What Does The Bible Say About Church Leaders?

God’s plan has always been for His leaders to organize and oversee His ministry.

The important thing for us to distinguish is “His.” It’s not a man or woman saying, “I will be a leader,” or even a God-appointed leader saying, “I am going to build up my ministry.”

The New Testament gives us a fourfold purpose for the Body of Christ:

  1. Mobilizing for evangelism
  2. Organizing for more meaningful ministry
  3. Making disciple-makers
  4. Caring for one another

We see God’s leaders involved in all of these aspects—

Mobilizing for evangelism—Peter pointed out the need for an apostle to be appointed to replace Judas, thus returning their ranks to the 12 apostles just as Jesus had originally said (Acts 1:15-22).

Organizing for more meaningful ministry—Everywhere Paul founded a church, he also appointed leaders to oversee and shepherd that church.

Making disciple-makers—Paul tells us that God appointed five offices of leaders in the church who had the specific task of preparing church members to do the ministry of building maturity in the church (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Caring for one another—The First Church set the pace for providing care for all who were in need, including organizing leaders to oversee specific care ministries (Acts 6:1-5).

What about a church congregation’s responsibility to their leaders? I see five areas:

  1. Hold them accountable to the Word (Acts 17:11). The Bible has to be THE standard to which leaders are held.
  2. Give them your confidence and submission after they have shown accountability to their biblical mandate (Hebrews 13:17).
  3. Pray for them (Ephesians 6:19).
  4. Pay them (1 Timothy 5:17).
  5. Be very careful about accusing them (1 Timothy 5:19).

A church and its leaders following this biblical pattern is a church that can effectively fulfill the Great Commission which Jesus gave us.

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Tuning Out Enemies

“…they thought to do me harm”Nehemiah

Nehemiah had enemies on almost every side as he attempted to complete his work (the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem). Check out his enemies’ strategy and his response to them—

Enemy’s tactic #1—Get Nehemiah preoccupied with attending meaningless meetings.

Nehemiah’s response—“I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?”

Enemy’s tactic #2—Send out letters slandering Nehemiah.

Nehemiah’s response—“There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.” Then he prayed, “God, give me strength.”

Enemy’s tactic #3—Try to scare Nehemiah into running away.

Nehemiah’s response—“Should someone in my position run from danger? I know that God wouldn’t like that.”

Nehemiah had a vision from God and he stayed focused on that.

  • It determined his priority
  • It set his daily agenda
  • It gave him discernment
  • It gave him courage

The result: “When all our enemies heard [that we had completed our project]…they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.”

A mark of a godly leader is one so focused on God’s plan that he pays no attention to his critics or enemies.

This is Part 7 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

Godly Leaders Can Inspire Everyone To Pursue One Vision

And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also all of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work. (Nehemiah 2:18)

The mark of a godly leader is one who can inspire all sorts of people to pursue the same vision.

Nehemiah did such a good job casting the vision God had given him that people from all professions and persuasions immediately joined in. Although the vision was to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, most of those who joined Nehemiah in pursuing this vision were anything but builders. They were…

  • Priests
  • Fathers and their sons
  • Fathers and their daughters
  • Natural-born Israelites
  • God-fearing foreigners
  • Goldsmiths
  • Perfume makers
  • Leaders
  • Laypeople
  • Those living within the city
  • Those who lived outside the city
  • Merchants

With one voice they cried out, “Let’s rise up and build!” and they got down to business.

All these different people buying-in to one godly leader’s vision!

This is Part 5 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

A Godly Leader’s “We”

When Nehemiah heard about the devastation in Jerusalem, the first thing he did was a very good thing: “I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).

An important mark of a godly leader is one who exchanges “you” and “me” for “we.”

Godly leaders identify themselves with their people; they don’t think of themselves more highly nor look down on others.

Nehemiah said in his prayer, “BOTH my father’s house and I have sinned. WE have acted corruptly against You” (vv. 6, 7). Given the fact that this is 70 years after Judah went into captivity, it is doubtful that Nehemiah was captured in Jerusalem, but he was probably born in exile. Yet he said WE sinned against God.

He also asks God to “be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, AND to the prayer of Your servantS” (v. 11). Once again Nehemiah identifies himself with all the people by not claiming that his prayer carries any more weight than anyone else’s prayer. Every prayer, in Nehemiah’s mind, was equally as pleasant to God’s ears.

My prayer—Help me to be a “we” leader.

This is Part 23 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

This is Part 2 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

10 Quotes From “Legacy Leadership”

I just finished an outstanding reading plan on YouVersion called Legacy Leadership by Dr. J. Lee Whittington. For anyone interested in the biblical concept of servant-leadership, I highly recommend you check out this reading plan.

Here are a few quotes I especially liked…

“Legacy Leadership is a process of intentional influence that takes place in the context of a relationship.”

“There is a recurring pattern of affirmation and exhortation in Paul’s leadership. He provided a dynamic balance between challenging his followers to grow and acknowledging their progress. He was affirming, but never content.”

“There is a growing trend to attack, criticize, and resent anyone who has talent or achievements that sets them apart from others. This tendency extends to those who resent the efforts of leaders who challenge the status quo. Opponents of change initiatives often attempt to marginalize leaders by attacking their character and questioning their motives. If the messenger is flawed, then the message and vision they offer cannot be trusted. As disappointing as it is, these challenges come with the territory of leadership.

“If I am to lead with integrity, I must always confront my own lack of integrity. This demands a willingness to constantly reflect on my motives and the courage to confront my own hypocrisy. It also requires me to allow myself the discomfort of inviting the scrutiny of both the Lord and others who care enough to confront me about my motives, my attitudes, and my behavior.”

“The most effective leaders are able to exert influence without asserting their formal authority. … Paul deliberately chose to forego the legitimate, reward, and coercive power inherent in his position. Instead, he leaned into another base of power: referent power. Referent power is based on respect and admiration. When this is present, the followers identify with and want to emulate their leader. This power base does not come from the leader’s position or control of resources. Rather, it is based on the leader’s character and integrity. Referent power is based on who the leader is.”

“Legacy Leaders do not lead from a distance. They imitate Jesus who said, ‘I am among you as one who serves’ (Luke 22:27). They are comfortable sharing their lives with their followers.”

“The best relationships between a leader and their followers are those that are characterized by a great deal of mutual trust and shared information. The responsibility for creating this type of relationship rests squarely on the shoulders of the leader.”

“Authentic leaders have a seamless link between their values and their actions. But the congruence between values and attitudes is just the starting point for authentic leadership.  From the perspective of scripture, a leader’s attitudes and actions must be anchored to God’s standards. When a leader’s enacted values are in congruence with their espoused values, and those espoused values are in turn anchored to God’s principles, the leader had moral authority.”

“It’s easy to critique the authenticity of others.  But, if we are really serious about developing our own authenticity, we must focus on ourselves. I read this statement several years ago: ‘If we are to be people of integrity, we must constantly confront our lack of integrity.’”

“Legacy Leaders embrace the principles of servant-leadership and understand that the conscious choice to lead comes after the desire to serve. This inclination is not natural. It must be energized by continuous reliance on the empowering presence of God’s Spirit.”

8 Quotes From “Born After Midnight”

A.W. Tozer’s writings are nearly five decades old, but they still ring with prophetic truth for this generation. Check out my book review of Born After Midnight by clicking here. Below are a few of the quotes from this book.

“It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be. … The problem is not to persuade God to fill us, but to want God sufficiently to permit Him to do so.”

“In of book of Acts, faith was for each believer a beginning, not an end; it was a journey, not a bed in which to lie while waiting for the day of our Lord’s triumph. Believing was not a once-done act; it was more than an act, it was an attitude of heart and mind that inspired and enabled the believer to take up his cross and follow the Lamb whithersoever He went.”

“I am afraid we modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct. … Our Lord and His apostles were long on deeds. The Gospels depict a Man walking in power, ‘who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him’ (Acts 10:38). The moral relation between words and deeds appears quite plainly in the life and teachings of Christ; He did before He spoke, and all the doing gave validity to the speaking.”

“We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, ‘Lord, help me to carry my cross daily’ than to pick up the cross and carry it.”

“‘Whoever will be great among you, let him be your minister,’ said our Lord (Matthew 20:26), and from these words, we may properly conclude (and the context strongly supports the conclusion) that there is nothing wrong with the desire to be great provided (1) we seek the right kind of greatness; (2) we allow God to decide what is greatness; (3) we are willing to pay the full price that greatness demands; and (4) we are content to wait for the judgment of God to settle the whole matter of who is great at last.”

“God may allow his servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. … God will allow His servant to succeed when he has learned that success does not make him dearer to God nor more valuable in the total scheme of things.”

“While we cannot determine circumstances, we can determine our reaction to them. And there is where the battle is to be fought and the victory won.”

“To ‘accept the universe’ does not mean that we are to accept evil conditions as inevitable and make no effort to improve them. So to teach would be to cancel the plain teaching of the Scriptures on that point. Where a situation is contrary to the will of God, and there are clear promises concerning it in the Scriptures, it is our privilege and obligation to pray and labor to bring about change.”

More quotes from this book are coming soon…

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