Spiritual Leadership

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor 3:17  ESV)

In providence, the sermon I heard yesterday was on Spiritual leadership, taking from Acts 6.

The problem was an administrative problem but it was a problem.  When widows were being fed, one demographic was fed, while another was not...how to solve it.

Which is more important?

spiritual LEADERSHIP.....or.....SPIRITUAL leadership?

We can tend to see our spirituality as one aspect of our person, along with psychological, emotional, physical, mental, sexual, social, etc.


We can see our spirituality as encompassing all that we do.  Anything that we do that is of the Spirit IS spiritual.

The apostles understood their job to be one of discernment and proclamation of the Gospel message.  Also understanding that in their apostolic leadership role, they could not do everything; things (such as the group of widows) were slipping through the cracks.

Rather than wait on tables, the apostles decided to choose a group of men to do take care of the administrative and day-to-day details.

But wait! Wait on tables?  Couldn't they have hired that done?

No....no.  The men who were chosen were not any men, even the men chosen for this task were "of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom."

It is a false dichotomy to set up

  • the spiritual
  • against the physical.


  • the leadership
  • against the servant

In reality, it is

  • the spiritual act of leadership in discerning and proclaiming the Word and
  • the spiritual act of leadership in administration and serving

Everything can be spiritual.

  • The Apostles were doing a spiritual job
  • the Seven were doing a spiritual job.

Were all of these men equal in salvation? Yes.

Were all of these men equal in personhood?  Yes.

Were all of these men doing vital jobs?  Yes.

Were the Seven under the authority of the Apostles?  Yes.

Were they doing the same job?  No.

Were they supposed to be doing the same job?  No.

Were they all working in the Spirit?  Yes.

Does this make the seven "less" than the apostles?  Less equal?  In importance?  No...feeding the poor and caring for those less fortunate is a command.  In salvation?  No, there is no Scriptural evidence that the Apostles were more "saved" than the Seven.  In personhood?  No, they were all human.  In authority?  Yes.  The Apostles were given authority over the church, while the Seven were given authority over administration under the Apostles.

So, rather than seeing a group of leaders (spiritual) and a group of servants (physical) what we have are two groups of men, both doing spiritual jobs, both serving God in vital ways, both equal in personhood and salvation, but not equal in authority.

The pastor compared the Apostles and the Seven to the church today:

He likened the Apostles to the elders and pastors.  They are the ones who are responsible for discerning the will of God for the congregation.  They are the ones responsible for church discipline.  Even within that group, there is leadership structure.  The elders are responsible for the discerning of the long-term and overall direction, while the pastors are the ones who are more responsible for leading day-to-day activities.

He compared the Seven to the board of deacons, the ministry facilitation and operations staff.  They are the ones who carry out the direction of the elders, under the leadership of pastors.

Are any of the jobs less "spiritual"?  No.  Are the elders and pastors more important than the deacons and staff?  No, they all fill vital shoes.

Is the child with Down Syndrome who passed out bulletins any less spiritual than the pastor?  I think the pastor would say no?  Is the child less valuable, less equal in the eyes of God?  I think the pastor would say no.

Is the spiritual act of servant-hood less equal than the spiritual act of  pastoring?

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17 thoughts on “Spiritual Leadership

  1. Sue


    I totally love working with Down's syndrome kids, teaching them to read, etc. I am working on a science project for one right now.

    But, if my child needs brain surgery, then I want qulifications to be based on merit not on gender. Just like exegesis, it should be be based on merit not on gender which it is in the comp. camp, and it sure shows.

    I refuse to have someone who doesn't know the Biblical languages as well as I do, tell me what to believe is in the Bible, just because he is a man.

    Call me arrogant, I don't care, lots of people do. I have been edited off blogs lots of times, but I don't get a lot of email telling me about all the mistakes I make in the language dept.

  2. Markus

    If you don't mind my asking, Sue, what is your language experience. Or did you post it somewhere else and I missed it?

  3. Markus, for the record, I am familiar and don't question Sue's language experience.

    But it is known that scholars on both sides of this aisle have great knowledge, learning and experience and still come to different conclusions.

  4. Sue

    Near Eastern Studies and Classics in Toronto. A little interaction with the McLuhan Centre for Commication, that is for the nerd in you, 😉

    And SIL. Now I teach Special Needs and I love it.

  5. Sue

    And I can't spell. Oh well.

    Egalitarian scholars include Ben Witherington, Gordon Fee, F.F. Bruce, Richard Bauckham, France, N. T. Wright, Dick Longenecker, etc. Many, many more. The only complementarian language scholar I know is Waltke and I am working on him.

    J. I. Packer, Piper and Grudem, etc are not language scholars. Who else?

    Anyway, the point is that egalitarians obviously have excellent scholars on their side, so there is no reason that a woman should be a complementarian unless she really wants to be. Good exegesis does not require it.

    My main concern is that physical and psychological abuse be headed off before it gets started. So young women need to be given the goods on how to stand up for themselves and when we know they are safe, then they need to learn to yield in a mutually sacrificial relationship.

  6. Markus

    "Egalitarian scholars include Ben Witherington, Gordon Fee, F.F. Bruce, Richard Bauckham, France, N. T. Wright, Dick Longenecker, etc. Many, many more. The only complementarian language scholar I know is Waltke and I am working on him. "

    Did you study with these men or are you referring to their books?
    Thanks for answering my questions.

  7. Sue

    I meant that these people are egalitarian scholars.

    I don't mind answering wpecific questions, but I don't want it to look like a resume. Is there something in particular you want to know?

  8. Sue

    Oops, let me be more specific. I have taken courses recently with Fee and Waltke. I have had interaction in emails with Wallace and Burer, Grudem via CBMW, Kostenberger on his blog, etc.

    I have not read Schreiner but my impression is that his work along with Kostenberger's is mainly derivative of the work of other scholars that I have read. Are you thinking of anything in particular.

    I know who Carson is and that's about it.

  9. Markus

    Thanks for the info. I was just wondering what writings and scholars you had interacted with. It helps to get a feel for where you are coming from and where our reading and study might intersect. No resumes needed.

  10. Sue

    I have often interacted with the arguments of particular scholars on specific issues, beyond what I have mentioned. I am fairly familiar with Schreiner's main tenets because lots of people quote him to me, but usually the arguments depend on some anterior study by someone else. Does that make sense?

  11. He likened the Apostles to the elders and pastors.

    I don't quite see the association.

    Does the NT give evidence of apostles ever taking up as elders and pastors?

    I thought the Apostles appointed pastors/elders and moved on.

    I suppose, if I had to make a comparison, I might liken apostles to today's missionaries and church planters.

    But I'm not Pentecostal or Fivefold, obviously.

  12. There isn't a direct parallel, but more of a likening to the "long term planner/discernn and proclaimer" vs. the day to day "hands and feet / doers"

    It is pretty clear, though that even though they moved on, they still have oversight, otherwise we wouldn't have all of Paul's letters.

  13. After my test tonight, I'll pick through these com boxes and try to address points that I've missed (any that are missed are simply missed, not ignored)

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