St. Paul in Romans 12 gives us a good understanding of spiritual gifts and church leadership. In verse 3 we are exhorted to, “not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Just as the body has many parts, so the church has many functions or areas of service to the Lord which require different spiritual gifts. Some have been given the gift to prophesy, others to serve, others to teach, others to encourage, others to give generously, and others to lead. But the most important thing is to do all in love.
We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 12 that “4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” So no matter our position or station in the life of the church we are reminded about who is in charge. The lord our God has given some the responsibility to lead the flock, which is a demanding responsibility. But He has also given those individuals the gifts needed to fulfill the responsibilities of their leadership roles. How one uses those gifts in service to others is a key to the success of church. But once again the key to success is shown to us in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. “1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Dr. Bruce Hartung in his book entitled Building Up the Body of Christ reminds us that “… all offices in the church and all spiritual gifts are just that – gifts of the spirit of God.” We all have natural abilities and gifts from God that we use to build up the body of Christ, but we also are given spiritual gifts that come to us not as a result of our own efforts but rather as gifts from the Spirit. This should also remind us that no one particular gift is more important than another. We are one body in Christ and we must work together to praise the one who saved us.
Love is the key to good relationships and to good leadership. Love helps us to use our God given gifts to work together toward the unification of our work here on earth. We need to use our gifts to create beautiful music rather than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Yes, we could use our gifts in a negative or not so God pleasing manner, which would not be fulfilling our roles as a God pleasing leader. Our goal needs to be that of building up the community of believers for the good of others. Leaders are servants. Leaders are learners and study God’s word daily. Leaders do not know everything about the scriptures and seek to help and support others to be faithful followers of God’s Word. Leaders all fall short of what God wants and needs in this world, but with constant meditation and servanthood toward others, leaders can do what is needed in order to build up the body of Christ.
Mid-South District Education Exec.