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Fail-Proof Spiritual Leadership

Notes & Transcripts

Leadership is not easy. When a sports team does not win, the owner fires the head coach. When a corporation loses its competitive edge or fails in a major way to live up to expectations, the board of directors often fires the president. When a church does not grow according to people's expectations, the pastor is often forced out.

Those called to be leaders in the church, who preach, teach, and lead God's flock, are entrusted with the unequaled duty of proclaiming the gospel to unbelieving sinners, and bringing those who believe and are baptized into the fellowship of the local church. There the Holy Spirit will sanctify them as they worship God in spirit and truth, submitting to the teaching, and application of Scripture. Church leaders also must intercede for their people through public and private prayer, oversee the administration of the Church, lead in public worship, equip other teachers and workers within the church, superintend and enforce church discipline, and provide biblical counseling to the congregation. All of this spiritual work is to build up the saints to maturity "to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ (Eph.4:13).

Church leaders must be spiritual physicians who can capably apply biblical cures to those vices and heresies that might afflict members of the church. They also must be a tender shepherd who, while feeding the flock, also heals their wounds, calms their fears, protects them from spiritual dangers, and comforts them in their distresses. In short, church leaders are to be champions for biblical truth (2 Tim. 4:2), providers of spiritual resources (1 Peter 5:1-2), guardians and protectors (Acts 20:28-31), and always serve as models of spiritual virtue (1 Tim. 4:12). For all of this, church leaders are directly accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 13:17; James 3:1).

Even the uniquely gifted apostle Paul asked the question, "And who is adequate for these things?" (2 /Cor. 2:16). He realized that no man could effectively discharge the immense obligation of spiritual leadership by human wisdom, effort, and strength alone. He knew that only God could provide the power to be an effective leader.

In spite of the purity of Paul's life and the transforming power of his message, the enemies of the gospel were having some success in convincing the Thessalonians that Paul and his companions were men of wicked intentions, nothing more than self-seeking frauds like so many other "spiritual teachers" of that time. Therefore, as distasteful as it was for Paul to have to defend himself, he answered his detractors directly and concisely for the sake of the truth.

"For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain," (2:1)

"but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition." (2:2)

"For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit;" (2:3)

" ... but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel,... " (2:4a)

" ... so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-God is witness" (2:4b-5)

" ... nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority." (2:6)

This passage sets forth five key qualities of fail-proof spiritual leadership: tenacity, because the leader trusts totally in the power of God; integrity, because the leader is fully committed to the truth of God; authority, because the leader is commissioned by the will of God; accountability, because the leader knows the omniscient God examines his heart; and humility, because the leader is consumed with the glory of God. If he has these qualities, he will be well on his way to exercising fail-proof spiritual leadership.

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