Leadership! To some it implies a “man-in-charge” mentality. It affords them the ability to make decisions without being questioned; to impose rules and regulations on others without challenge; to be accountable to no one for actions.
Nothing could be further from the Scriptural pattern of leadership. Every position of leadership in the Word of God is a position of service. Leaders in the assembly serve the saints. It is not manipulation of, but ministry to saints which gives value to leadership. Peter writes of leaders being “among,” of being “over,” of the flock being “among you,” and of going before the flock (1 Peter 5). There is intimacy and nearness of the sheep and shepherd.
It is axiomatic that the worth of a leader is directly linked with his character. Pauls instructions to both Timothy and Titus (1 Tim 3 and Titus 1) make this abundantly clear. A man cannot lead who has never learned to follow. He cannot teach if he does not have a teachable spirit. While each believer is directly responsible to the Lord for his or her own spiritual growth, leaders bear the added burden of being examples to the flock. A leader cannot expect saints to rise higher in spiritual character than he has risen.
One of the many responsibilities which leaders must take up in a local company is that of vigilance for the welfare of the flock. This is both a positive and a negative exercise. Feeding the flock and seeing that they are fed, will ensure their health and welfare (Acts 20). But the shepherd must be quick to sense the presence of the wolf, to detect that which could weaken the flock. Love for Christ is expressed in our care for the sheep (John 21).
But vigilance also extends to dealing with error, sin, and disorder in the assembly. We are reminded of the need for balance and care in the article written by our esteemed brother, Clarence Black. The sanctity of Gods house is vital. Every form of discipline, whether the private word of counsel and admonition, the public rebuke, or the solemn matter of excommunication, must be the result of a love for holiness, a love for the house, and a love for the believer involved.
But leaders must be men of vision. This issue of Truth and Tidings includes three articles which deal with the furtherance of the gospel. Those who shepherd Gods assembly must be men of vision – vision for the souls which are in a locality. Testimony will flourish just so long as we have a vision for the needs of the lost. An assembly which loses gospel vision loses vitality along with it, and eventually may lose its life. This vision should also rise to survey the fields beyond, and encourage, by word and practical fellowship, those who have ventured into new areas to bring the gospel.
Another vision which leadership entails is the development of others. We serve others. That would include the development and encouragement of gift and ability as God has given to those in your assembly. Paul constantly sought in his letters to encourage and stir up others.
The requirements of leadership are tremendous and only exceeded by the reward for leadership well done. “Lovest thou Me? … feed My sheep.”