mary, Jesus' mother and the "other Mary," who fell broken and
weeping at Jesus' feet....

    I now want to focus on two of the greatest and most successful
leaders the universe had ever known. Brace yourself for a shock
... because the first successful leader to ever put foot on
planet earth is Lucifer, the fallen angel; also known as "the
great dragon ... that old serpent ... the Devil, and Satan"
(Revelation 12:9). Was he an influential leader? Absolutely!
According to Revelation 12:4, he deceived a third of the angles
of heaven. Was he successful? Every time we stand by an open
grave, or when we hear a baby cry ... we know the answer. The
devil was very influential - and still is today. Are we in
agreement so far? The super-tool the Devil used to become so
influential is called DECEPTION. Revelation 12:9 says he is
Satan, "which deceiveth the whole world ..." One of the Devil's
first disciples was Eve, who apparently never said much, but
introduced us all to the biggest problem the world has ever
known: SIN! Her son, Cain, demonstrated some of the results of
his mother's bad influence by killing his brother, Abel.
     So, the Devil was such a powerful leader that he indeed
became the Prince of this World when he traded positions with
Adam. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came
to present themselves before Lord, and Satan came also among
them." According to Job 1:6, he apparently became the legitimate
representative of planet earth. All accomplished very brilliantly
by ... deception!

     And now we want to look at the other cosmic leader. The
Bible records 124 different names and titles for Jesus. Here are
some of them: The Second Adam (I Corinthians 15:4547), Alpha and
Omega or "Beginning and End" (Revelation 21:6), Bread of Life
(John 5:35), Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16),
Carpenter's Son (Matthew 13:55), Emmanuel or "God with us"
(Matthew 1:23), Lamb of God (John 1:29), Lily of the Valley, Rose
of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1), and Savior of the World (I John
4:14).
     The Bible identifies the Devil as "a liar, and the father of
it," (John 8:44). On the other hand, the Bible identifies Jesus
as "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

     Let's work together as we consider the difference in
leadership styles between Jesus and Satan. Please compare the
concepts:

Christ
1) John 10:11
2) Luke 7:34
3) 1 Timothy 2:5

Satan
1) John 10:2
2) Matthew 13:39
3) Revelation 12:10

     When we study the New Testament, there are three Greek words
used to describe specific leadership positions in the church:

pastors or shepherds (POIMANOS), overseers (EPISKOPOS), and
elders (PRESBUTEROS). These Greek words have almost the same
meaning and could be used interchangeably. I personally like the
idea of shepherd-servant.

     In contrast to the deceitful leadership style of Satan,
Psalm 23 portrays Jesus as the gentle shepherd leading his flock
- the sheep follow the shepherd out of their own volition - never
forced - but gently guided - shepherded. Notice how Peter
describes Jesus as the SHEPHERD of our souls. 1 Peter 2:25, "For
ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the
shepherd and bishop of your souls." A real shepherd is not just a
leader of sheep, but he cares for them.

     We find a most practical example of Jesus as servant-leader
in the institution of the Service of Humility: "After that He
poureth water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet,
and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded" (John
13:5).
     Here we learn lesson number one: If you want to be a great
leader, you have to exhibit an attitude of sincere humility. You
have to come down - even from the pulpit - and meet the people at
the ground level. Jesus stepped down ... to meet men and women
where they were. He loved them and they became convinced of His
sincerity. I once had a seminary professor, the famed Dr.Merritt
Stanley Congdon, who said to me one day, "Pieter, always
remember, people will never listen to your message unless they
can feel your love." I never forgot that!

     Someone may say, "servant-leadership is for sissies, you
must be strong and authoritative, then people will respect you
more." I can attest to the wrongness of such a perception. Very
few people, especially volunteers, like to be forced or coerced
into any kind of action. They want to be treated with love and
gentleness and respect. Even if you are not one with great
oratorical skills, but, if you are loving and humble, you will
always be welcome to share the vision or dream you have.

     Another secret to servant leadership is not to simply issue
orders and demands but to be a CO-LABORER. Respect, and also
allow other people to have some input, and suggestions, in order
to create within them the conviction that they have a "vested
interest" in your program or mission. Proverbs 15:22 says,
"Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude
of counselors they are established."

     In this great drama on earth, each one of us must make a
choice. We must expose ourselves to the leadership-influence of
one of the two "great leaders" - either the false god of this
world (Satan), Matthew 4:8,9 or the "Lord of Lords and King of
Kings" (Jesus) Revelation 19:16. I believe you have made the
correct choice: Jesus!

     The problem and stark reality of the year 2007 is that most
of the world is still largely under the Devil's control and
influence. People obey his orders, heed to his temptations, and
participate in his wicked ways. However, the Bible teaches a
complete and total victory through Jesus for you, His faithful
follower!

"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made
nigh by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2.13).

                            ..................


Dr.Pieter Barkhuizen can be reached by e-mail at
or by mail at P.O. Box 62, South Pittsburg, TN 37380. Write for
his FREE book: The Fourth Dilemma, dealing with the Sabbath and
salvation (50,000 have already been given away).

Entered on this Website January 2008


 
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