Volume. XXIII, No. 36
Sunday, 01 March 2009


CHARACTERISTICS OF BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP


Introduction

The world generally agrees that there are certain people who are born with leadership qualities or born to lead. However, the Word of God differs from such notion. In the secular world, a leader may be placed in a position of leadership simply because he or she possesses certain natural talents, ability or leadership qualities recognized by one’s superiors or peers; but in the Christendom, leaders have to be divinely called and cultivated or prepared through time by the grace of God nurtured in the Spirit of God, not simply by recognition of certain abilities, talents or leadership qualities. What then are some of the characteristics of biblical leadership? First, a godly leader must be someone who is called of God to lead and must be prepared to serve as servant-leaders. Second, a godly leader must also love God, His Word and seek to be Spirit filled by walking in the Spirit in obedience. Lastly, a godly leader must possess due passion for the work of God and compassion and burden for the lost. We shall consider the three main points with regard to the biblical characteristics of godly leaders.

A Leader Must be Cultivated and Prepared to Serve Others

While it may be true in the corporate world that management often simply assigns and dispatches their subordinates to run errands without the need to be personally involved. However, according to the Word of God, it is different in the spiritual realm. This means, no one is called only to be a leader, but the greatest leaders should also be the greatest servants who actively serve as they lead. Spiritual leaders are first prepared by being followers and servants of others.  Just as Joshua was a follower of Moses (Exodus 17:9,10); as Elisha a follower of Elijah (1 Kings 19:21); as Peter, James, John and Paul (and other disciples of Jesus) were followers of Christ (Matthew 4:20,22); as early Christians were followers of Paul and other Apostles (Philippians 3:17; Hebrews 6:12; 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). Of course, every Christian should be most concerned about following our LORD and Saviour, Jesus Christ as the ultimate and perfect example (Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 2:5-8). Thus, before a person is called to lead, the Bible tells that God would prepare the person to learn how to be a follower of someone before he can lead others, as a servant-leader.

It is not only that every great leader must be a follower first, but they must also be faithful servants and remain so for the rest of his calling as servants of others. Did not our Lord remind us in Matthew 20:25-28, "…Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister…? This explicitly teaches us that we are all called to be servants of Jesus Christ and are to serve one another, unlike in the secular world that exercises authority upon them. Those who rule among God\'s people are to be ministers or servants to most people as our LORD said, "greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11) in God\'s church. For, even our LORD, while He was on His earthly ministry, came not be ministered but to minister (Matthew 20:28b) and as with Moses who was also the servant in the household of Israel (Hebrews 3:5)!

A Godly Leader Must Love God and be Filled by the Holy Spirit!

Having being called by God, cultivated and prepared as a leader, a leader must also possess great love for God and seek to be filled with His Spirit in order to serve Him effectively, bringing glory and honour to God. For without the love for God and the enablement and empowerment of the Holy Spirit in their lives and in the service, the leader may render all his effort in the service as vainity.

Yet, what does it mean to love God? Our Lord, quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, says that we are to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30), but what are the implications of loving God in such a manner? A person who loves God with all his heart, soul and mind should exhibit his love for the Word of God and seek to keep all the commandments. Such deportment can be observed in the lives of Moses, Joshua, Ezra, Nehemiah, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Paul, John, Peter, James, John and all the rest of the great men and women in the Bible. These saints who had been both great lovers of God and also great lovers of God\'s Holy and infallible Word, resolved to keep them above all costs throughout their lives. In other words, these who were leaders themselves among God\'s people, exhibited their love for God by studying His Word diligently (2 Timothy 2:15), mediating on them (Psalm 119:15) and resolving to keep (Ezra 7:10) them, which was what our LORD requires of us if we claim to love Him (John 14:15; Psalm 119:4). To keep God\'s commandments, one needs to read, study and meditate upon them daily, especially, if one is called to be a spiritual leader in any capacity. Only when a spiritual leader manifests his love by reading, studying and keeping God\'s Word, is he qualified to be a leader as he sets a good example for God\'s flock to follow (1 Peter 5:3). Thus, another important characteristic of a godly leader is someone who loves the LORD, and this requires his observance of the Word of God diligently as part of his calling.

What would be the natural consequences of one who loves God and abides in His Word? When a person loves God, studies and obeys His truth, he would naturally be filled with the Holy Spirit of God because he walks in the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:18-23), who is also the Spirit of Truth (1 John 4;6). When he is filled with the Spirit of God, he would be sensitive to the will of God, be dependent on the grace of God as he serves and be empowered by the Spirit of God in his service. Just as Moses under the divine inspiration rightly said, "… enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD\'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29). Note that Moses said that not only those who are chosen are fit to be leaders but also those whom \'the LORD would put His Spirit upon\' are apt to be leaders among God\'s people! The same is true for God\'s chosen priests in the Old Testament (Exodus 28:3); Joshua, the faithful servant of Moses (Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 34:9); David, the man after God\'s own heart (1 Samuel 16:13); Daniel, one who defies not himself for the sake of the LORD (Daniel 5:11); the first deacons in the early church (Acts 6:3), especially Stephen (Acts 7); they were all Spirit filled men who loved the LORD and His Word! No Christian can do anything meaningful or God honouring without the Spirit of God upon him (Ephesians 5:18). For, without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5), that is, nothing positive can come out in the service of God without Christ. Zechariah 4:6 says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts".

First, when a person who is Spirit filled, he would be self-sacrificial. Just like Moses who was prepared to take on the punishment for the disobedient Israelites (Exodus 32:32); or Paul who endured all things for the elect\'s sakes (2 Timothy 2:10) so that some may be saved; or willingness to mind others needs or to show concern for others by offering help voluntarily (Philippians 2:4), not just verbally or superficially (James 2:15,16). Leaders who are Spirit filled are willing to make sacrifices for their flock, either spiritually or even physically. Second, a Spirit filled leader would also exhibit self-denial. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24). This implies that such persons would never seek any recognition of man but always render glory to Christ for all the tasks or accomplishments that God enabled him (Philippians 1:21) as a self-less and humble servant. This also means that there should be no arrogance or pride to be found in his demeanour or speech, but exhibiting only spirit of humility, obedience and submission before God and man (Matthew 11:29; 1 Peter 5:5,6; Proverbs 29:23) as examples to others, for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).  Therefore, it is pivotal that a leader should love God, study His word and keep them, as the result of this, one may be filled with His Spirit, prepared and empowered in the service as godly leaders.

A Godly Leader Must Possess Passion for God\'s Work and Compassion for the Lost!

Lastly, but not the least, a godly leader must also possess great passion or zeal for God\'s work and compassion for the lost. A person can be called and prepared and ready to serve, but if one does not possess passion for God\'s work and the compassion for the lost, it is futile if he possess no genuine motive for service, but just out of sheer duty.

Again, we can observe the lives of all the great men and women in the Bible who not only love God, are Spirit filled and ready to serve but they also possess great passion or zeal for God\'s work such as Moses, Joshua, David, Caleb, Elijah, Ezra, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and all the prophets, and the Apostles and many disciples of our LORD.  What are the implications of being passionate and zealous for the work of the LORD as a leader? First, such persons are ones who are self-motivated and not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit (Romans 12:11; Galatians 1:14), zealous of good works (Titus 2:14). Second, he who is passionate for the service of God also means that he is committed to serve because he knows that it is a reasonable service to the LORD (Romans 12:1) and a calling (1 Peter 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:1; 2 Corinthians 9:8), that is, he is willing to sacrifice his time, energy and resources voluntarily without reservation for the sake of his Master and Lord (Luke 5:11; 9:23).

How about compassion for the lost? All of us who are saved are called to imitate Christ\'s example, not just the leaders. When our Lord saw the multitude in Matthew 9, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:36). The Lord was not simply caring for their physical needs, but He saw them as lost sheep; that was what prompted his compassion as spiritual harvest are ready (Matthew 9:37,38). If the LORD said that he came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), should we not all the more be motivated with compassion to seek and save the lost by reaching out to sinners in anyway we can with every resource we have? Or, perhaps, you do not realize the seriousness of what awaits each of us when we meet Christ face to face and the seriousness of giving an account before Him? Realizing such grave responsibility and burden in his calling as an Apostle, Paul cried out, "woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16). Are we not all called to preach the Word? Yes! For, the great commission is not just reserved for those who stand behind the pulpit, elders and missionaries or those who have undergone theological training, but for every obedient child of God to the Great Commission. Some may say, "the time is just not right, may be I shall wait a while," but Paul said, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season" (2 Timothy 4:2). Others may argue, "It is up to God to save the lost, so there is nothing much we could do." Then what is the use of Paul, Peter, James, John and even our LORD proclaiming the gospel during their days? Paul said, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14). Is not the preaching of the cross the power of God unto salvation? (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is often a misunderstanding of our Arminian brethren that label reformed and Calvinistic churches as churches that never evangelize. We need to correct that false impression of our reformed faith and need to be more actively involved in the evangelistic outreach to the saving of souls as we are to go and share the gospel and pray for the conversion of sinners or encourage others to go, peradventure, God may save some according to His sovereign will and His mercy.

Conclusion

Therefore, a godly leader must be someone who is divinely called and prepared to serve as a servant leader. As a leader, he must love God and His Word and endeavor to abide in them in order to walk in the Spirit of God and be filled by Him. He must also possess passion for the work of God and passion for the lost by actively engaging in the saving of souls and praying for their conversion. May God help us.

Pastor David Weng 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements

Kitchen Rosters - Team Leader: Sis Lydia Fan.

Hope B-P Chinese Fellowship officially starts on Sat, 7 March. Invites are on the literature table. If you can help please let Ps Weng know.

“Last day”: Any donation for the victims & those who lost their loved ones in the Victorian Bushfire is welcome. Your generosity is appreciated.

Bible Witness - Please help yourself to a copy.

Non-monetary donations to church are always welcome. However, please show your deep reverence and fear for God by giving Him your new and the best.

 

Looking Ahead

Family Bible Conference at Easter, 10-13 April 2009.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Bro Joseph Selvanayagam, Sisters Amanda Tan & Serene Wong (Adl); &  all others who have travelled.

Church activities: AFG Bible Study; E-Ministry; Ladies’ Share & Prayer; Men’s Breakfast Meeting; Shorter Catechism Class; Wed Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; YAF Welcome Night & Working Bees.

O-Week at Uni Adelaide: Organisers & students reached.

 

Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Peter Clements,  Rev Stephen Khoo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Yew Shing Chan, Colin Creaser, S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Yeom. Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Lai Kheng Cheong (Marion’s mother), Nita Chong, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Piah Buey Yeo & others in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia: (Bro Surish Dharmalingam’s ministry - Siem Pang, Preacher Zhang - Kampot), Pastors & believers in Laos, Pakistan & India; Kuching Ministry (Teo family).

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pastor Ki: future ministry & his family.

Journey Mercies: Bro Barry Palm (Adl); Mrs. May Loh (S’pore); Sisters Smrithi George (Melb); Judy Li & Juanita Tong (Adl); & all others who are travelling.

Pastor Weng: ministry & family in Hope BPC. Message preparations for Ebenezer BPC’s Family Bible Camp at Easter.

Outreach to Mandarin speakers in Adelaide.

Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Tabitha Heah, Judy Li & Angie Yuen.

BPCWA (Perth) - God’s guidance & wisdom.

Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe (Perth) -  Wisdom and guidance.

Rev & Mrs Patrick Tan - preparation for Easter Bible Conference

Continuing Victorian Bushfire: cooler weather & rain to control the raging fires.

Bro Barry Palm & Sis Juanita Tong - wedding in March.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063