The Need for Leadership

Decline of Leadership

One of the silly fantasies I have cherished for many years is a one week trip back to the sixties. Life then was so simple and pleasant that even sin seemed to have manifested a more modest appearance.

As a young man, I had great respect for leaders, both political and religious. While counting it as a remarkable privilege to wash my pastor’s car, I eagerly desired the opportunity to shake hands with any one of our Commonwealth leaders-whether it be prime minister, governor or most of all, her Majesty, the Queen of England.

But times have changed, and society has lost its respect for those in authority. Although this may be the result of ambitious and perverted leaders who, in some cases, have completely misused their position, the demand for good leaders should still hold priority. The accomplishments of political leaders must not be disregarded in the face of the slightest moral mishap. Those in positions of authority should be respected and honoured rather than criticized, ridiculed or held in contempt.

Sadly, it would appear that the arrogance of a third world dictator generates a greater respect for authority than the liberality of our western leaders. The fault may be the unbalancing of authority within a democratic form of government that fails to protect the credibility of its leaders. It is tragic when a democracy becomes that form of government likened unto “the tail wagging the dog”, or “the feet doing the thinking”.

These critical comments are not intended to offer choices between political administrations, but rather offer enlightenment to the child of God in the face of reality. My major concern is for the church and the amount of influence coming into God’s work from an ungodly society.

Can we build godly homes and a godly church by adopting the principles of an ungodly system? Should we allow democracy in our homes to undermine the principles of Biblical parenting? Why is society so extreme in its support of non-Biblical principles?

It will be phenomenal when ‘parent abuse’ is given equal credence as child abuse, or when ‘pastor abuse’ becomes as sensitive an issue as church abuse.

As I see it, government by the people could be wonderful if communities were established on moral values and a sense of responsibility. But a society that is depraved, immoral, and irresponsible will only elect to office an element that will facilitate its rebellion. Leaders will be selected only because they can be led by the people and be made to dance to the music of the masses. When the majority of voters are motivated by the drives of the fallen nature, it is more than likely that those elected to office will not hold morality and discipline as a priority. The same concept can be applied to the church.

Regretfully, democracy has crept into the church and has successfully replaced theocracy: that which is ruled or governed by God. Ministers in today’s society are hired and fired while ‘divine calling’ is becoming obsolete. Democracy in the church, as a substitute for ‘abusive’ leadership, will ultimately obliterate Biblical leadership. The very purpose of the church will be compromised.

Prophetic Foresight

The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, warns of “perilous times” for the world. The summary of his numerous reasons, as recorded in 2 Timothy 3:2-4, seems to hinge on man’s perverted ambition, disrespect for godly values, and an exaggerated emphasis on self-gratification.

In 2 Timothy 4:2-4, the Apostle Paul exhorts young Timothy to preach the word without reservation. He was to “reprove, rebuke and exhort” as it became necessary, but always with patience and doctrine, “for the time will come when [church members will not appreciate] sound doctrine; but after their own lusts” will they choose leaders and teachers who will cater to their religious fantasies. The purpose of church attendance will be to satisfy a religious lust and receive a spiritual fix. This slant to church attendance will never change lives, but only serve to entertain the people. It will cater to the perversion of Biblical leadership and a rejection of true men of God. Jude describes this element that “despise authority” and speak evil of dignified leadership as “filthy dreamers” and “brute beasts”. They may be religious, but are lacking spiritual clarity regarding the things of God. They are non-elect, “twice dead, plucked up by the roots”. (Jude 1:8-13).

When the congregation becomes an audience, the leader or preacher is forced into becoming a performer and an entertainer. This is the spirit of Hollywood in God’s house.

History Speaks

With almost no exception, a reflection on Biblical history reveals an abundance of prophets and apostles all receiving a common response from society – rejection!

One may suggest that these men were rejected based on the flaws of their humanity, but then why was our Lord Jesus rejected? (Jn. 1:10-11). Is it not the work of Satan that godly leaders are rejected and condemned? What would influence someone to accuse Jesus of being born of fornication (Jn 8:41), or that He was casting out devils by Beelzebub (Mt. 12:24), or that He was a Samaritan with a devil? (Jn. 8:48). Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of those rejecting Him by saying, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” (Jn. 8:44). As we look back to the past, it is evident that godly leaders were always rejected, and many brutally martyred.

I think of Moses and the rebellious Israelites, continually murmuring against his God-ordained leadership, and even attempting to stone him. (Num. 14:1-10; Ex. 17:1-4). What of Korah, Dathan and Abiram’s accusation that he was taking on too much authority and failing to consider the so-called spirituality of others? (Num. 16:3).

When we think of Isaiah, history describes his death as horrifying: he was sawn in half.

Jeremiah was almost a total reject. The list goes on and on, including Elijah, Ezekiel, David, and the majority of Early Church apostles.

The spiritual onslaught of God-ordained leaders is no new phenomenon and should never be taken lightly. Although men are martyred for their faith and the truth they cherish, it is usually the lies of false witnesses that ultimately determine their deaths. This was the reality in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. (Mt. 26:59-60).

Need For Godly Leadership

One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

Can you imagine what would result if the speed limits of our highways were left to the discretion of every driver? What if there was no police department or government control, but every man and woman did as they pleased?

Just as leadership and governmental administrations are largely responsible for the success that society attains, so too, the future and success of God’s work must rely heavily on godly leadership and scrupulous administration.

The Apostle Paul shows the absolute necessity of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists for the “perfecting of the saints” until the “fullness of Christ” is achieved. (Eph. 4:11-13). The author of Hebrews emphatically exhorts the saints to pay attention to the governing body of God’s work and obey them. (Heb. 13:7 & 17).

As we draw closer to the end of the age, described in scripture as a period of gross darkness and unprecedented deception, let us pray that God will raise up a ministry that will give His people godly leadership and spiritual direction.

However, we should never anticipate a flawless ministry. Although it would be wonderful to have such a ministry, this has never happened in the past, and it will not happen today. Had it not been for the weaknesses of men in the Bible, the volume of scriptural history would have been reduced to a mere booklet. But God calls imperfect men and perfects them in the process of their ministry.

As children of God we must not incorporate the mindset of the world, but rather, develop the mind of Christ and become capable of making righteous judgment. (Jn. 7:24).

The attitude of church members towards ministers in leadership will, in many instances, determine the methods and decorum of such leaders. Pressure from the people can cause an honest man of God to either run or adapt to please them. The Apostle Paul may have understood this when he exhorted the Ephesians to pray that “utterance may be given” to him so that he may open his mouth and speak boldly the things he ought to say. (Eph. 6:19-20).

Though Paul was a no-nonsense preacher, he received much honour and respect from the saints. Priscilla and Aquilla were prepared to risk their lives for him. (Rom. 16:3-4). The churches of Galatia accepted him as “an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus”. (Gal. 4:14). The Thessalonians followed him and accepted his words as “words of God”. (1 Thess. 1:6, 2:13).

However, as the years passed, Paul saw the gradual rejection of his leadership and the decline of his churches. He was branded as writing “weighty letters” while, in reality, they saw him as “weak” and regarded his speech as “contemptible”. (2 Cor. 10:10).

May the Lord raise up church leadership that will not compromise the truth, but will present a message and an order that will sanctify God’s people. May God raise up congregations that will submit and be faithful to godly leadership as scripture demands.