Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Biblical Leadership Ladder

Preached at Community Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, September 29, 2013

Acts 1:15-26, “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”
18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘Let his dwelling place be desolate,
And let no one live in it’;
‘Let another take his office.’
21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

One of the subjects that has become increasingly dear to my heart is the subject of leadership.  As a man, a husband of more than thirty years, a father of several grown children, and certainly as a minister; indeed, leadership SHOULD BE all important to me!  In fact, I can’t think of a subject having more practical importance for marriages, family relationships and for the church than the subject of leadership. 

Interestingly, in our flow of church events, we are nearing that time when leaders are to be nominated, evaluated and elected.  Beloved, this is a strategic moment in the life of Community Christian Church.  Interestingly, at this strategic moment, we also come to our study of this passage, a text that has to do with leadership selection.

I know that we have walked up and down this portion of Scripture a couple of times already.  And, hopefully, by now, a few of those 5 or 6 ‘sticky notes’ have stuck!  The Eleven Waiting, the Believer’s Praying, the Brethren Meeting, the Apostles’ Defining, and the Betrayer’s Sinning.  You remember then, don’t you?  Those 5 or 6 three-word phrases kind of summarize much of what this text has to show us and teach us.  However, perhaps the biggest lesson or lessons to be derived from this passage are the ones I want us to grasp today: the lessons that have to do with the subject of leadership. 

Before I move along with you on this trek up the leadership ladder, allow me to give you one, simple, one-word definition of the word ‘Leadership’.  Leadership: what is it?  Well, in a word, leadership is INFLUENCE.  Leadership, whether it be godly or ungodly, Biblical or un-Biblical, righteous or unrighteous, those who are the leaders are the ones who have the influence.  Not necessarily the ones in the POSITION of influence, the OFFICE holders, if you will.  But, the ones whose words and viewpoints hold sway.  They are the LEADERS. 

Now, saying all of that makes me think, first, of Judas, Jesus’ betrayer.  More than one passage in the New Testament, including this one here, lists him among the ‘Office Holders,’ among the hand-picked followers of Jesus, the 12 Disciples, the ones who were in training to be the human leaders of Jesus’ church – the 12 apostles!  And, one passage, I believe it’s John 12:4-6, indicates that Judas also was entrusted with the ‘Bank Bag’.  We might say he was the ‘Church Treasurer’.  He was in a position of influence. 

Question: Did Judas use that position to influence?  And, next question: In what WAY did he use that position.  Or, we might say, how, in what direction, did he exercise his influence?  Think both of those questions over for a minute, while I prepare to point you to the text.  Acts 1:16-17 – Look again at what the text says about this man, this office holder, this person, Judas Iscariot, who, at least, SAT in a position of influence.  Verse 17 – Peter, speaking to the rest of the group of about 120, reminds them that Judas was “numbered with us,” that is, he was counted among that select group of 12 whom Jesus called to follow Him.  And, Peter also points out that the lot to take part in the Apostolic ministry fell to Judas as well. 

But, let me ask you: How many of you would want to have Judas as one of your elders?  How many of you would want Jesus’ betrayer to have charge of CCC’s money bag or to be overseeing the monthly board meetings? 

You see, Judas was a leader, alright!  But, take a look at how he used that leadership influence.  Verse 16 – The verse says that he “became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.”  Literally, the text indicates that Judas was their LEADER!  He was the LEADER of the posse sent to Gethsemane to seize Jesus and take Him away to the Chief Priest, the Scribes and the Pharisees. 

Beloved, do you see it?  Leaders influence.  The question is, in what way, toward what direction, do they influence?  Speaking of direction, take a look at verses 24 and 25 with me for a moment, and note how it spells out the OUTCOME of Judas’ leadership, or, we might say, the PLACE in which Judas’ leadership decisions and direction ended up! 

Acts 1:25 – The text tells us that Judas went to his own place, a place at which he never would have arrived had he not TURNED AWAY from what Jesus had intended for him.  By transgression, by turning away from the will and ways of God, Judas fell! 

Now, what are we to make of this?  Certainly, there are a lot of things we could make of all of this.  But, if I may, I’d like to boil it down to just one thing: when it comes to leadership and to the INFLUENCE that leaders exert in our homes and in God’s Church, do we want – does God want – just anybody to serve as leaders?  Or, does God have His sights set higher than that?  And, should we have our sights set higher, too? 

I ran across an interesting and powerful statement regarding leadership that I just have to stick in right here.  Listen, here’s the statement: If we, as God’s people, truly are taking God’s Word as our final authority, then we must pursue a BIBLICAL leadership, of home and church (and nation), and not just a leadership, not just any leadership!

Today our focus is primarily on church leadership, for sure.  But, as we move forward into the last half of this study, be thinking of how what I’m going to show you relates also to the home, and even to the nation. 

A BILICAL LEADERSHIP – what does our text (and the rest of Scripture) have to say are the FEATURES of a Biblical Leadership?  Well, let’s walk up the Biblical Leadership Ladder, one step at a time.  Step one, the bottom run of this Biblical Leadership Ladder, but an essential rung, an important run, nonetheless!  Acts 1:13, 21, 23 & 26 – A group of verses that, at least at first glance indicate what about Biblical leadership?  God means for it to be MALE leadership.  Now, fellows, before you start jumping up and down and cheering, allow me to remind you of one very crucial fact.  When it comes to Biblical leadership, JESUS is our ultimate example!  The Master who stooped to wash His servants’ feet, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep, the Bride Groom who LOVED His Bride and gave Himself up for His Bride!  Listen, fellows, when it comes to Biblical leadership, the emphasis is not on PRIVILEGES, but on sacrifice!  And, ladies, in case you’re wondering where all of this leaves you: let me tell you, as a husband and a father, I’m glad, and yes, I’m humbled that God gave me a help-meet, and that I NEED a help meet! 

1 Corinthians 11:3-12, 1 Timothy 2:8-15, and other passages underscore the importance of this first run of the Biblical Leadership Ladder, as they point out how male leadership has to do with God’s creation design, not man’s sinful heart.  And, how that that leadership must be exercised by men in keeping with Christ’s example of unselfish, sacrificial love! 

Certainly, there is more to unpack and explain related to this first rung of the leadership ladder, but, we must press on to rung numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5.  Biblical Leadership, it is, first of all, meant to be MALE leadership. But, then it also is meant to be SHARED leadership.  Despite what some groups believe and teach, Jesus did not state that He would build His Church on ONE man, Peter, but on the fact that He, Jesus, is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-19).  Nevertheless, Jesus did intend to use men, not a man, but a group of men, 12 to be exact, to be His instruments in the task of building His Church!  And their names are all given to us here in this chapter.  So, what is the point?  The point is that, in the Church, and really, in the home and nation, also, Biblical leadership is not meant to be concentrated in the hands of just ONE leader, a Senior Minister, a Ruling Elder, but in the hands of a plurality of leaders!

1 Timothy 5:17-20, “ Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.

I’m not going to read the entire passage, because the main point of it is not the main point I am making here.  However, be sure and notice that Paul’s instructions to Timothy here have to do, NOT with the treatment of ONE leader – THE elder – but with the treatment of a group of leaders – the ELDERS – plural!  1 Peter 5:1-4 highlights the same thing, that being that, in the Church, the Biblical pattern for leadership is that it is to be SHARED by a group of men. 

Next run, when it comes to the Biblical Leadership Ladder.  The third rung on the ladder has these words written on it: PASTORAL leadership! 

1 Peter 5:1-3, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

Now, the word ‘pastoral’ is a word that some might not fully understand.  If I may, I’ll explain it this way: Biblical Leaders, in particular, those whose role is that of elder, have as their primary FUNCTION the task of SHEPHERDING the flock!  Like a shepherd, a good shepherd leads, protects, feeds and even binds up the wounds of his sheep, so also the Biblical Elder’s function, his task in that position, is to be SHEEP-focused, not barn-focused!  He is to be attuned to, and is to attend to, the needs of the sheep!  His leadership, like that of Jesus, is to be PASTORAL leadership! 

This takes us, then, to rung #4 on the Leadership Ladder, the rung I call, ‘SERVANT leadership’.  Before we explain what we mean by that label, let me just ask you: do those two words, servant-leadership, taken together, seem to be a contradiction? 

Servant leadership.  Those two words, taken together, sure they do seem to be contradictory!  Until, unless you understand the nature of the incarnation, God the Son, Jesus Christ.  He was in very nature God, yet, He did not consider being equal with God, that position, as something to cling to, to refuse to lay aside.  Instead, He emptied Himself, put aside His heavenly majesty and glory, to do what?  To become a man, to swim in the sewer with sinful men and women like you and me.  The King of kings, He humbled Himself and became a servant, and, then, a SACRIFICE, that we might be saved, that we might reign with Him!  In the words of the apostle John, the Master took a towel, a pitcher and a basin, and He washed His servants’ feet!  Why?  To set an example – John 13:13-15.  To show us what Biblical leadership is all about: not selling out for 30 pieces of silver, but kneeling down to serve, to love, to give!  Biblical leadership, it’s not symbolized by a signet ring and a scepter!  No!  Rather, it’s symbolized and carried out through the use of pitcher, basin and towel!  That’s because Biblical Leadership is SERVANT leadership. 

The ladder of Biblical leadership:
            Rung #1 – Male leadership
Rung #2 – Shared leadership
Rung #3 – Pastoral Leadership
Rung #4 – Servant Leadership

Then, last of all, please understand that just as the selection of one man to take Jesus’ place involved the application of certain standards with respect to prospective candidates, so also Biblical leadership requires the application of certain qualifications with respect to prospective candidates.  In other words, Biblical Leadership is not only male, shared, pastoral and servant leadership, it is also QUALIFIED leadership!  Qualified leadership.  So, let me ask you: when it comes to the places in the Bible where the subject of leadership qualifications is discussed, do you know where to go to find those passages? 

With the leadership selection process just around the corner, allow me to point you to just 3 passages: 1 Timothy 1:1-13, Titus 1:5-16 and 1 Peter 5:17.  Make a note to be reading and studying and praying over these passages.  Why?  Well, certainly not just because I said so!  Rather, do so because what we need, what God desires for His Church, is not just LEADERSHIP, but Biblically qualified leadership!  And, why is that?  Let’s sum it up, shall we? 

Because as the leaders go, so go the followers.  As the shepherds go, so go the sheep!

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