3 22-30 Three Traits Of A Good Church Leader
liberty bible church 1/20/08 a.M.
By Tom Zobrist
“three traits of a good church leader”
Illus. of “Lunch Break” All morning, an instructor on my staff had been explaining leadership to a class of police recruits. Calling a man to the front of the class, he handed him a piece of paper on which was written: “You are in charge. Get everyone out of the room without causing a panic.” The recruit was at a loss for words and returned to his seat. The second man summoned tried: “Everybody outside. Go!” No one moved. A third man glanced at the instructions, smiled and said, “All right, men. Break for lunch.” The room emptied in seconds.
There has been a lot of information published on leadership; good leadership and bad. All sorts of examples and lists of what makes good leaders. The military, corporations, and other secular institutions place a great deal of emphasis on the right type of leadership and they train their people to fit these molds. Even the Bible has qualifications listed in 1 Timothy and Titus for both elders and deacons for the local church; but, rarely do we see them used when choosing leaders. And even so, qualifications can only go so far. There are some other traits that must be evident in tandem with these qualifications to really produce the type of leadership that we see in our passage today; leadership that is rare indeed in a world where church success is measured by counting noses and dollar signs. What are these traits that are necessary in the church today and who do we see exhibit them?
OPEN to passage.
Prop. In this passage, we see three traits that are needed in the local church today.
Open in PRAYER.
PREVIEW the passage. We are in the early part of Jesus’ earthly ministry. With the advent of His work, there is some apparent conflict with others that had been working in this region. It’s from this so-called dispute that we see these traits evident in the life of John the Baptist. What are they? Trait #1.
i. a good church leader has unwavering determination vs. 22-24
Illus. of someone asked me when we were planning our first building if we should be doing that since it looked like Jesus was coming back soon. That was almost 20 years ago and now we are planning another building.
We work and keep doing what God called us to do until He stops us. That’s what we see here.
a. Jesus’ ministry is picking up steam
V 22a 1. After Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, His ministry continued to grow in the Judean country. Although most of His ministry would be in the north, His offer of the Kingdom was started in Judea, until the Pharisees put pressure on Him. Cf. 4:4:1-3
V 22b 2. Jesus stayed with His disciples while they baptized these new followers. Cf. John 4:2 indicates that Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples did. Whether this was a baptism of repentance or a believers’ baptism, we’re not told. At this point, exactly who Jesus was didn’t register with the general populace; however, the Jews practiced all sorts of ceremonial washings, so baptisms were common. Jesus and John were set apart by the large followings that they had. One problem some saw was…
b. John’s ministry was also still needed
V 23a 1. Exactly where this was, we’re not sure. It would have been in northern Judea between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, near Shechem. They needed much water because they practiced some sort of emersion. They went into the water.
V 23b 2. John too continued to baptize large numbers, though it was less than Jesus. Two reformed movements were very popular in this small region, something that alarmed the religious leaders and others that we’ll see as well.
V 24 3. John had not yet been arrested and thrown into prison. We see here how this Gospel compliments the others. It assumed that the readers here already knew what had happened to John, from reading other accounts or from word of mouth.
4. What’s important to remember here is that John did not retire after he baptized Jesus and ordained Him, as it were. He kept preaching, confronting sin, pointing to Jesus, right up until the end. When God wanted His ministry to end, it ended. But, he was determined to finish strong until the very end.
Trans. GOOD LEADERS NEED UNWAVERING DETERMINATION. Second…
ii. a good church leader is unwavering in disputes vs. 25-26
Illus. of “If God Were Alive” A long-time member of a church scolded their new pastor for his radical ideas and proposed changes. “Reverend, if God were alive today, He would be shocked at the changes in this church.” Change is only one issue that causes disputes in the church. There is sin that needs to be confronted, there are personality conflicts, marriage conflicts, and a host of other issues that can cause disputes. A good leader must be unwavering when faced with these issues. We see that in John’s ministry here.
a. john is faced with theological disputes
V 25 1. For quite some time, John and his disciples had experienced a certain level of success, at least from a human point of view. Not that John cared about that, but his disciples appeared to here.
2. At this juncture, there is a dispute with some Jews over John’s baptism. Why should they follow John. The Pharisees practiced purification and other types of ceremonial washings. And Jesus too was involved in this ministry. Why should John be followed? What makes him right? Illus. of how ministries and churches compete for the attention of people. It’s no longer what can I do for the church, but what can the church do for me? It’s not really John that is dealing with this, but his disciples and they weren’t equipped to handle the theological dispute. So…
b. john is faced with dissatisfied followers
V 26 1. John’s disciples become frustrated and angry and jealous of their apparent failure in ministry. “That guy you testified of, everyone is going to him now.” They were not committed to Jesus, they were committed to their own ministry, not to what God was doing. But, John was. He wasn’t caught up in these petty disputes. He wasn’t worried about himself. He wanted God’s Kingdom to be furthered at whatever the cost.
2. John’s disciples though wanted it to be the way it used to be; when we were #1. But, John was unwavering in his handling of this dispute. Good church leaders must be the same. They can see the big picture as John did, unlike many of their followers.
Trans. GOOD LEADERS NEED UNWAVERING DETERMINATION and THEY NEED TO BE UNWAVERING WHEN FACING DISPUTES. What does that mean? What does John do? That brings us to our last trait.
iii. a good church leader has unwavering doctrine vs. 27-30
Illus. of when we fall into the trap of pleasing people, we will stop confronting disputes and we will waver in our doctrine. John does the opposite. He corrects the dispute by teaching right doctrine.
A. Ministry blessings don’t come from men
V 27 1. God gives to each one what He sovereignly ordains. Jesus’ ministry was growing and John’s was waning because this was the will of God. John knew that and so did Jesus. But, John’s disciples were struggling with the concept. Illus. of many ministries today try to promote themselves and create their own greatness. Many compromise truth and end in scandal and sin because it was not ordained of God. Big does not mean blessed! Yet, many times that’s how we judge.
V 28 2. John reminds them of what he had told them about Jesus all along. They had heard him say it. He now just reminds them of the truth he had shared with them before. Illus. of sometimes when we get discouraged, we just need to be reminded of the Truth of God’s Word. John does that. John is not the Messiah; he is the forerunner. Jesus is the one that needs to be followed.
b. John’s joy came from god
V 29a 1. John uses an illustration of how God had fulfilled his joy in Jesus. They didn’t need to be jealous. He uses the current day marriage custom to illustrate this truth. The friend of the groom we would call him the best man. The groom owns the bride. The best man looks after her and cares for the details of the wedding so that the groom can prepare for the wedding himself. At the right time, the groom comes and when the friend hears his voice, he knows that the celebration is at hand. He then rejoices with the groom.
V 29b 2. John was just preparing the way for the Messiah as the best man prepares for the groom to come to the wedding. As the friend rejoices, so John rejoices at the coming of Jesus. John baptized with water, but Jesus will baptize with the HS. Cf. John 1:33
V 30 3. In light of this, Jesus must become greater and John must decrease. This was the plan of God. This was nothing to be discouraged, or jealous, or angry about. This was Gods divine plan and so John rejoiced. Unwavering doctrine is something for which we can rejoice because no matter how unstable the world or the rest of the church, the Truth stands.
John was a great leader because he had UNWAVERING DETERMINATION, he was UNWAVERING WHEN FACING DISPUTES and he had UNWAVERING DOCTRINE which he used to correct those followers who were locked in ungodly disputes with believers and unbelievers alike. These traits benefit us all, not just leaders. Leaders need them, but so do we all. How do they look?
1. We are humble. This begins with salvation. GOSPEL
2. We are hard working. We serve God with purity and passion that is not self-centered or focused on earthly results.
3. We are not afraid to stand alone. Popularity is not where we should desire to be. Pure doctrine will put us in the minority.
4. Everything we do should point to Jesus, as did John. It’s about His greatness, not ours.
Illus. of S.M. Lockridge “My King” video.
Our desire should be to elevate the King of Kings. With unwavering determination, unwavering doctrine, and unwavering in the face of disputes, we represent Jesus, not ourselves. The church needs men and women who want to lead this way; from elders to church cleaners, we need that zeal. That is success. That is serving Jesus Christ.
“three traits of a good church leader”
In this passage, we see three traits that are needed in the local church today.
i. unwavering vs. 22-24
a. Jesus’ ministry is picking up steam
Cf. John 4:4:1-3
b. John’s ministry was…
ii. unwavering in vs. 25-26
a. john is faced with ___________________ disputes
b. john is faced with ________________ followers
iii. unwavering vs. 27-30
A. Ministry blessings don’t come from ________
b. John’s joy came from ____________________
Cf. John 1:33
These traits benefit _____________ _______________, not just leaders. Leaders need them, but so do we all. How do they look?