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October 15, 2017

Grow Together

When you think of the leaders of the church, who comes to mind? Are you a leader? Listen or read to find out.
Duration:23:18

Mike Gerhardt, October 15, 2017, Community – Outline #3, Grow Together, Ephesians 4:11-16. Introduction: playing follow the leader always got me into trouble. Even Simons Says can be dangerous. Doing something on command from a leader takes trust and respect. A symbol of the army was this: a soldier out in front leading his troop into the battle. We Americans don't like that, to be ordered to follow, told what to do. Good leaders are hard to find because they receive criticism, ridicule, verbal abuse, and deliberate personal attacks - who really wants that. As I listen to the media, there seem to be too many imperfect leaders and far too many perfect non-followers. However, a true leader usually knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. A leader should take more than their share of the blame and less than their share of the credit when things go well. But if you are waiting for a perfect leader, you'll have a long wait. The Bible has many examples of great leaders who were not perfect: Moses wasn't allowed into the Promised Land for his disobedience in striking the rock for water; David wasn't allowed to build God's temple because of his bloody past, he also sinned in adultery and murder; Jonah was not even interested in bringing the message of salvation to Nineveh; Peter denied Jesus; Paul disputed with Mark, Barnabas, Peter, and was somewhat demanding leader. Leaders are not perfect. One symbol of the US Army Infantry is a foot soldier leading his brothers in arms into combat. It illustrates leadership by example. In the church, there must be servant leaders who lead by doing.

Paul explained that Jesus in the Holy Spirit gave certain members gifts to challenge, train and lead His Church. God empowers a few to lead the many into the spiritual battle around us for the souls of humankind.

Who are the Leaders in the Church? Are they the loudest, the most opinionated, or the most popular? Well according to this passage, they are gifted by God to be leaders. The leaders are not simply talented. There are five gifts listed here, many others in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. Bible Scholars do not believe these lists are exhausted. You may very well be gifted for changing diapers in the nursery or teaching Junior high boys. This supernatural motivation from God is a gift. These 2 gifts aren’t listed in scripture but I am sure the Holy Spirit has a special gift for service in mind especially for you. The best way to find out your gifted ministry is to sign up and start serving. God will give you the qualifications to the ministry he has called you; not to get brownie points but to do his Kingdom work. Leaders are to be qualified not necessarily politically correct. Romans 12:4-8 but all members do not have the same function; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 Now there are diversities of gifts; the Holy Spirit distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 also have qualifications for Leaders and Elders being blameless, honest, sober, disciplined, just, able to teach, not a new Christian, humble, and servant minded. This means that leaders are to be especially motivated not selfishly directed. Church leaders are to be gifted, and motivated. But what do church leaders do? J. Oswald Sanders in his book called Spiritual Leadership wrote: One definition of leadership is the ability to recognize the special abilities and limitations of others, combined with the capacity to fit each one into the job where they will do their best. This definition is good for a corporation. Church leaders are gifted by the Holy Spirit.

What Do They Do? In verses 12 & 13 list several duties of leaders: they are to equip the saints and prepare them for works of service. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Being complete in Christ is the goal of the leaders of this church. How is this to be done? We work to focus on doctrinal unity and corporate maturity. Remember the theme of Ephesians is unity between Jews and Greeks.

We looked at the phrase: be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God from Eph. 3:19 and now Eph. 4:13 attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. The Greek could be translated into perfection, complete, able to exhibit the virtue and character of Jesus- this being the goal of leaders for the church. Teaching them to be unified to keep the peace. Chuck Swindoll wrote: God, our wise and creative Maker, has been pleased to make everyone different and no one perfect. The sooner we appreciate and accept that fact, the deeper we will appreciate and accept one another. It is a sad fact we live in an age where attitudes prevail that leaving is easier than staying -whether it is a job, a college, a sport, a marriage or a church; we have come to believe leaving is the best course of action. That, my friends, is a lie of Satan. We need power from God to stick it out, to make it work, to have the commitment needed, and the maturity to stay the course in these areas of life. Too often we take the easy way out and just leave. Leaders are gifted to be there to help you in making mature decisions to work it through and endure the crisis.

What does the rest of the church do? Read verses 14-16. Become equipped. Verse 14 have doctrinal stability to be no longer be led astray. Verse 15 have functional maturity to grow up, speaking the truth in love. Verse 16 have spiritual amity (peaceful harmony) to be edifying one another. Another thing for church members is to follow their gifted leaders, to obey. Here are specific directions to the church in respect of their leaders: 1 Timothy 5:17-18 Leaders are worthy of double honor for their labor in the word and doctrine, (not special honor, because we are to honor all) and the laborer is worthy of his wages (a reference to giving to supply the needs of the leaders over the church). Hebrews 13:17 simply states Obey those over you, be submissive for they watch over your soul and must give an account. 1 Peter 5:5 Submit yourselves to your elders.

I don't have to obey anyone but Jesus. Yet the Word of God says to obey your leaders. What if your leaders are imperfect? Well, they are!! Do we have to obey them? God is looking for men and women of faith. Have faith in God to put in charge of His church, imperfect people to do His work and to obey them takes great faith in God that He knows what he is doing. Case in point: Jesus left His brand-new church in the hands of the disciples who were not perfect…

When you see something which you think is wrong, go to a leader not as a critic, not as someone who says if this doesn't change I’m leaving, but as someone who is humble in spirit, filled with God's spirit with an attitude of how can I help in this situation. What a difference is made when we speak the truth in love.

Kids use to bring in something to school for show and tell. My son brought me to his class on career day. There was a dad who was a plumber who fixes broken pipes, one who was a doctor who fixes broken bones; so, Brandon at 8 years old, said: my dad is a pastor and he fixes broken relationships (I think I coached him little). Show the people who are your leaders in this church your love and your respect, for they are called to a great work of fixing the most important relationship, our relationship with God through Jesus our Lord. Be proactive in learning the Word of God. If you’re dependent on only the preaching each Sunday to feed you God’s truth each week, that is way too long between meals. Take time to get into a Life Group. Take time to be part of the solution. This is being mature in Christ.

When I am driving on a three-lane highway, I frequently see signs that say slow traffic stay to the right. Every so often I come upon three cars, side by side doing 63 MPH in a 65 MPH zone. You may not believe this but that frustrates me. I call that a roadblock. I want to get somewhere and they won’t let me. After 30 years of ministry, I have worked with many great and godly leaders, many sitting right here right now. I have also had many great and godly followers, servants of God to the core, willing to do whatever is necessary. But I have also experienced some whom I’d say would be great roadblocks. Ask yourself has God gifted you to be a leader or has God gifted you to be a follower? If you are neither than ask yourself, am I a roadblock? By the way that is not a gift from God. Let’s pray.