Paul’s Teaching on Leadership

In 1 Thessalonians 2 Paul describes Biblical leadership with three examples. He describes it as a mother, brother, and father. In each example he uses three different words to express the concepts of leadership. In his example as a mother he says a leader is gentle as a nursing mother, caring tenderly for her own children, and sharing even one’s own life. The word gentle was frequently used by Greek writers as characterizing a nurse with trying children or a teacher with hard to manage students (back breaking students). The word caring comes from “thalpo” meaning to soften by heat or to keep warm. Therefore a leader is one who deals gentle and protects even when the people are rebellious. In his example of a brother he says a leader works longer, harder, and takes more pain than anyone .. The leader’s work involves painful effort and leaves one wearied. In his example of the father the leader exhorts, encourages (to put courage in), and urges (to provoke). Paul was this type of leader with them for one purpose; v.12 so that they would become leaders and fulfill their purpose (Mt.28:18-20).

In Ephesians 4:1-3 Paul gives seven attitudes that describe the Biblical leader. First of all he says that the Biblical leader lives with a lowliness of mind. Secondly the leader has an attitude of all meekness. Lowliness of mind speaks of submission to mankind, but meekness speaks of submission to God Kind. Notice that these two words are combined by “and”. The third attitude he has is with all longsuffering which means to suffer long with brethren that make you suffer. The fourth attitude the leader has is forbearance with one another. The leader bears for another. The fifth attitude is love. This is unconquerable good will. (John 21 Peter and Jesus) The sixth attitude is diligence, or hotly pursuing. The last attitude is the attitude of serenity. It gives harmony and order. This attitude is what brings order. When one has all these qualities there will be the unity that v.4-6 speak of. Paul goes on and gives names to these leaders that he speaks of; Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (v.11). He continues by saying that their #1 responsibility is to build a people to fulfill the prime directive (Mt.28:18-20). Paul urged them to have these qualities in order to walk in a manner worthy of their calling v.l. Their calling was to go and make disciples of all the nations …

In 1 Timothy 3 Paul continues to describe the Biblical leader by the word overseer. The leader is not only serviceable externally, but also internally. A leader is above reproach, moral, calm, controlled by God (meek), finds favor with men, gives to strangers in need, able to teach, and leads his family well. The leader is not prideful.

In Titus 1 Paul says the leader is blameless, follows God’s will, sober in mind, a lover of good, just, holy, sound in doctrine, and able to convict.

Paul’s teaching on leadership was the same as Jesus’. ll all has to do with an attitude of service in order to fulfill the prime directive which is spreading the gospel.

Marty Hale

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