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Lesson 12: Supporting Our Leaders *

Introduction: We naturally think that any successful organization has leadership. Is this also true for the church? If so, what kind of leaders should they be? Should the leaders of the church model themselves after leaders of the world? Leaders of industry? Does the church need leaders at all? Isn't Jesus the only leader we need? Let's jump into our study and find out what the Bible teaches us about leadership in the church.

  1. Leadership In and Outside the Church

    1. Read 1 Samuel 8:1-5. Think back over what you remember about Samuel's life. What kind of leader was he? (Samuel was a great leader.)

      1. Would you call Samuel a typical leader? (Samuel was a prophet. A prophet was a spokesman for God. Thus, he was not a leader in the traditional sense. Normally, leaders are not spokespersons for someone else.)

      2. Notice that the people want a new leader. What reasons do they give for seeking new leadership? (Samuel is old. He sons are not qualified replacements because they have not followed God.)

      3. What, precisely, do the people say they want for a leader? (A king to lead them.)

        1. Does this logically follow from the concerns the people gave in verse 5? (I don't see the logical link.)

    2. Read 1 Samuel 8:6-9. Why was Samuel unhappy to hear the people ask for a king? (He thought it was a personal rejection of his leadership.)

      1. What did God think of it? (He thought it was a rejection of Him.)

      2. What was wrong with asking for a king? Isn't organization good? (These verses highlight the difference between God's leadership goals and the world's leadership goals. God wants leaders who speak for Him. The people had repeatedly turned to the gods of their own choosing.)

    3. Read 1 Samuel 8:10-18. Is the problem with kings that they charge for their services?

      1. What do you see as the most important argument God gives Samuel against having a king? (The king will act in his own best interest. God acts in the interest of His people.)

    4. Read 1 Samuel 8:19-20. What do we now find is the real reason the people want a king? (They want to be like the world! It really has nothing to do with Samuel.)

    5. Are there lessons in these verses that would apply to church leadership today? (God avoids human leaders that put themselves first. The model of worldly leaders is not the model God is looking for in the church. God prefers leaders who speak for Him. Our goal is to make God our true leader.)

    6. Last week we studied the request made by the mother of James and John to make them the top leaders in Jesus' kingdom. Let's read again the part of the story which describes Jesus' view of leadership in the church. Read Matthew 20:25-28. What kind of leader does Jesus describe? (A servant leader.)

    7. Can you draw lines between God's argument against having a king for a leader in 1 Samuel 8 and Jesus' description of the proper leader in Matthew 20? (They seem to fit perfectly. In 1 Samuel 8 we read what is wrong with earthly kings (that they take for themselves) and in Matthew 20 we read what is right with spiritual leaders (that they serve others). Comparing the two, we get a picture of what God has in mind for church leaders. Church leaders should not take for themselves, they should serve others.)

      1. Does this mean that church leaders should not get paid for their work? (Read Matthew 10:9-10. When Jesus sent out his disciples He expected that those they helped would in turn financially support them. See also, Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:7-11.)

  2. Leadership Qualities

    1. So far we have been looking at the kind of general attitude we need in church leaders. Let's turn now to some specific qualities. Read 1 Timothy 3:1-3. In the past I thought I should avoid voting for myself for a church leadership position. What does 1 Timothy 3:1 suggest about wanting to become a church leader? (It suggests this desire is just fine. Nothing wrong with it. It is a noble task.)

      1. Is everyone who wants to be a church leader qualified to be one?

      2. As you look at the list of qualifications in verses 2 and 3, what kind of picture do you get?

        1. Do you see any qualifications that you would question today? If so, why?

          1. Should time alter God's statement of qualifications?

        2. Are these standards applied to the leaders of your church?

        3. Notice that the leadership position here is the "overseer" (KJV-"Bishop") which literally means "the visitor" or "inspector." Does this seem like a description of local church leadership?

          1. If not, then must our local church leaders conform to all of these requirements? (This is not a local leader. But, it logically follows that the more of these qualities a local leader possesses, the better it is.)

    2. Read 1 Timothy 3:4-5. What is the link between being a good, successful parent and being a successful church leader?

      1. How do you explain that Samuel was a great leader of Israel, yet we learned earlier ( 1 Samuel 8:3)that his sons did not "walk in his ways?" (Perhaps the story of Samuel reinforces the point: the people would not have been so anxious to turn to a king if Samuel's sons were honest, spiritual, competent leaders. God downplays this issue, however, in His discussion about this with Samuel. 1 Samuel 8:7-8.)

    3. Read 1 Timothy 3:6. What is the problem with selecting recent converts as leaders?

      1. If someone converted long ago is still conceited, should that person be denied a church leadership position?

    4. Read 1 Timothy 3:7. Our leaders need to have a good reputation outside the church. Why? (Paul seems to say that what we do outside of church, what we do in our business dealings, is an important indicator of whether we will ultimately fall into disgrace and thus disgrace the church.)

    5. Why didn't Paul mention that leaders should have the spiritual gift of leadership ( Romans 12:6-8)?

    6. Read 1 Timothy 3:8-9. We think of deacons as church leaders who handle more practical tasks. (See Acts 6:2-4.) However, the Greek term translated "deacon" in 1 Timothy 3:8 is the same Greek term used in Matthew 20:26 (Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant [deacon].) How do these qualifications for what seem to be local leaders compare with the qualifications for an "overseer?" (They have the same "feel," but a shorter list.)

    7. Read 1 Timothy 3:11. Should a good leader be rejected because of his wife?

      1. What practical point do you think Paul is making?

      2. What if the wife is the leader?

    8. Read 1 Timothy 3:12. Here are some more qualifications for a local church leader. When it refers to "one wife," does that mean "one wife at a time?" Or, should our local church leaders be married only once and to the same wife?

    1. Titus 1:7-8 states the qualifications for an overseer that are similar to those listed in 1 Timothy 3. Read Titus 1:9 for a point not made in Timothy 3. As you consider church leadership, how important is it for leaders to refute those who oppose sound doctrine? (The qualities we have been looking at so far seem to be "emotional intelligence" and spirituality. Titus adds that our leaders need to be able to defend what they believe.)

  1. Motivating Leadership

    1. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-2. Paul is giving Timothy (a leader)a motivational talk. What should motivate church leaders, according to Paul? (Church leaders need to keep in mind that Jesus is coming again! He is going to execute judgment on the wicked and He is going to establish His kingdom. This is at the heart of the end time message of the three angels. The first angel declares that the time of judgment has come! Revelation 14:6-7.)

    2. Read 2 Timothy 4:3-5. Paul says a time will come when people will turn to "Bible teachers" who only teach the myths the people want to hear. Has that time come?

      1. What can we do to counteract that? (Not only pray for our leaders and teachers, but pray that the Holy Spirit will move on the hearts of those who listen.)

    3. Friend, would you like to be a church leader? We have studied the qualifications. Set your heart on your goal, and ask God to create those qualities in your life. This will not only prepare you to become a church leader, but it will help you to be a positive support for the current leaders.

  2. Next week: Embracing the World.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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