This week finds me in Anderson, Indiana, with my good friends Carl (Mac) and Lorna McMurray, where I am preaching in a meeting at the church where Mac ministers.
Our theme this week is “Spiritual Leadership: Every Believer’s Commitment to Growth.” In the business world we think of a leader as the CEO or president of the company. On a sports team the coach or manager is the leader. And in the church we consider our Elders or Shepherds as the spiritual leaders.
However, the reality is that in all of those situations there are other leaders. Businesses work to cultivate leadership in various positions, giving people titles and responsibilities. Coaches look for players to inspire and set the pace for the team. And in the church we need people who are growing spiritually and can lead by example.
The word leadership in not found in the New King James version of the Bible that I use. However, it is found once in the NASU in Numbers 33:1 and speaks of the leadership of Moses and Aaron. The NIV uses the word 4 times including Romans 12:8 and lists leadership as one of the spiritual gifts. The NLT refers to the leadership of Jahath and Obadiah in 2 Chronicles 34:12. And translates Proverbs 11:14, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls.”
The word “leader” is used over 60 times in the Bible, mainly in the Old Testament, referring to leaders among the nation of Israel.
The most basic definition of leadership is influence. Leaders are people who can exert positive influence in the lives of others. Harry Overstreet put it this way, “The very essence of all power lies in getting the other person to participate.” If you can’t get other people to participate you don’t have influence.
Those who Shepherd the church must be spiritual leaders. The qualities identified in 1 Timothy 3 speak to their influence in the home, community, and among brethren. Evangelists are to be men of good influence. Paul commanded Timothy to be “an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12).
In fact, all believers should be spiritual leaders in their various circles of influence. This is the essence of Jesus’ Mountain Message in Matthew 5:13-16.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Christians are like salt. They purify. Preserve. And add flavor. Salt influences all that it touches.
Christians are like light. Shining. Visible. Warning. Guiding. Dispelling darkness. And leading the way. Both metaphors indicate influence and thus leadership.
Our series this week will identify qualities we can develop and ways in which we can exercise spiritual leadership in a carnal world and among fellow believers. Leadership begins with integrity. It influences others with faith, hope and love. Leadership nurtures others through difficulties and navigates them through obstacles and challenges. It encourages, equips and edifies fellow believers to be better.
To the degree we can influence others and add value to their lives, we are spiritual leaders. However, remember the old leadership proverb that says, “He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman