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Last updated Wed Jun 4, 8:25 AM EDT

OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            The Lord’s church is both spiritual and physical in nature.  The kingdom of God resides within the hearts of men and women who have been born again (Luke 17:21).  The heart, however, dwells within the bodies of those redeemed souls.  The kingdom, therefore, is an institution that can be seen up the earth.  All saved people make up the church (Acts 2:47).

            Jesus Christ did not leave His body without any order.  He knew leaders were needed.  Thus, He placed several positions of leadership within the church.  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets, and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11).  Each office is unique.  Each position serves its own purposes.  Each office must be understood in light of God’s inspired Word.  When an individual does this, he will find that some offices are no longer available for individuals today, namely, the offices of apostle and prophet.  The positions of pastor, evangelist, deacon, and teacher are still available.  What are needed are individuals who are qualified, capable, and eager to fill these positions.  Yes, leaders are needed in the Lord’s church.

            Sadly, there are not very many individuals who are clamoring for these positions.  Many churches do not have elders.  Some churches only have two or three men who are deacons.  Throughout the world, there are many vacant pulpits.  And, almost every church has a lot of difficulty trying to find individuals who will teach.  To some extent, there is a leadership crisis within the Lord’s church.  Our situation is much like the situation of Ezekiel’s day.  “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it:  but I found none” (Ezek. 22:30).

            NEEDED:  LEADERS IN THE LORD’S CHURCH.  Every man in the body of Christ should perk up when he hears these words.  These words present an opportunity for him to do a great service within the blood bought institution of the church.  A person can use his talents, his time, his resources, his knowledge, his wisdom, his creativity, and his strength to serve God, to serve others, to make a difference in this world and the world to come, and to increase the borders of the kingdom of God.  Why wouldn’t every Christian be eager to accomplish these things for Jesus Christ?

            Leadership, however, is not just something that someone seizes at any time and place.  It is something for which a person prepares.  He longs to be a leader.  He does what is necessary to gain the knowledge and skills for the position.  Then, he can faithful and successfully carry out the duties required of him.

            Notice that it all begins with DESIRE.  When Paul set forth the list of qualifications of a bishop in I Timothy 3:1-7, he began with these words:  “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”  The word “desire” means “to stretch one’s self in order to touch or grasp something.”  When a toddler desires to be held, he stretches out his hands in the direction of the one he wants to hold him.  His outstretched arms indication his deep desire to the held.  It is this kind of desire that men need to have to become leaders in the Lord’s kingdom.  A man should say:  “I want to become an elder,” or, “I want to become a Bible class teacher.”  Desire is the driving force of successful leaders.  Desire is what eventually puts one into the office.  Without desire, there are no positive results.

            Once a person has a burning desire to become a leader, he must DEVELOP.  A teenager may take a position of leadership in a club at school.  A ballplayer may make up his mind that he will be a leader both on and off the field of play.  Some in their twenties often get married.  As both a husband and father, they will start to develop as a leader.  Individuals can assume leadership positions at work or in their community.  They can take courses on leadership, read books about the subject, and study about great leaders of the past. 

            Two areas of study that are a must for the one who desires to be a leader in the church involve qualifications and the actual work itself.  A person might have the qualifications, but he may be ignorant about the work itself.  Or, a person might have a good understanding about the work, but he may not possess the God-given qualifications for the work.  To be an elder, one needs to study I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.  These passages list the divinely given qualifications of the office of a bishop.  The person must also study about the work of an elder.  He oversees the congregation.  He is a shepherd to the flock.  He is a teacher.  He is an example.  Being an elder is more than assuming a position; it is an intense labor of love.

            To become qualified for a leadership position may take an individual several years.  Moses spent forty years in Egypt and another forty years in the wilderness before God called him to lead Israel out of bondage.  Paul grew up at the feet of Gamaliel, served among the council of the Jews, spent time in Arabia and Damascus, and spent a period of time in Antioch as a teacher before the Holy Spirit sent him forth on his first missionary journey.  Before becoming a leader, there must be a period of development to acquire the qualities and skills needed to do the work.

            Once a person has developed himself, he can be put into a leadership position.  At that time, he must DO.  Leadership is not about a title.  It is about activity and accomplishment.  It is about taking people from Point A to Point B.  It is about setting goals and reaching them.  It is about getting things done.  We see this in the example of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah had a burning desire to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:3, 17).  He put his plan of action in place, overcame all obstacles, and was successful in his endeavors.  “So the wall as finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days” (Neh. 6:15).  For a leader, doing is the measure of success.

            Dear readers, leaders are needed in the Lord’s church.  Who will respond?  Create a desire within to lead.  Spend the time necessary to develop.  Then, do the work once you are in the position.  If you do, you will grow, the church will be benefited, souls will be saved, and the Lord will be well-pleased.