The Bible discusses the means for the church to accomplish its God-given tasks. The Bible describes these means as spiritual gifts, one of which is the gift of leadership. The spiritual gift of leadership appears in Romans 12:8 and 1 Corinthians 12:28. Leadership is an essential part of the success of churches and mission organizations.
Leadership in church or organizational development is essential. Leadership is so important that everything rises and falls with leadership in organizations. The more skillful and effective the leadership, the better the organization runs and the more the potential for growth increases. David showed us how he developed as a leader. In Psalm 78:72 David “shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” Biblical leadership involves character and competence.
What does it look like for someone who has a gift of spiritual leadership? People with spiritual gift of leadership recognize that their position is by appointment of the Lord and is under His direction.
They understand that they are not absolute rulers but are themselves subject or accountable to the One who is over them all, the Lord Jesus who is the head of the church. Recognizing that the gifted Christian leader is subject to Christ, he can be prevented from succumbing to pride or a sense of entitlement. Like the apostle Paul, truly gifted Christian leader recognizes that he is but a slave of Christ and a servant of those he leads. A gifted Christian leader also recognizes that God has called him to his position and has not called himself (1 Corinthians 1:1). His call is by the will of God.
One of the gifted leaders in the early church is James, the half brother of our Lord. He led the church in Jerusalem. He referred to himself as a “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). As a gifted leader, James exhibited the ability to sway others to think rightly, biblically, and godly in all matters.
At the Jerusalem Council, James dealt with the controversial issue of how to relate to Gentiles coming to faith in Jesus the Messiah. “And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, ‘Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name’” (Acts 15:13-14). With that opening statement, James led the delegates to think clearly and biblically, enabling them to come to a right decision on this issue (Acts 15:22-29).
As shepherds of God’s people, gifted leaders lead with diligence and possess the ability to discern true spiritual needs from “felt” needs. They lead others to maturity in the faith. The Christian leader leads others to grow in their ability to discern for themselves that which comes from God versus that which is cultural or temporary. Following Paul’s example, the church leader’s words are not “wise and persuasive” from the viewpoint of human wisdom but are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, leading and encouraging others to rest their faith on that very power (1Corinthians 2:4-6). The goal of the gifted leader is to guard and guide those he leads “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
The spiritual gift of leadership is given by God to men and women who will help the church to grow and thrive. God has given the gift of leadership not to exalt men but to glorify Himself when believers use His gifts to do His will.