Monday, December 29, 2008

1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 (Leadership, or More Properly Being Led)

Here we do not have any glimpse or insight into how leaders were selected or chosen in the early churches. For all we know they could have simply emerged, although we do see that Paul had earlier in Acts when traveling through the Galatian region, appointed leaders for the churches he had planted. However, we do here see three characteristics of church leaders that Paul had in mind:

Diligent Labor. Church leaders work… hard. This is not a vocation for people who just want to sit around and do nothing all day. The work hours are long, the demands are many, and the rewards are often overlooked. That is not to say that there are no lazy leaders in today’s churches… in fact there are far too many.

Charge. This aspect of church leadership is the side that most people desire. They want to lead. Small churches in particular are full of people who are told what to do by everyone in their life and long for a place where they can have a say. This is not the intended meaning of this designation. Church leaders protect and aid the church. They look out for the good of the body; they don’t get their way.

Instruction. Church leaders teach the believers and make sure that Biblical doctrine is understood and maintained. Simple enough… but not often done.

The problematic part of this passage for today’s church is the part that tells us to esteem our leaders and live in peace. When we fail to do this we disregard not our leaders but God, and leaders themselves tend to have the worst problem with this command. Everyone has authorities in their lives, but when leaders nurse rebellion it is not surprising that it trickles down to everyone.

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