Thursday, May 31, 2012

Biblical Pictures of the Servant Leader in the Church:
By: Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

1. A Shepherd (1 Pet 5) — The Apostle Peter calls the leaders to shepherd — tend and care for — the flock of God among them. They are to exercise oversight not under compulsion but willingly. And not for shameful gain but eagerly as proving to be examples of Christlikeness to the body of believers. Furthermore, these leaders must never dominate and lord their authority over the flock but rather they should prove to be examples to the flock. This leader, then, is one who leads, serves, feeds, tends, carries, loves, and ministers to his very own flock entrusted to His care.

2. A Watchman (Ezek 3:17) — This text reveals how God in his great wisdom called Ezekiel to be a watchman and a guard for the House of Israel. He was appointed to teach and dispense God’s truth to God’s people. Indeed, whenever Ezekiel heard a word from God, he was commissioned to warn God’s people. Thus, a watchman is a man who keeps diligent watch and at the first blush of incoming enemies he raises the battle cry and warns the people of invasion. The leader of God’s flock must see himself as a watchman — and one who proclaims the Word of God as warnings to people.

3. A Guard (Acts 20:28) — This text explicitly states that those who lead the local Church as shepherds, teachers, and students of the Word are called overseers. Part of the overseer’s responsibility rests in the duty to always be on guard against false teaching, false converts, dangerous wolves. Indeed, the greatest thing an overseer can do is care for the church of God and, as this verse reveals, one way this is accomplished is by guarding his own doctrine, life, and character in addition to those who are allotted to his care.

4. A Defender (Titus 1:9) — An essential qualification for one who holds a leadership position in the local Church is a firm defender of God’s Truth. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy word which is taught in Scripture. He must know it, be familiar with it, be acquainted with it, be daily fed from it, be regularly discipling other men from it, and be shepherding his wife and discipling his children from it. This is two sides of the same coin. He must, first, be able to give instruction in sound doctrine. That is to say, he must know doctrine — what is sound, right, accurate, and biblically supported — and know how to clearly present it. Furthermore, he must be willing, able, and competent enough to refute those who contradict this sound teaching that does not fall in accord with Scripture.

5. A Herald (Jer 11:6; Acts 13:5) — A foremost duty of OT prophets and NT apostles — and a continuing command throughout the entire NT — is for men to be heralds, that is, proclaimers of God’s Word. God appointed Jeremiah to go into all the cities of Judah and proclaim the words of the covenant of God. And in the NT, on Paul’s missionary journeys, his custom consisted of entering a city and going immediately to the synagogue and proclaiming the gospel. Thus, the man of God who leads the flock of God must be a herald of the Word of God with all passion, conviction, certainty, persuasion, urgency, compassion, and humility.

6. A Messenger (Phil 2:25; 2 Tim 2:25) — The leader in a local Church must see himself as a messenger. He is one sent by the Living God who made heaven and earth to convey a message to an audience. He cannot change the message. He must not alter, fabricate, or downplay the King’s orders. He must instruct those who oppose sound teaching so that God may, in His wisdom and power, grant repentance to the deadened sinner. When the leader in the church envisions himself as a messenger sent by God with a primary purpose of teaching, feeding, protecting and disseminating the truth of God, he embraces this responsibility and faithfully discharges his duty in the context of the local assembly.

7. A Servant (Matt 20:26; 1 Tim 4:6) — One who wants to be great must always be a servant. The path to greatness is the path of service. No one can be exalted who exalts himself. It is the true servant — not just in outward show or actions but one who serves as a joyful act of heartfelt obedience to Jesus Christ — who willingly, joyfully, frequently, and privately serves (even if no one else ever recognizes and praises him). A servant of Christ Jesus is one who faithfully points out God’s truth to the brothers. The greatest act of service can be to obey the Sovereign King of all and his commission is to appoint His Word to His people. A servant must obey his master. If not, he is an unfaithful servant and is unworthy to even be called a servant.

8. An Example (Titus 2:7; 1 Tim 4:12; Phil 3:17) — Godly leaders show themselves to be examples of good works. They model Christlikeness. In the teaching, they demonstrate integrity and dignity. The leader must always strive to be an example for the flock in life, love, faith, speech, and purity. It is this man of God who can reiterate the words of Paul to the flock to imitate him in so far as he follows Christ. This leader in the local Church can be examined, scrutinized, and subject to testing and his life will show that it is one worthy of close imitation.

9. An Instructor (2 Tim 1:11; 1 Tim 1:3) — An essential element of a leader in Christ’s church is that the man be an instructor of the Word of God. He must embrace the doctrines of the faith, the biblical gospel, and he must instruct those who are unbelieving, wayward, or apostate. These men must call folks to teach no other doctrine in the local church other than that which is true, biblical, and in accord with all of Scripture. He must teach from God’s Word. He must teach about God’s Word. He must live out God’s Word. He must declare how to instruct his children in the truth of God’s Word. He must show how to shepherd one’s wife in God’s Word. He must commit himself to the relentless task and bottomless well of prayerful study of God’s divine revelation so as to instruct others with it.

10. A Father (1 Thess 2:11) — As Paul dealt with the Thessalonian believers as a father would his own children, so every Godly leader ought to care for the flock of God with this fatherly care, concern, & love. Just as Paul exhorted, encouraged, and charged each one in the flock to live holy lives worthy of God and His election of them, so the leader of the Church must exhort, encourage, and charge every person to know Christ, pursue Christ, cherish Christ, believe in Christ, and walk obediently to Christ. Just as a father lovingly counsels and encourages his son, so this is the mindset of a leader in Christ’s church.
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