The spiritual gift of leadership is mentioned in Romans 12:8, urging, "the one who leads, with zeal." The Christian who is gifted in leadership is to use his or her gift with a passion to help people grow in the Lord.
The Greek word used in this verse refers to one who rules or governs others. This could be used in the context of a church elder or deacon, but can also refer to believers gifted to lead in many other contexts.
What does it mean to be gifted in leadership? A leader is a person God has gifted to inspire and coordinate the actions of others. A godly leader will empower people to work together to achieve godly goals that honor God and help the lives of others. Believers have a variety of gifts. Leaders are those gifted in helping those with other gifts work together to accomplish greater impact.
However, godly leaders will recognize their role is one of serving the Lord. The apostle Paul opened his letters by calling himself a "servant of Christ Jesus." James, the half-brother of Jesus, led the first church in Jerusalem, yet introduced himself as, "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (James 1:1).
The Bible often uses the analogy of shepherd to highlight the relationship between a leader and followers. A good shepherd leads his sheep to safety and provides provisions and protections for his flock. The shepherd's goal is not his own status, but rather to serve and improve the condition of his sheep.
Likewise, a godly leader's goal is not to focus on personal pride or position, but is rather to lead followers toward godly goals and actions. The leading positions in the early church were designed to lead to maturity, unity, and love: "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Peter taught godly leaders with these words: "Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:2-4). Leaders are to shepherd, give direction, willingly serve, eagerly serve, and be examples to those in their care.
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