Spiritual Leaders

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I pray that the love of God demonstrated through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ will remind you of how much you have been given and will provoke your heart to purity and praise throughout this day. Well, it looks like we may finally close on the sale of our home in West Virginia today. Amy and I remain hopeful that all will actually go through as we look forward with the anticipation of being one step closer to setting concrete roots in the Bowie area. While this is exciting news for us I want you to know that my heart has been full and moved by thoughts surrounding the installation service this weekend. What an undeserved privilege is ours to be part of Christ’s Church, to be personally placed into His Body, and to be purposefully called by Him to serve His family for the glory of His name. Yet, it is the reality of both the amazing opportunity and the tremendous responsibility of being your pastor that humbles my heart and rightfully makes me tremble at the thought (Isa 66:2). Therefore, I want to share with you a few biblical truths concerning the critical nature of spiritual leaders and what God requires for both them as well as those they have been called to lead.

First, spiritual leaders are part of God’s plan in leading His people and therefore undeniably necessary for edification, purification, and protection (Heb 13:17). This truth is substantiated continually throughout the Scriptures as seen in the lives of godly leaders like Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Ezra, and the myriad of prophets that God graciously brought to His people. Furthermore, the New Testament makes it lucidly clear that elders, pastors, and godly leaders are not simply an addendum to the church but a critical component to the vitality and validity of her mission in the world (Acts 14:23; 16:4-5; 1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian elders has always been a favorite passage of mine, for multiple reasons, as it dramatically displays the serious need for having spiritual leaders in and over our lives (Acts 20:17-38). As I consider the critical nature of my calling by God to be a spiritual leader in His Church I am greatly humbled by my inadequacy and inability for the task, which drives me to my next point.

Secondly, spiritual leaders must be totally dependent upon the Scriptures because they are utterly accountable and responsible to God (1 Pet 5:1-4). The insufficiency and incapacity of every spiritual leader in and of themselves is another undeniable biblical truth that must drive every elder and pastor to His knees as they sit in total dependence on God’s wisdom in fulfilling God’s will. This is why Paul repeatedly exhorted Timothy to study, read, preach, defend, explain, teach, trust, and live by the Word of God (1 Tim 4:11-15; 2 Tim 4:1-5). Therefore, the declaration of and subservience to Scriptures must be the priority for every spiritual leader as they guide and guard God’s people, not by their own ingenuity and intelligence, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Acts 20:26-32). Thus, as I further consider this calling upon my life I tremble at the thought of having to give an account to the Great Shepherd (Heb 13:17; Js 3:1; 1 Pet 5:4), especially, if I am found serving in my own strength and leading people according to my ways. Just another reason why the Word will be, and must be, the guide for all that we seek to be and do for our God.

Lastly, spiritual leaders must be listened to, supported, and followed as they sacrificially shepherd in the footsteps of Christ and in accordance with His Word (Heb 13:17). The fact that God put so many examples and teachings on leadership in the Bible demands that we give thought to the necessity of following those who lead (Heb 13:7). Sadly, Scripture and history itself is replete with stories of disasters that were brought upon people who either failed to heed godly leaders or chose to listen to ungodly voices. This is why there are direct commands in Scripture given to the church concerning the importance of following the spiritual leaders God has put into and over our lives (1 Thess 5:12-13; 1 Tim 5:17-18; Heb 13:17; 1 Pet 5:5). However, if we are honest, all of us have been spiritually impacted by the plague of independence and personal rights that permeates our world. And thus, we need to consistently recalibrate our minds through focusing on the person and work of the greatest leader and follower of all time, Jesus Christ. He did not consider His equality with God something to hold on to (Phil 2:1-10) but willingly and joyfully set it all aside to follow the will of His Father, and in so doing has become the Author, Leader, and Head of the Church (Col 1:18). What a beautiful picture Christ gives of what it looks like to be a leader as well as a follower. I hope as you prepare your heart for the installation service on Sunday you will take time to consider my responsibility as one of your spiritual leaders and continue to pray for me as well as contemplate your role as it relates to your spiritual leaders graciously given to you by Christ.

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