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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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.
- Leadership In and Outside the Church
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- What, precisely, do the people say they want for a
leader? (A king to lead them.)
- Does this logically follow from the concerns the
people gave in verse 5? (I don't see the logical
- 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.)
- What did God think of it? (He thought it was a
rejection of Him.)
- 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.)
- Read 1 Samuel 8:10-18. Is the problem with kings that
they charge for their services?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- Leadership Qualities
- 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
- Is everyone who wants to be a church leader qualified
to be one?
- As you look at the list of qualifications in verses 2
and 3, what kind of picture do you get?
- Do you see any qualifications that you would
question today? If so, why?
- Should time alter God's statement of
- Are these standards applied to the leaders of
- 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?
- 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.)
- Read 1 Timothy 3:4-5. What is the link between being a
good, successful parent and being a successful church
- 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.)
- Read 1 Timothy 3:6. What is the problem with selecting
recent converts as leaders?
- If someone converted long ago is still conceited,
should that person be denied a church leadership
- 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
- Why didn't Paul mention that leaders should have the
spiritual gift of leadership ( Romans 12:6-8)?
- 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
- Read 1 Timothy 3:11. Should a good leader be rejected
because of his wife?
- What practical point do you think Paul is making?
- What if the wife is the leader?
- 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?
- 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.)
- Motivating Leadership
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.