April 2, 2011
Spiritual Gifts Series
The Spiritual Gift of
“he who leads, with diligence,”
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With some of the spiritual gifts, we only have a few words to describe the gift and its uses. In the case of the Spiritual Gift of the Leaders, we can understand more about the gift by examining the use of the same words in other passages in the New Testament to understand more about The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders.
Leading in the New Testament
In the New Testament, God provides directions for leading the Church through offices (elder and deacon), and also through the spiritual gifts, whether the gifted saint holds an office or not. Every member of the body of Christ has a special spiritual gift, and God seriously expects each of us to use those spiritual gifts to the service and edification of all believers. We can examine the concept of leading in the New Testament to understand this spiritual gift.
The word “leads” (“προϊστάμενος“) in Romans 12:8 provides a starting point for understanding The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders in the New Testament. I submit it may be best to limit the gift of leading described here to the use of the term “leads” (“προϊστάμενος” and its related uses in the New Testament). You may certainly look to other passages to understand the work that leaders do in the local assembly, such as Hebrews 13:7, 17 and 24 and 1 Peter 5:1-4 (Church Overseers (“Πρεσβυτέρους“) here). Saints with the The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders may or may not hold the Church Office of Overseer and perhaps the pastor may not have The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders. The other word “diligence” (“σπουδῇ“) in the same verse helps us understand how The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders should be exercised. First, let us examine the concept of leading and then turn to the proper use of this spiritual gift with diligence.
Leading Skills. Church Overseers in the New Testament have specialized duties, such as shepherding the flock from savage wolves attacking from without, and evil men within the flock drawing away saints from the flock (Acts 20:28-30). The qualifications for Church Overseers include the ability to manage (“προϊστάμενον“) their own children and their own households under control (“ὑποταγῇ“) (1 Timothy 3:4). Therefore, we may understand that one aspect of The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders will involve influencing the mind and behavior of people, so that they will mature in Christ, while staying under control, and maintaining dignity (“σεμνότητος“). The saints need this type of leadership from leaders, including Church Overseers, who have first demonstrated this leadership ability at home. Likewise, deacons must have the same ability to be leaders (“προϊστάμενοι“) at home first (1 Timothy 3:12). The leadership gift means that the leaders will lead the assembly of saints, helping believers grow up in Christ, staying under control, and maintaining a dignified reputation for the assembly. Furthermore, the leaders have charge (“προϊσταμένους“) over the saints, who should appreciate their Godly leadership (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Indeed, these elders who lead well (“καλῶς προεστῶτες“) should receive double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). As a side note, Church Overseers should also be careful, as leaders, to recognizes the spiritual gifts of the saints under their charge and encourage them (1 Timothy 4:14). All leaders must labor diligently.
Careful To Engage in Good Deeds. All believers must be careful to engage in (“προΐστασθαι“) good deeds, but this quality and action must especially characterize The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders (Titus 3:8). Not only must the saints spiritually gifted with leadership be careful to engage in good deeds personally, but they must also lead others to engage in good works. By implication, the entire assembly may unify its efforts to produce good works, and unite individual efforts. Often, the leaders identify the needs of the saints that require others to do goods deeds to meet those needs (Titus 3:14).
The Concept of Diligence
We have reviewed some of the New Testament material concerning the general concept of leading in the New Testament. From that general understanding of leading, we can see that in Romans 12:8, it must be done with diligence. Therefore, we will now begin a review of the New Testament concept of diligence, with a special view of how diligence would apply to the use of The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders.
Word Study of Diligence. We can study the word “diligence” (“σπουδῇ“) in the New Testament to gain further insight into the proper exercise of The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders. The study of the term “diligence” reveals several related categories of meaning for this word, and many of them tell us how to use The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders.
Diligence and Eagerness. This word for “diligence” in Romans 12:8, related to the use of The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders, is sometimes translated “with eagerness.” Onesiphorus stands out as a great example of eagerness. During Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, Onesiphorus eagerly (“σπουδαίως“) searched for Paul, to refresh him, even though others may have stayed away because they were ashamed of his chains (2 Timothy 1:17). Leaders need this exact quality, and it identifies every Godly leader in the church. Leaders must eagerly search out the people in the flock who need ministry in any form, such as refreshment, encouragement, and the list goes on. Leaders eagerly search out ways to meet the needs of saints and they are not ashamed to go where others are too ashamed or too scared or too important to go.
Diligence and Making Every Effort. Another translation of the word “diligence” in Romans 12:8 is “make every effort” in some other passages. For example, in 2 Timothy 4:21, Paul urged Timothy to make every effort (“Σπούδασον“) to come before winter to visit him. This diligence that means “make every effort” should also characterize the use of the leadership gift. People with The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders must be known as people who “make every effort” to encourage others. Likewise, in Titus 3:12, Paul urged Titus to make every effort to come to him in Nicopolis. See also Jude saying he “was making every effort (“σπουδὴν“) to write concerning their common salvation (Jude 1:3). The same “make every effort” attitude describes one aspect of diligence that must be an important part of how saints gifted with The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders undertake their leading. They should put all of their efforts into leading, and not be absent or part-time leaders. Of course leaders can have a variety of full time jobs, but when it comes to exercising The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders, they should remember to make every effort.
Diligence and Helping Others. Another aspect of diligence includes being careful to help others. Leaders need to help others with diligence. For example, Paul instructed Titus to be diligent (“σπουδαίως“) to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that they would lack nothing (Titus 3:13). This “lack nothing” (“μηδὲν λείπῃ“) attitude must guide leaders to be diligent to help other workers lack nothing as they equip them for ministry.
Diligent and Self-Examination. Another meaning of “diligence” includes diligent (“σπουδάσατε“) self-examination to be certain about the calling of Christ and His choosing of believers (2 Peter 1:10). Saints with The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders should be certain to encourage other saints to examine themselves diligently to be sure they are pursuing personal spiritual development in the areas of faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5-8). In 2 Peter 1:5, Peter directs the saints to apply all diligence (“σπουδὴν“) to perfect their lives through adding Godly qualities within themselves by the power of God. With those spiritual qualities, saints will be useful for the service of God. This quality of diligent self-examination, in conjunction with a spiritual desire to mature in the qualities Christ produces in us, deserves the leadership of every person exercising The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders, starting with the leader himself.
Diligence and Spiritual Development. Another use of this word “diligence”, relates directly to the passage in 2 Peter 1:5-8, and concerns the duty of leaders to be totally diligent (“σπουδάσατε“) to present saints to Christ in peace, spotless and blameless (2 Peter 3:14). The spiritual welfare of the flock requires constant diligence to preserve peace within the assembly, and to promote a spotless and blameless testimony in every saint.
Diligence and Handling the Word of God. So often I meet people who have been saved from the penalty of their sins for many years, and could not locate in their Bibles two verses that describe salvation. I am not talking about arcane spiritual matters in obscure passages, but rather basic truths about essential matters of the faith. Ignorance of God’s Word stains the lives of many believers. Furthermore, most saints have no intention of reading the Bible, and becoming acquainted with the principles of reading and interpreting the Bible. In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul commanded each saint to be be continuously diligent (“σπούδασον“) to present themselves approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders must address this need in every Christian to learn how to handle and interpret the Word of God. It is not just the duty of the leadership to interpret the Bible and handle it accurately. Every saint must know how to read, interpret and apply Scripture daily. Leaders use diligence in leading the saints in this area.
Diligence and Reminding. In 2 Peter 1:15, Peter declared that he would be diligent (“σπουδάσω“) that after his departure, his audience would be able to call his teaching to their minds. Leaders exercising The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders should always have this desire to remind believers, and be diligent about reminding believers, to abide in the doctrine of Jesus Christ and His teaching, as recorded in the Old and New Testaments.
Diligence and Entering the Rest of God. In Hebrews 4:11, God commands saints to be diligent (“σπουδάσωμεν“) to enter His rest. In exercising The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders, everyone who has received the Word of God with saving faith must be diligent to enter the rest of God. The leader works with saints to keep them from falling, and being sure that each saint remains strong in the faith.
Diligence and Godly Sorrow. Another example of the use of the term for “diligence” occurs in 2 Corinthians 7:11. There we see that Godly sorrow produced great earnestness (“σπουδήν“) in the Corinthians as they dealt with the sinful brother described in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Their great earnestness lead them to vindication, fear, longing, zeal and avenging of wrong. Leaders operating under the influence of The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders will help all the saints develop a sense of great earnestness as the result of Godly sorrow over sin. This great earnestness will itself result in the saints taking appropriate action to restore the sinner, and restore the local assembly.
Jesus emphasized that the greatest among the saints would be the least of them and servant of all (Mark 9:33-37). We see then, as servants, saints gifted with The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders must exercise with diligence, and be an example to the flock. As saints, we must appreciate their work and honor them.
So we learn more about The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders today.
● We learn that saints using The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders stand before the saints as an example and servant, and help them by leading them to follow Christ.
● We learn that The Spiritual Gift of The Leaders must be exercised in diligence.
● All saints have a duty to honor and appreciate the leaders in the local church, and to give double honor to those who rule well.
Application for Today
Today, I want to appreciate the leaders in the assembly and honor them. I will also recall that Christ said call no man “leader” as a title, for only Christ is our Leader (Matthew 23:10). Will you honor the leaders who lead well today?