The heart of church leadership begins with God.
— 2 Corinthians 1.21-22 – But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.
God establishes and anoints leaders for their service. An established leader is one whom God has confirmed as legitimate.
To be an anointed leader is to be confirmed by God. God authenticates his leaders through the seal of the Holy Spirit.
When a king sent an official document, he dripped wax on it and pressed the signet ring into the wax.
Paul and other Christian leaders are established as authentic representatives of God because the Holy Spirit is active in their lives.
The presence of the Holy Spirit is the first installment or down payment for both leaders and the church at large.
Rudy Ross explains that a down payment on a house may be only 5% of the purchase price. It is a small portion of what is owed.
God’s Spirit in our hearts ensures us that heaven will be our home.
One of my joys is to see the transformation that takes place in a person’s life when the Spirit enters. Each transformed person reminds me of God’s faithfulness both now and forever.
Leaders Not Lords
Christian leaders are stamped with God’s seal of authority. Their leadership is essential. Nevertheless, they are leaders and not lords.
— 2 Corinthians 1.23-24 – But I call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth.
I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians confronted their pride, status-seeking, and worship practices. He used every tool at his disposal to change their behavior.
He knew that Jesus was the head of the church, and never wanted to “lord it over your faith.”
He modeled working with other members of the church with a joyful attitude.
Paul’s example is quite telling for church leaders today. We are leaders, but not lords. Only Jesus is Lord and the head of the church.
Church leaders that exalt Jesus as head of the church in both word and deed are what Jesus had in mind when he set them apart for service.
These thoughts apply to pastors but are not limited to them. Years ago, a Christian humorist wrote about a man who wanted to be crowned as a deacon.
Deacons and ministers are both by definition servants. They serve by leading under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
No Pain – No Gain
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians caused pain among many. Paul confronted their behavior and desired repentance on their part.
Like a good coach, Paul called them to do what they didn’t want to do so they could get what they all wanted to obtain.
— 2 Corinthians 2.1-4 – So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit.
For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?
And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you.
For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
Charles Spurgeon instructed his students to never preach on some subjects without tears in their eyes.
The leadership of God’s servant confronts issues out of a broken heart of love. Their pain does not paralyze their leadership but tempers it for the sake of the congregation.
I served with Emory Wallace in Louisiana for seven years. He was one of the best pastors I have ever known.
He told the staff one Monday morning of a time when church members failed to attend an evangelistic meeting that his church-sponsored.
Attendance was embarrassing and Pastor Wallace felt the weight of defeat.
On the Sunday morning following the poorly attended meeting, Pastor Wallace was filled with anger toward his people.
Shortly into the sermon, after blasting the congregation with criticism, he put his head down on the pulpit. He pointed to the exits and told the people to go home.
The congregation left the building in shocked silence, feeling guilty over their lack of support for the meeting.
Later, when Pastor Wallace came to his senses, he realized that the guest speaker was awful. If he hadn’t sponsored the event, he probably wouldn’t have attended either.
We staff members had a good laugh over Pastor Wallace’s confession of failure. The way he told the story on himself, there was nothing left to do but laugh.
I learned from Pastor Wallace and my own failings that correction and direction is the responsibility of leaders. However, it is to be done in humility and love.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. Rudy adds so much to the discussion. I hope you will take ten minutes to listen.
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