Apostle Paul is very clear in his admonishing believers to recognize and esteem leaders for the work they do.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:2-13 NKJV For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.
I have discovered at least eight responsibilities of spiritual leaders in the New Testament that are worthy of our deep appreciation. Raising quality Christians is a result of having quality leaders, and quality leaders are those who have paid the price for their positions of influence by measuring up to the qualifications outlined by Paul in the letters of Timothy and Titus. Leadership in the New Testament is not conferred because of anointing only, but because of a exemplary life. We can impart the ministry grace we have, but we can only reproduce the life we actually live. The responsibilities of a leader are as follows.
1. Role Model Values.
Values are the indispensable qualities that identify a true Christ follower.
- PHILIPPIANS 4:9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
- HEBREWS 13:7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
2. Watch For Our Souls.
The mind, will and emotions of the believer determine their success, leaders can help us with our thought life, choices and handling our feelings.
- 3 JOHN 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
- HEBREWS 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
3. Restore Our Lives.
New believers are often condemned when being overcome by temptation and need reassurance of forgiveness.
- GALATIANS 6:1-2 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
- JAMES 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
4. Release Our Ministry.
Proper release into our calling is an assurance of success.
- ACTS 13:1-4 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
- JOHN 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
5. Reveal Hidden Truths.
Leaders with a spirit of wisdom and revelation are a source of divine truth to their followers.
- JOHN 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
- 2 TIMOTHY 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
6. Represent God To Us.
God is our Heavenly Father whose character can be seen in our mature earthly spiritual fathers.
- 1 THESSALONIANS 2:10-12 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
7. Raise Us Spiritually.
We are all children in need of parenting when we are born again; God places us in spiritual families to be raised into Christlike maturity.
- GALATIANS 4:19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,
- COLOSSIANS 1:27-28 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
8. Resource Us For Service.
Every believer has gifts and callings which we must discover, develop and deploy for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
- EPHESIANS 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
When we understand the charge given to leaders in the Church, it is not difficult to given them proper respect and cooperation as we benefit from their life and anointing. This is a good message to share on a special day of recognition for leaders.