Understanding the spiritual leadership in a local church
Topic: Understanding the Spiritual Leadership in the Local Church
By Staff Pastor Eloho E. Eniwore
Text: Matthew 16: 18; Acts 20:28
The church is made up of those who have had their sins forgiven, because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Each local gathering of believers is called the church. All people who believe in Jesus for Salvation are a part of the universal church. But unless they join themselves to a local body of believer (i.e a local church), it will be difficult to conceive what membership of the church universal means. The local believers gather together regularly for prayers, teaching and fellowship. The word church in Greek is “Ecklesia” meaning the called out once.
Scriptural foundation: Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 20:28, John 6:49-50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8
People are looking for someone to lead them into God’s purpose, God’s ways. They need leaders who truly believe God will do what He says. People will follow spiritual leaders who understand God’s agenda, and know how to move them onto it. The world can offer its best theories on leadership and provide the most extensive training possible, but unless God sets the agenda for a leader’s life, that person though thoroughly educated will not be an effective spiritual leader. God is looking for spiritual leaders who will stand for Him in the business, medical, political, academic, judicial, professional and sacred world. Isaiah 59:16, Ezek. 22:30. The Lord Jesus gave a command to His disciples, “occupy till I come”. Luke 19:13.
(a) The Concept of Spiritual Leadership
According to Blackaby, secular leaders may lead people to achieve their goals, even goals held by followers. But this is not the focus of spiritual leaders. Spiritual leadership involves more than merely achieving goals. People can accomplish all of their goals and still not be successful in God’s Kingdom. While it is true that leaders have motives, spiritual leaders are directed by the Holy Spirit and not by their own agendas.
Although there are numerous definition of leadership by renowned leadership coaches, but spiritual leadership according to Blackaby “is moving people onto God’s agenda”
The Task of the Spiritual Leader
The Spiritual Leader’s task is to move, people from where they are to where God wants them to be.
(i) Spiritual leaders depend on the Holy Spirit.
(ii) Spiritual leaders are accountable to God.
(iii) Spiritual leaders can influence all people, not just God’s people. History is replete with examples of Christian men and women exerting spiritual leadership upon secular society, e.g Apostle Heyford Alile. (Was the Director General of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, and Director or Board member of many other blue ship Companies). Apostle Gideon Irerhievwie, was the Chairman of the Chemical Society of Nigeria, Delta State Chapter for two terms (an academic body), Prof. Benjamin Carson was the Director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in the USA.
(iv) Spiritual leaders seek God’s will, whether it is for their church or their corporation, and they marshal (lead or move) their people to pursue God’s plan.
Spiritual Leadership: Jesus as the Model
(i) Jesus vision for Himself and His disciples came from the Father. He sought the Father’s will.
(ii) Jesus developed His relationship with God the Father as well as with people. Luke 2:52.
(iii) He did not allow the opinion of people to side track Him from His mission, because He knew the will of the father Mk. 1:37; Matthew 4:1-13
(iv) Jesus refuse to take short cuts in carrying out His Father’s will. He has to go through the process of redeeming man (the cross) as written by His Father. Matthew 4:8-10, John 6:15, Matt. 12:38; 27:40
Jesus, however was never required to develop ministry goals or action plans, He was sent to follow the Father’s plan to the letter. John 5:19-20, 30
Even the twelve disciples were chosen by the Father’s will. Luke 6:12-13
(v) Jesus gave an account of His stewardship to His Father for all that the Father had given Him. John 17:6-7
(vi) Jesus yielded entirely to His Father’s will. Matt. 26;39; 24:36
(vii) Jesus came to fulfill His Father’s plan of Salvation. In the midst of the great crowd following Him in Jericho, for one miracle or the other, He followed the plan of God and spotted the despised tax collector Zaccheus and got him saved from his sins. Lk. 19:1-10
Even in the most difficult assignments, including the cross, Jesus accepted His Father’s will unwaveringly.
Our Lord Jesus has established the model for Christian leaders. It is not found in His “methodology” rather, it is seen in His absolute obedience to the Father’s will. Current leadership theory suggests good leaders are also good followers, and this is particularly true of spiritual leaders. Spiritual leaders understand that God is their leader. If Jesus provides the model for spiritual leadership, then the key is to obey and to preserve everything the Father reveals to them of His will.
Spiritual Leadership in the Local Church Acts 20:28
The Local Church is an assembly of believers in Christ worshipping together in a place. It is a place of fellowship and communion, Acts. 2:42-47. The Local Church is the spiritual home of the brethren, worshipping together; it is a place of unity, rest, and peace. It is a place where worshippers are given godly instructions and guidance and how to be the light of the world and salt of the earth. Matthew 5:13-16. It could be in the house of a faithful brother or sister, a denomination owned building or any where the brethren decide to come together for fellowship. The Local Church is usually where two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus Christ for fellowship, not necessarily a crowd or multitude, Matthew 18:20.
The Spiritual Leader of a Local Church
Our Lord Jesus said, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain”. John 15:16. A Spiritual Leader is someone sent by God, chosen and ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ to keep watch over himself and the flock which the Holy Ghost has made him overseer. He is the “under shepherd” of the local church or denominational church of God which Christ has bought with His own blood, John 1:6, John 15:16, Acts 20:28.
B. Spiritual Leadership in the Local Church
In recent times, too many ministers have drifted from their place of assignment and calling, many have forsaken the vision of the Master and had created their own visions and patterns based on trends, and areas that seems marketable in the ministry.
We must be mindful of our calling to be servants of Christ; we are entrusted with the secret things of God 1 Cor. 4:1. As servant of Christ we must understand the word servant; servant means an “under rower”. It refers to the slaves who sat in the belly of the large ships and pulled at the great oars to carry the boat through the sea. Christ is the Master of the ship and the minister is one of Christ slaves. Remember that slaves in the belly of the ship were bound by chains. They were allowed to do nothing but serve the Master of the ship. Spiritual leadership is an act of servant hood. You exist only to row for the Master. You do not and cannot serve anyone else.
In 2 Timothy 2:24, Paul said “And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. The word “servant” in this verse is the Greek word “doulos”; it describes a bond slave who is bound to do what he is told to do, regardless of what he thinks about it. This means that Timothy, as a bound servant of the Lord, was to hear what the Lord told him to do and then faithfully carry out His orders, no matter what he felt or thought about them. (Rick Renner)
The above clearly depicts spiritual leadership in the local church
C. Duties of the Spiritual Leader in a Local Church (copied from what the Bible says to Ministers)
1. He must challenge and lead people to worship the Lord, the only living and true God, in spirit and truth. John 4:23-24, 1 Chro. 16:29, Psalm 95:6; 100:4-5
2. He must minister and serve even as Christ ministered and served. Matt. 20:26-28, Gal. 6:2, Luke 4:18-19.
Christ gave and sacrificed himself to the ultimate degree to save mankind. You cannot bear the sins of men, but you can:
i. Be compassionate
v. Be warm and tender
vi. Share the promises of God
vii. Sympathize and empathize
viii. Meet needs
ix. Visit and encourage and strengthen
x. Share the hope of eternal life
xi. Heal the brokenhearted
xii. Give sight to the blind
xiii. Set free the bruised
xiv. Share the hope of the Gospel, in particular with the poor
3. He must seek and save the lost even as Christ sought and saved the lost. Luke 19:10, John 20:21
4. He must work and labour for God right now, the harvest is ripe and the task is urgent. John 4:35
5. He must preach the word of God; correcting, rebuking and encouraging people. 2 Tim. 4:1-2
6. He must preach the word, that is, all scripture that is given by God. 2 Tim. 3:16, Acts 5:20, 2 Tim. 4:2, Matt. 10:7, 27, Mk. 16:15
(i) He is not to preach:
(ii) His own ideas
(iii) The ideas of other men
(vi) Self image
(x) Educational development
(xi) Personal efforts
(xiii) Man-made religion
7. He must build up and strengthen believers and prepare them to do the work of the ministry. Eph. 4:11-13, 1 Cor. 14:3
8. He must feed the believers John 25:7, Acts 20:28
9. He must watch over and warn the believers. Heb. 13:17, Ezek. 3:17; 33:6-9
As God’s watchmen, ministers are to watch over the souls of God’s people, Heb. 13:17, you must watch over their (i) welfare (ii) love (iii) purity (iv) growth (v) peace (vi) knowledge (vii) holiness (viii) joy (ix) faith.
You must warn them about (i) temptations (ii) trials (iii) judgment (iv) doom (v) death
10. He must lead believers into a pure and faultless religion. James 1:27. Pure religion is also keeping oneself unpolluted by the world
11. He must do the work of an Evangelist 2 Tim. 4:5
12. He must oversee the administration of the church, set in order the affairs and organization of the church Titus 1:5, 1 Peter 5:2.
As a minister, he must oversee the administration of your local branch and set its affairs and organization in order. He must set up a workable structure of the branch, and appoint well trained leaders in different groups to carry on the ministry of the church, Acts 6:2-4.
Understanding Spiritual Leadership in the Local Church helps the minister to be well guided, focused and efficient in the service of God and His people. It helps the minister build the church of Christ (the people) to maturity, and get them, and himself ready for the kingdom of heaven, Eph. 4:11-13.
Finally, we must avoid the danger of pride that led to the drastic fall and destruction of Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:16. He started by pleasing God in his early years as king; but later developed a prideful attitude due to his great success; and tried to perform the priests’ duties in direct disobedience to God. He ended up a leper and died in isolation.
God bless you!
Staff Pastor Eloho Eniwore
1. Henry & Richard Blackaby (2001) Spiritual Leadership; Evangel Publishers Ltd. Kaduna.
2. Mahony, R (2002) The Shepherd’s Staff; World MAP, Indian.
3. NKJV, Life Application Study Bible; Tyndale House Publishers
4. Jimmy Sawggart (2013) “KJV”, the Expositors Study Bible. Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, Baton Rouge, LA.
5. (2009) what the Bible says to the Minister; Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
6. Rick Rener;