Leading God’s People
Counting today’s Bible readings we have covered many great biblical leaders, including Moses, Joshua, and all but the last two Judges of Israel.
In view of today’s installment of Steve Layne into our eldership, I thought we might look briefly at a lesson on leadership.
First of all, we are extremely blessed by God to have God’s own leadership as our King, our Father, our Shepherd and our Lord. We are blessed to have His revealed word in scriptures to lead us as well. Today we are blessed here at this church family to now have six elders to lead us in God’s will and way. The book of Revelation reveals that God’s throne is surrounded by (guess what?) ELDERS who are close to Him and who worship Him and receive wisdom and guidance from Him. The Signal Mountain Church of Christ was planted here on the mountain in 1948 and moved to this location in 1955. There are 19 men, counting Steve, who have served or are now serving as elders for this congregation of God’s people.
slide – S.T. Lovel, D.F. Broadrick, Martin Chappell, J.H. Rankin, Dion Standifer, Nolan Cathey, Duane Draper, Joe Spencer, A.G. Williams, Bill Elders, Marshall McKissick, C.G. Griffith, Jim Siler, Richard Carmack, Bob Mayes, Butch Feher, Earl Turner, David Bible, and now today Steve Layne joins that team of leadership.
Leading God’s people has always presented a challenge. While we, by God’s grace, are saints, we still sin. While we are a holy people, we still manage to do unholy things. While we are a royal priesthood, we can sometimes act unpriestlike. We are the sheep of His pasture, but straying is all too common among us. God has always used leaders as part of His plan to bring His people back to Himself and lead His people in His will and ways. As Judges demonstrates, when God’s people stray, God also uses His wrath to get our attention. He uses oppressors to wake us up. Then once we come to our senses and begin to cry out to God for help and seek His kingdom and righteousness first, God answers that cry with leadership to deliver us and lead us back to God’s will and ways. Whether by prophets, priests, judges or kings, apostles, evangelists, elders or teachers, God has always used human leaders to accomplish His purposes.
Leaders are flawed too. Even God’s best leaders had their weaknesses. Some are more glaring than others, as leaders arise from fallen humans. Moses and Aaron sinned and were not allowed to enter the promised land. (Though later Hebrews will call Moses a faithful leader in all of God’s house). Joshua (who was a great leader like Moses) failed to seek God’s will when the Gibeonites made a treaty with Israel. Many of the Judges were far from perfect. Abimelech was a complete loss. Samson lived in a way that strains the meaning of leadership, but at least He didn’t go after idols. (And even Samson makes the list of faith in Hebrews 11). Only Jesus Christ was without blemish or sin.
While our elders are not perfect, they are faithful and have reached a maturity in Christ that is a model for the rest of us to follow.
So, what are some things about leadership that have we seen thus far in our reading?
First, leading God’s people requires strength and courage. Moses didn’t want the job, remember? Ultimately, God shaped Moses into a strong and courageous leader who’s reputation in the Old Testament is second to none. Joshua, at the beginning of his leadership, was told over and over, both by God and by the people he led: be strong and courageous. It took a while, but by chapter 10, Joshua gets it and begins to tell others: be strong and of good courage!
In the book of Judges, Deborah arose, a mother in Israel, and led the people when the men were too afraid to do so. Jael, wins the honor of defeating Sisera, Israel’s enemy, because Barak was too afraid to go fight without Deborah at his side. Later, Gideon starts out with fearful heart, needing lots of signs by God to assure him that God really meant what God said about Gideon’s leadership. Once the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, he took courage and demonstrated God’s strength by defeating a massive army with 300 men. Samson is strong, and courageous, but he needed a lot more character. Which leads to the next quality of leadership we’ve seen.
While it is not essential to leadership, being faithful to God IS essential to good leadership for God’s people. One of the problems Israel faced had to do with being led away from faithfulness to God and into idolatry. Faithfulness to God, while not always popular, is always what God desires of His leaders, and what will bring the best blessings for God’s people under that kind of leadership. Some leaders who are faithful to God are not as fun or easy to get along with as some unfaithful leaders are. It would be nice if faithfulness to God in leadership was always accompanied with popularity among God’s people, but the Bible reveals that this is actually rarely the case. That’s why strength and courage combined with faithfulness to God are so helpful. Someone said, “Living above with those we love, Oh, that will be glory! But living below with those we know, that is a different story.”
Remember, God’s heart for His people is that we be holy, whether or not we are happy here below. Paul made this clear: “If only in this life we have hope in God, we are of all men most to be pitied!” He also encourages us with these words, “These light and momentary afflictions are working for us a weight of glory that will far surpass them all! I consider our present sufferings not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” God ultimately will bring all who stay faithful into the Joy of eternal glory, but there will be tears along the path to that goal. God goes with us as we trust and obey Him. May God continue to bless this church with strong, courageous, faithful leadership who will help us all be closer to God and closer to one another in Christ.