Leadership in the Church

Leadership in the Church

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Monday, February 5, 2024

If God has placed you in a position of leadership, He has certainly placed you there to continue growing, but He also called you to that position in terms of who you are right now. If God in His providence is behind that call in any sense, He’s calling you because of the gifts, talents, and abilities that you have right now. In that sense, you don’t have to pretend that you’re something you’re not. He’s calling you as you are. He doesn’t want you to stay there; He wants you to grow, He wants you to move, He wants you to progress—but to progress without anxiety, without being uptight about your inadequacies.

It’s true that Paul was an Apostle and we are not. Nevertheless, Paul was a minister, and those who serve in the church are also ministers. There is a point of contact between all the men and women who labor in Christian leadership and the Apostle Paul, and we can learn something about techniques, methodology, and priorities from him.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:1–5:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul said he did not approach the Corinthians “with lofty speech or wisdom”; in other words, Paul was saying: “When I came to you, I didn’t try to impress you. I didn’t come to you in an attitude of superiority. I didn’t exercise my position of leadership in the context of arrogance or self-exultation.” This must be the first principle of godly ministry and leadership—that we do not assume a posture of superiority, whether in our speech, in our demeanor, or in our attitude. There’s no question that Paul was superior in terms of his knowledge, his gifts, and the strength of his person, but he didn’t appear as one who was superior. He ministered in the context of weakness, as he went on to explain.

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). There’s a sense that Paul was speaking hyperbolically, for he spoke about many other things besides the crucifixion. He spoke about the whole scope of theology, the whole counsel of God. But in terms of his priorities and central focus, that which conditioned everything else that he said was Christ and Him crucified. He was determined to know nothing else, and the Greek word translated “to know” suggests not simply intellectual understanding but an intimate, profound grasp. He wanted to know Christ, and that knowledge of Christ drove him into his position of leadership.

Verse 3 is a key to Paul’s success as a minister, pastor, and Christian leader: “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.” Whatever else Paul was in terms of his ministry, he was constantly identifying with the weaknesses, fears, and trembling of his people.

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