And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues [1 Corinthians 12: 28].
This Scripture mentions several of the Holy Spirit gifts that we have been discussing. Note that first of all, we have to have apostles [leaders]. What this Scripture is really highlighting is that we have to have leaders in church. Romans 12:8 says “if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” This Scripture focuses on the one who is “to lead”; the Greek word for “to lead” in this Scripture translates “rule” or “govern”.
First Thessalonians 5:12 says in relation to ministers “And we beseech you brethren, to know them which labor among you and over you in the Lord. Note the words “over you”, a reference to the hierarchy of leadership. Pastors lead the church but God is over the pastor; never forget who is your true leader.
What we are talking about is what Graham* calls the spiritual gift of “governments” or the spiritual gift of leadership. Many church members are perfectly happy to not have this gift; they would rather be followers than leaders, but there is a simple question that must be asked of all churches. How can the church accomplish tasks, develop its congregation, serve the needs of its fellowship or establish a community witness? How can this be done without people who have the gift of leadership?
The simple answer… it can’t.
Pastor Billy Graham writes that “the Scriptures teach that churches must have government; they require leadership, whether professional or nonprofessional” . Jesus spent His ministry time with twelve men, developing them into leaders who would carry on His work after He went to heaven. The Apostles appointed leaders over the churches they founded. Paul gives qualifications for Bishops in Timothy 3: 1-7, saying they are overseers, superintendents, or governors.
Some churches or assemblies may try to conduct the work of the Lord without appointed leaders but Graham “believe[s] this is virtually impossible” . Many churches have appointed, ordained leaders who carry out the work of the church as part of their jobs, but every church also has members who rise to leadership roles even though they don’t have official titles.Whether a person is an appointed leader or just a naturally gifted leader, there are several qualities which distinguish the spiritual gift of leadership. First and foremost is the idea that they have the ability to lead because God has given them the gift. They do not see themselves as absolute rulers; they are subject to the One who is above us all. If God gives this Holy Spirit gift to us, acknowledging that prevents us from succumbing to pride or a sense of entitlement.
The leader in the church has the ability to sway others to think rightly, biblically and in a Godly manner in all matters. They feel the power of God in their lives, they exhibit that power as they lead their lives and they have the ability to use words and actions to convince others to consider the power of The lord. These words may come from the pulpit, but convincing also comes in the form of activities associated with various ministries in the church. The leader does not just talk about doing things; the leader follows through and takes action along with followers. Indeed “actions may speak louder than words.”
Graham says the qualifications of a leader are listed several times in the New Testament. A leader “must not be dictatorial, egotistical, or dogmatic; he is anything but that. Rather he is humble, gracious, kind, and filled with love; yet at times he must be very firm. For this reason, the gift of knowledge combined with wisdom is necessary” . The leadership ideals in the New Testament are in opposition to pomp and pageantry. One can study the life of Jesus; instead of pomp and pageantry, He emphasized grace, humility and service.
The spiritual gift of leadership is given by God to men and women who will help the church to grow beyond the current generation. God did not give this gift for man to exalt himself; he gave it for God to be exalted.
When one thinks about the life of Christ, that life is the perfect example of the ideal Christian leader. Jesus came to serve and give His life for the ransom of us all. He humbled Himself as a servant, washing His Disciples feet. After doing that He said “a servant is not greater than his master.” He was not greater than His Father God. He said that every true leader is a helper, a servant or even a bond slave.
His most important message to us all was through love we are to serve one another. This is not a suggestion. It is a command.
Graham says it “applies with special force… to leaders.”
People who have the Holy Spirit gift of leadership.
*Billy Graham from his book The Holy Spirit