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Spiritual Leaders


Leadership and Judgment

Two men once robbed a jewelry store. One was a lawyer and the other was a high-school dropout. After being arrested, convicted, and sentenced, the lawyer received a ten-year imprisonment. The dropout received three years. The counselors for the lawyer protested the harsh judgment but the judge insisted that the lawyer was under greater responsibility to be an example of the law.

In like manner are church leaders under a greater responsibility to be living examples of the Lord Jesus Christ. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Leadership by Example

Shepherds of God’s flock are not to lord it over the flock, but to prove to be examples. They are to lead by their example. This is graphically illustrated in the U.S. Army. The symbol of the infantry (footsoldiers who do most of the front-line fighting) is a soldier with a rifle in one hand, helmet cocked, and head looking back behind him. The rifle is pointing forward, the other arm is giving a “Come on ahead” motion, and the leader is shouting back, “Follow me!” This symbol illustrates leadership-by-example, as this soldier calls his men to follow him into the heart of the battle. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



True leaders always rise to the top, especially in difficult times. They are like beans in a jar of peas. When you place peas and beans in a jar and shake them up vigorously, the peas always settle to the bottom while the beans always come to the top.

So it is with godly men. They can never be held down when shaken up. If they truly have leadership abilities and a love for God, they will always rise to the top. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



At one time Andrew Carnegie was the wealthiest man in America. He came to America from his native Scotland when he was a small boy, did a variety of odd jobs, and eventually ended up as the largest steel manufacturer in the United States. At one time he had forty-three millionaires working for him. In those days a millionaire was a rare person; conservatively speaking, a million dollars in his day would be equivalent to at least twenty million dollars today.

A reporter asked Carnegie how he had hired forty-three millionaires. Carnegie responded that those men had not been millionaires when they started working for him but had become millionaires as a result.

The reporter's next question was, "How did you develop these men to becomes so valuable to you that you have paid them this much money?" Carnegie replied that men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold; but one doesn't go into the mine looking for dirt - one goes in looking for the gold.

That's exactly the way we pastors need to view our people. Don't look for the flaws, warts, and blemishes. Look for the gold, not for the dirt; the good, not the bad. Look for the positive aspects of life. Like everything else, the more good qualities we look for in our people, the more good qualities we are going to find.── Source Unknown.



Bruce Larson, in his book Wind and Fire, points out some interesting facts about sandhill cranes:

"These large birds, who fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out in front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence. And then, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation.

That's not a bad model for the church. Certainly we need leaders who can handle turbulence and who are aware that leadership ought to be shared. But most of all, we need a church where we are all honking encouragement." ── Bruce Larson, Wind and Fire.



It's those stately geese I find especially impressive. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of miles before reaching their destination. Have you ever studied why they fly as they do? It is fascinating to read what has been discovered about their flight pattern as well as their in-flight habits. Four come to mind. 

1. Those in front rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies point.

2. By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. One author states that by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71 percent greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own. 

3. When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the struggler until it's able to fly again. 

4. The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it's their way of announcing that they're following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it. 

As I think about all this, one lesson stands out above all others: it is the natural instinct of geese to work together. Whether it's rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in it together...which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do. ── Chuck Swindoll, letter, October, 1991.



Perhaps you have heard the geese honking as they fly northward in a "V" formation. They head toward the grain fields of Canada and Alaska to spend the summer. Two engineers calibrated in a wind tunnel why geese fly in formation. Each goose, flapping its wings, creates an uplift for the goose that follows. The whole flock gains 71% greater flying range than if they journeyed alone. That's why the leader of the "V" formation falls back periodically to let another leader take the point, and why the rest stay in line. It is rough to be a leader. Even in a flock of geese, leadership is a shared responsibility. Every disciple, at one time or another, is called to "take the point."── Source Unknown.



Cal Thomas found himself called a "Christian leader" by a leading Christian magazine and he wondered what that meant. More speaking engagements? Perhaps an appearance on a Christian talk show?

"It would certainly give me the right to start putting Scripture references under my signed name in books I have written. I would surely sign more Bibles, which I find a curious practice since I didn't write that Book."

Thomas wonders if we have reversed things. God's strength is made perfect in weakness. "In a church I once attended, there was a man of tremendous faith. His wife is an alcoholic, His daughter has psychological problems. He was often poor in health. Yet, week after week, he never complained. He always smiled and asked me how I was doing. He faithfully brought to church a young blind man who had no transportation. He always sat with the blind man, helping him sing the hymns by saying the words into his ear. That man was a `Christian leader' if ever there was one." ── "Dear God, Please Don't Let Me Be a Christian Leader," Fundamentalist Journal.



There is a new leader for Atlanta's Roman Catholic community, Bishop James Lyke, and he is calling for a renewal and revival of the church which locally has been rocked by a sex scandal. More than a third of Roman Catholic Priests in the United States are sexually active. The American Psychological Association meeting in Boston hears of Johns Hopkins' research indicating that 20 percent of priests are heterosexual, 10-13 percent homosexual, and 6 percent involved sexually with minors. This 25 year study, by the way, was conducted by Richard Sight, who left the priesthood to marry. Catholic officials say that his study is not scientific. ── Associated Press, August 13, 1990.



Stay one step ahead of your people and you are called a leader. Stay ten steps ahead of your people and you are called a martyr! ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



In this Age of Self, the language is filled with phrases that glorify personal choice above all other values: self-determination, self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-help even do-it-yourself. In this climate, no doctrine is safe, no dictate accepted without scrutiny....The touchstone of belief today is the individual, not the institution. Priests., like precinct captains, have lost authority. The same voters who talk back to their political leaders on call-in shows and town meetings are talking back to their religious leaders at parish council meetings and Communion breakfasts. While 85 percent of American Catholics look up to the pope as a moral leader, 4 out of 5 say they follow their own conscience, rather than papal authority, on moral questions...The phrase "cafeteria Catholics" describes those who pick and choose among church teachings. But in religion, as in politics, the more appropriate analogy for modern mores is to fast food rather than to cafeterias; as the slogan for one hamburger chain puts it: "Have it your way."...How do leaders lead when followers don't want to be led?── Steven V. Roberts, "Leading the Faithful in an Age of Dissent," U.S. News and World Report, August 23, 1993, p. 6.



Myron Rush identifies tough issues facing every Christian leader in The New Leader. We are wise to ponder them slowly.

- You must be willing to stand alone.

- You must be willing to go against public opinion in order to promote what you believe.

- You must be willing to risk failure.

- You must become master of your emotions.

- You must strive to remain above reproach.

- You must be willing to make decisions others don't want to make.

- You must be willing to say no at times, even when you'd like to say yes.

- You must sometimes be willing to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the group.

- You must never be content with the average; you must always strive for the best.

- People must be more important to you than possessions.

- You will have to work harder to keep your life in balance than people do who are not leaders.

── Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, pp. 177-178.



The world needs leaders...

who cannot be bought;

whose word is their promise;

who put character above wealth;

who possess opinions and a will;

who are larger than their vocations;

who do not hesitate to take chances;

who will not lose their individuality in a crowd;

who will be honest in small things as well as in great things;

who will make no compromise with wrong;

whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;

who will not say they do it "because everybody else does it";

who are true to their friends through good report and

evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity;

who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and

hardheadedness are the best qualities for winning success;

who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth

when it is unpopular, who can say no with emphasis,

although the rest of the world says yes.

── Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, pp. 19-20.



Don't take a position of leadership in church unless you are prepared to be honest, pure, and loving in your lifestyle. Leadership is a privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility. God holds teachers of His truth doubly responsible because we who lead are in a position where we can either draw people toward Christ or drive them away from Him. This is illustrated in the life of the famous author Mark Twain. 

Church leaders were largely to blame for his becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching and poor example of church leaders that he became bitter toward the things of God.

Indeed, it is a privilege to be an elder, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, or a Bible club leader. But it is also an awesome responsibility. Let's make sure we attract people to the Savior rather than turn them away.── Source Unknown.



Leadership in the local church should be determined by spirituality, not notoriety.── Tony Evans.



The following principles of leadership emerge from biblical teaching:

1. Christian leaders should be certain that their goal is to serve God and others, not to receive the title or honor that comes with leadership.

2. Leaders should not use their position for their own advantage or comfort. No task should be "beneath" them--although some tasks may be delegated. They should not ask others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves.

3. Leaders will seek to distinguish their own preferences from the will and welfare of the group as a whole.

4. Normally the position should seek the leader. There may be some situations in which persons may apply or volunteer. Nevertheless, when someone strongly desires a particular responsibility, his or her motivation should be carefully examined.

5. We must learn to see each other as valuable to the Lord and basically equal in his sight.

── Millard J. Erickson, The Standard, May, 1982.