When it comes to the topic of “leadership”, to paraphrase the Apostle John: “I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that have been written.” Authors constantly promise that they’ve FINALLY “unlocked the secret” to effective, foolproof leadership in your workplace, home, or neighborhood. New leadership buzzwords are regularly created. The “Leadership” shelf at Barnes & Noble could anchor a small cruise ship.
Our secular world recognizes the importance of competent, stable, and trustworthy leadership. We need good leaders during global pandemics, economic uncertainties, and societal upheavals. We need good leaders at the state, national, and local levels. We need good leaders during seasons of plenty and little, joy and sorrow, normalcy and chaos.
Unsurprisingly, we also need good leaders in THE Church (as in, the Body of Christ spanning borders, languages, skin colors, cultures, and traditions). We need good leaders in OUR church (as in, Prairie View Christian Church).
If you think the importance of good leadership has been overinflated by publishing companies, business consultants, and motivational speakers, I may agree with you. However, we can’t deny that the importance of good leadership is taught regularly in the pages of the Bible.
Many have argued that Eve’s sin in Genesis 3 can be (at least partly) attributed to a lack of leadership by Adam. Eve was her own person, with her own agency; however, Adam came before Eve, and he was first tasked with “working” and “keeping” the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). Thus, because Eve’s sin came under Adam’s watch, Adam is responsible for this failing. While the infamous conversation with the serpent centers around Eve in Genesis 3, the Apostle Paul has no problem blaming Adam for the presence of sin in the world in Romans 5.
In the Book of Exodus, God commissions Moses to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt. Could God have done this without appointing one person to lead the people? Of course; he’s God! But in his wisdom, God appointed a human leader. And even after their rocky time in the wilderness, before Moses died, God saw fit to appoint a clear successor (Joshua) to lead in his absence.
By the time we get to the Book of Judges, we see multiple crises of leadership in Israel. God’s people fall into sin, are punished by God (usually in the form of foreign oppression), cry out to God for deliverance, and God appoints a “judge” to save them. All of these judges are sinful and flawed (some more obviously than others), but God repeatedly uses these leaders to deliver the Israelites. The last few chapters of the Book of Judges feature some of the most horrifying events in Israel’s history, and not coincidentally, the following phrase is repeated: “There was no king in Israel” (Judges 19:1). The final verse of the book adds: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Good leadership matters. Even though we might not need quite as many “leadership” books as we have, it’s beyond debate – both in our secular world, and in Scripture – that good leadership matters.
And speaking of good leadership, it’s Elder season at Prairie View! We’ve been collecting nominations for new Elders, and will soon encourage church members to vote on one Elder renewing his leadership term, and another Elder starting his. Your vote on Elders at PVCC matters, because good leadership matters.
We’ve already seen a few examples of the importance of good leadership in the Old Testament; there are more passages addressing good leadership in the New Testament. When it comes to the leadership of Elders in a local church, the three “go-to” passages are 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5.
These passages give us a good barometer by which to determine who should be an Elder, and who should not. That being said, they may leave some room for debate about whether or not a specific individual is qualified for Eldership. For example, while Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:2 that an Elder must be “the husband of one wife”, I don’t believe that a divorced or single man can never serve as an Elder; it depends on the circumstances. In Titus 1:6, Paul writes that an Elder’s children must be believers – but what about adult children who have moved out of the house? In 1 Peter 5, we read that an Elder must not serve “under compulsion”, and “eagerly” (VS. 2) – but if we’re being honest, even the best Elder might not “feel” like serving at every moment (especially the difficult ones). Does that mean he’s disqualified?
While these passages may not address every contemporary question of good leadership in a church, they certainly give us somewhere to start. These passages give us an idea of what to look for in potential and current Elders; a basic set of expectations. But much of the time, appointing good leaders in a church will require discernment, patience, even a bit of faith and trust in God.
Proverbs 11:14 says: “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
Good leadership matters at Prairie View Christian Church. So, we ask that you nominate those you believe have potential for good leadership as Elders. We ask that you judge those who are currently on the ballot wisely. We ask that you trust our leaders, and follow us as we follow Christ (albeit imperfectly). We ask that you strive to be a better leader yourself, because who knows; our church may need you in the future (in the office of Elder, or elsewhere).
Good leadership is a gift from God; one that a church can never have enough of. And as we appoint leaders in our local church, may we all (including leaders ourselves) fix our eyes on our eternal leader, Jesus Christ. While good leadership is important for shepherds in a local church, our true hope is in our chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).