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Bible verses about Leadership
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:17-19

Genesis 3:17-19, God's judgment on Adam, covers men's leadership difficulties, his never-ending struggles to survive, and his "dust in the wind" mortality. All these came upon mankind, and males in particular, as a result of being cut off from contact with God, symbolized by the tree of life. The "human condition" is a long step below the idyllic conditions God made available to humanity in the Garden!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)


 

Genesis 49:8-10

Judah's brothers, the other tribes, are to bow down to Judah in the last days. Verse 8 invokes the image of a subject showing deference to his monarch, an image that sharpens in verse 10 with the use of a “scepter,” a symbol of a ruler's sovereignty, implying dominion, power, and authority. The symbol reinforces the point that Judah has a responsibility to rule, to lead.

If we are to believe what God predicts here, then we must ask, “Which nations have kings, queens, and leaders who have Judah as an ancestor?” According to God, when we find such a nation, we have a candidate for one of the tribes of the house of Israel.

Some commentators restrict these verses by claiming that the scepter image applies only to David, Solomon, and Jesus Christ. However, as Genesis 49:1 indicates, this prophecy is not just about history or the distant future, but it is specifically about today—the last days. In Genesis 49, God describes the identifying traits of each tribe, of each nation they have become, as they exist in our day.

David Guzik writes about Genesis 49:10 in his commentary on the Bible: “Each of these refer to the ruling position Judah will have among his brethren. He inherited the leadership aspect of the firstborn's inheritance.” This scepter promise was not only about rulership, but more precisely, that God gave Judah the gift of leadership.

It should not be surprising, then, that those who have Judah as an ancestor are often leaders in the fields they choose to enter. For example, in fields as diverse as politics, science, finance, business, entertainment, art, etc., we find descendants of Judah overrepresented as leaders, despite comprising only 2% of the American population. Even in the area of wealth, they represent 20% of the wealthiest 400 Americans. While some cry conspiracy, those who believe God and Genesis 49 instead see a God-ordained gift of leadership and fulfilled Bible prophecy.

In verse 10, Judah receives a special blessing and prominence. To Judah goes the promise of rulership culminating in the greatest and final ruler—Jesus Christ. The day will come when every knee will bow to a Jew—Jesus Christ (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10). While Judah was not promised physical greatness and prosperity, it received a promise of special prominence by being chosen as the tribe that would produce the Messiah, as well as rule and exercise leadership among the tribes of Israel.

Pat Higgins
The Nation of Israel—Biblical Israel? (Part Two)


 

Leviticus 1:10

The male goat represents strong-mindedness, singleness of purpose, and leadership rather than following. Interestingly, Scripture does not view the goat in nearly as good a light as a sheep. Perhaps this is so because people who exercise these characteristics are frequently offensive to their brethren and tend to go off in their own direction in their drive to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, a great deal of ego often accompanies leadership and initiative.

First, let us look at the good side. Jeremiah 50:8 contains this curious command to those living in Babylon. "Move from the midst of Babylon, go out of the land of the Chaldeans; and be like the rams [margin, male goats] before the flocks." Proverbs 30:29-31 from the NIV helps explain. "There are three things that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing; a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and a king with his army around him." The imagery of a he-goat in its positive sense is of leadership. If it is among a flock of sheep, it assumes command. Along with this is a sense of dignity, stately bearing, and undaunted courage—but also a strong inclination toward haughtiness.

We see the downside of the goat imagery in Matthew 25:33, 41 where Christ rejects the goats, representing people.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Two): The Burnt Offering


 

Leviticus 18:26-28

Because of man's lawlessness, this law of the universe has too often gone into effect. As a law of an impartial God, it will soon descend upon the nations of Israel in the form of "a nation of fierce countenance" (Deuteronomy 28:49-50). It is only a matter of time.

When a nation descends into perversions like homosexuality, its decline accelerates, its fibers weaken, and it becomes ripe for disaster, either natural or political/military. If the leadership of a nation participates in these perversions, the immorality spreads like a cancer among the people, accelerating the collapse. The leaders, already perverted personally, make immoral and unwise decisions regarding the nation's direction and conditions grow worse (Romans 1:26-32; II Timothy 3:13).

Knowing the nation's destruction is so near, Christians have a responsibility to "sigh and cry over all the abominations" (Ezekiel 9:4), preparing for the time when we will rule with Christ in a just and holy government (Revelation 5:10; I Peter 2:9; I Corinthians 6:2-3). Fortunately, God has made provision for homosexuals to repent, maybe not now but in the resurrection, if their minds have not been totally perverted (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4; 4:2; Hebrews 10:26-31).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The 'Gaying' of America


 

Numbers 27:1-11

Numbers 27 is the appeal of Zelophehad's five daughters to Moses in regard to their inheritance. Their father had died without any sons, and under the law of the time, his daughters were left without an inheritance. The commentators who go into this say that such an appeal was virtually unheard of because at that time a woman's station in society was only slightly higher than a child's. The child was always on the lowest social level, which is one reason why Jesus said we have to become as a child. All of society revolved around men.

Moses does three remarkable things. He not only hears the appeal of these ladies, he humbly admits that he did not know the answer. He takes it to God, and God not only hears it, He gives the ladies more than what they asked for, as all they had asked for was the land. God says, in effect, "Not only can you have the land, but you have the right to pass it on just as if you were Zelophehad's sons." It came under their power completely.

The point is that no leader under God can afford not to listen with fullest attention to the appeals of the lowly or to their counsel. He cannot afford to be in an attitude in which he will not listen to the people that he is supposed to be leading. It is a very important lesson and principle of law that comes out of Moses' humility, meekness, and willingness to hear, whereas other leaders of his day would likely have not even allowed those women to come into their presence.

There are only two cases in the life of Moses in which a woman came before him for either a judgment or in accusation. This was one of them, and the other one was his sister, Miriam. We know what happened to Miriam. It makes for an interesting contrast.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

The parental responsibility to provide correct guidance in leading their children is so important that God emphasizes it in Deuteronomy 6 immediately after Moses recounts the giving of the Ten Commandments and the formal ratification of what we know as the Old Covenant.

Child-training in the way of God is correct parental leadership. This passage establishes that God holds it to be a major responsibility not to be passed off to anyone else. To do this, the parents must practice the way of God to the best of their abilities in every aspect of life. In this way, the children are not only verbally taught God's way, but also witness it in action right in their own home. This is not happening in this nation, providing powerful evidence to all who believe God as to why it is crumbling from within. Godly leadership is produced within families practicing godly ways.

Most people are unaware that the word “leadership” does not appear even one time in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. “Leader” appears only three times, and all forms of “lead” appear only 81 times. There is a good reason for this: The focus of God's persuasion to live His way of life is on following it. The terms “follow,” “followed,” “follows,” “followers,” and “following” combined appear 258 times—three times more than all forms of “lead” combined. We are frequently urged to follow Christ, the way of God, or the examples of the righteous. We are also urged to imitate the apostle Paul and Christ (I Corinthians 11:1), another form of following.

What is most important about leadership is that leaders are in reality followers. They follow either some person who has set a pattern that brought him success or some way of doing things to achieve success in an endeavor, whether in business, athletics, scholastics, or a way of life that brings growth—and perhaps brings God glory.

This is God's concern. Christianity is a way of life that God greatly desires us to follow. In Acts 16:17, it is called “the way of salvation”; in Acts 18:25, “the way of the Lord”; in Acts 19:9, it is simply called “the Way.” Jesus was the greatest leader who ever lived, never sinning even one time, yet He declares in John 7:16, “My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent Me.” Jesus led. He was in fact the very pinnacle of leadership because He followed the way of God perfectly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part One)


 

Deuteronomy 17:14-20

God was planning that Israel would have a king, so He laid down these regulations to show how He expected the king to conduct himself within the office. These regulations are designed to ensure that the king does not overly elevate himself above the people and rule as an autocratic despot. Instead, he is to be thoroughly familiar with and guided by the attitudes and laws of God. He must comprehensively know that his own nature is just like those he serves and be humbled.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)


 

2 Chronicles 15:1-2

At the beginning of his reign and for many years, Asa was a very fine king. He was upright, and he turned the Jews around and persuaded them to worship God by the kind of high-quality leadership he gave to them. His leadership was moral, focused on God, and good. The prophet Azariah, the son of Oded, came out to meet him, to encourage him to continue his ways.

Verse 2 shows reciprocity, a principle that we must understand. The Bible shows clearly that God deals with us as we deal with Him, and if we are seeking Him and applying His way, He will respond in far greater measure to us in blessing. Nobody out-gives God. The principle of reciprocity, part of the much broader principle of "whatever one sows, one reaps," brings it down to a finer point and makes it very personal. We need to realize that this principle is at work in our relationship with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Knowing God


 

Proverbs 29:12

This proverb is the first of a set of three that runs through verse 14. The general theme concerns the integrity of government, while the middle proverb, verse 13, deals with the obvious fact that both ruler and ruled are equal in the sight of God. There is also a progression among the three verses from negative to positive, passing through the neutrality of verse 13. One can also see that wicked officials who become oppressors of the poor meet their match in a ruler who leads with integrity and truth.

Our concern, however, is with verse 12 specifically. A little understanding of the way a royal court works—in fact, any seat of leadership—will help explain how this happens. If the ruler bends an ear to gossip, insinuations, misrepresentations, unfounded assertions, manufactured "facts," or any other kind of falsehood, his administration will be founded on sand. His advisors and officials will soon learn that the easiest way to influence and power in the government is by telling the ruler what he wants to hear rather than what is actually true. That is how the game is played. In a very short time, the whole government will be corrupt. In other words, the underlings adjust themselves to their leader, and thus the Roman saying, Qualis rex, talis grex (“like king, like people”).

The New King James translates this verse as a conditional statement: "If . . . [then]." However, the Hebrew makes a plain statement of fact, as the Contemporary English Version renders it: “A ruler who listens to lies will have corrupt officials.” Wherever they are found, hierarchies have this property: The whole governmental structure reflects that character—or lack thereof—of the leader at the top. As American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it, "Every institution is but the lengthened shadow of some great man." This can be a wonderful asset when the man at the top possesses sterling character—and a terrible liability when he is corrupt, out of his depth, or a fool.

Parents need to be especially careful because of this fact of human nature. The children will not only reflect the attitudes, speech, and behaviors of their parents, but they will actively learn how to function under their parents' leadership and manipulate them to get what they want. And this happens much earlier in the children's lives than most parents realize; toddlers may not be able to articulate what they are doing, but they know when tears or smiles or some other trick will make mom or dad do their bidding. Many a mother has told a friend about an incident with her child, "The baby was just so cute that I had to give in!" The baby had won and learned how to make the mother dance to his/her tune.

The overall lesson is that a person in authority must lead by seeking the truth in all matters that come before him. It is foolish to decide a matter based on initial reports or only one side of a dispute, even if it sounds right. He should not act before taking the time and the effort to discover independently whether matters are as they have been presented. If a leader takes this prudent path, those under him will soon learn that it does not pay to tell falsehoods that will be found out, leading to their ouster. In an atmosphere of truth, corruption finds it much harder to gain a foothold, and everyone under such an administration of integrity has a greater opportunity to be satisfied.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


 

Isaiah 3:1-3

The prophet paints a picture of a society that, because of its rejection of God's way, has lost its ability to produce leaders in every sector. Someone must lead, thus the leadership positions are filled by children—immature, inexperienced, and self-involved adults who act like children—and women. These "women" can be literal women, or they can represent men who act like women.

The example Isaiah gives in verses 6-7 is quite picturesque. He imagines a group of people living amidst the crumbling remains of a once-proud city. One of them, unwilling himself to lead, implores his brother to take the responsibility of ruling those left after the repeated disasters that strike a wicked, disintegrating nation. The brother glances around and says, "Don't look at me! I've got nothing to offer! I have no idea how to even begin to fix this mess!" One is left with the impression that, since no one will stand up to lead, the desolation will continue.

God clearly points the finger of blame directly at the "women" who lead the people. They cause the nation to go astray in two ways: by implementing ungodly programs themselves or by weakly standing by as others do so. We have seen this happen in the nations of Israel over the past several decades, and the results are plain: They have rent the fabric of society and torn the nations' religious underpinnings to shreds.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Let Boys Be Boys!


 

Isaiah 3:4

In his day Isaiah prophesied of a worrisome circumstance that would befall Judah. This prophecy certainly seems as if it is being fulfilled in the United States and Canada today: "I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them" (Isaiah 3:4). He means that their leaders would be people of immature minds, people without wisdom, self-centered, concerned mostly with "looking good" and being acceptable to the right people. Furthermore, these leaders would not really be concerned with principles or long-range effects of policies and decisions but very willing to pass on to the next generation the problems their policies create. When God gave this prophecy to Isaiah, He had more than governmental leaders in mind. The same types of people are influential in business, education, religion, the professions, and science.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Scourge of AIDS and the Sacrifice of Christ


 

Isaiah 3:12

This sounds condemnatory to women in positions of leadership, but this is only part of the story. Earlier in the chapter, God heaps most of the blame on the heads of men. Because men, whom God created and appointed to lead their families and the nation, abdicate their roles and positions in the home and society, women and "children" (the inexperienced and unqualified) take up the slack. In acting outside the bounds of their created makeup, God shows, women and children tend to hasten a nation's fall.

Obviously, exceptions exist. Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain, led her nation to regain much of its lost power and prestige in the 1980s. However, her accomplishments also prove the point. Britain's "Iron Lady" succeeded because SHE GOVERNED LIKE A MAN! Christopher Caldwell, in an article titled "The Feminization of America," published in the Weekly Standard, December 23, 1996, concurs:

[T]op leadership positions in any society typically go to the more aggressive, not to the smarter. . . . Women who do make it to the top tend to lead "male" lives.

Thus, it is not a matter that women cannot lead, but that, generally, women should not lead. From the beginning, God placed men in the role of leader and provider (Genesis 3:16-19) and women as partners with their husbands and homemakers (Genesis 2:18; 3:16). Paul's instructions in Titus 2:4-5 verify that these roles did not change under the New Covenant.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
A Woman's World


 

Isaiah 56:10-12

Does this nation not sound like America? In verse 9, God calls for the nations to devour His people. Its leaders are blind to the nation's real needs because they are thinking of their lusts instead of speaking out and acting on issues of morality. They blindly plunge on, proclaiming that it will be better tomorrow!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Jeremiah 30:18-20

God will destroy the nations to which Israel and Judah are scattered, and He will correct Israel and Judah in measure, as verse 11 says. But when the punishment is done, He will bring His people back to the land that He promised them and give them rest and peace. A number of other prophecies concerning the Second Exodus relate how God will bless the land, which will once again produce abundantly. Israel and Judah will have the Promised Land, they will have peace—because this time their enemies will be completely destroyed, which Israel failed to do the first time—and they will have prosperity. They will also be blessed numerically, as the remnant begins to multiply.

But this time the peace and prosperity will last, because two factors will be different. First, Israel and Judah will have perfect leadership: Jesus Christ will be King, and David will be His prince (Ezekiel 37:24-25; Jeremiah 23:3-7; Hosea 3:5; Micah 2:12-13). Corrupt or ambivalent leadership will no longer lead Israel astray; instead, the leaders will set the example of righteousness for the people to follow. Additionally, the twelve original apostles will be resurrected and sit as judges over the twelve tribes, ensuring that proper judgment is given (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

Second, Israel and Judah will both make the New Covenant, meaning that they will be given the Holy Spirit, which will enable them to keep the law in its spiritual intent (Jeremiah 31:31-34). They will be given a new heart, and will finally be able to know their God (Ezekiel 11:17-20; 36:24-29).

David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part Two)


 

Ezekiel 22:8

Idolatry and Sabbath breaking are accusations directed squarely at leaders (specifically at the ministry) for poor leadership and failing to live and teach the things of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)


 

Ezekiel 22:24

Among all Israel, God can find no man who will lead the people in His way, so He allows the natural processes of destruction and degeneration to occur. Once Israel is sufficiently weak from her own ungodly ideas and behaviors, He will send the Assyrian to finish the job (Isaiah 10:5-11).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Let Boys Be Boys!


 

Hosea 4:1-2

It has become axiomatic that American politics is corrupt. Elected leaders from dog catcher to President have used their positions to influence decisions, get rich, and stifle the competition. This is hardly new, but recent political corruption has taken a new twist that should be highly alarming. This twist is the claim that illegal actions are not wrong, just indictable.

The Clinton White House, including the President, Vice President, and First Lady, have all made this claim during their scandals. Former President Clinton says that requesting political contributions on federal property may be contrary to the 1883 law prohibiting it, but since other Presidents have done it, he has really done nothing wrong. It is just the way things are done and have always been done. Al Gore made a similar statement in defense of his taking large, second-party contributions from Buddhist nuns during a campaign fund-raiser. It is not wrong to take such donations of foreign money, he claims, though it may be against campaign fund-raising rules. Hillary Clinton also played this game during the White House Travel Office scandal. Without an indictment, she considered herself guilty of no wrongdoing.

They could make these claims all day, but they would not be taken seriously unless others in political leadership gave them credence. As the many investigations, inquiries, hearings, independent counsels, and special prosecutors indicate, official Washington has not fought this trend. Political commentators, such as Washington Post editor Meg Greenfield, are beginning to take note of it:

Everything is illegal; but nothing is wrong. In fact, there is no wrong. To great numbers of people the very concept appears to sound antiquated, simplistic, even repressive. There is only being indictable or subject to fines or penalties under law, raps you can beat as distinct from the kind with moral force that you cannot beat no matter what the jury says about the relevance of some obscure section of the law. . . . The silence from all our leaders on this subject—the moral rights and wrongs of what has been going on—has been total and chilling. . . . Right? Wrong? What's that? (Washington Post, September 29, 1997)

What makes this especially revealing is that these elected leaders have little or no concept of right and wrong. They are not merely proclaiming their innocence; they sincerely have no basis for determining right from wrong! Having rejected traditional, biblical moral standards, many of our leaders have no stable moral code to fall back on. They handle each situation based on its own merits, historical precedent, and their own experiences, feelings, desires, and needs.

Seeing the examples of the "leadership" in the highest offices of the land, the general populace has begun to embrace a similar moral ambiguity. Polling data shows Clinton and Gore suffered very little in terms of popularity and approval during and after recent scandals. This indicates that Americans basically agree with their leaders' actions. This "trickle-down" morality is having and will continue to have a disastrous effect on American society.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Right? Wrong?


 

Amos 6:7-8

Here God exposes the root cause of Israel's problems: Pride brought forth their self-pleasing religion, their overconfidence in their strength and their self-indulgent lifestyles. Where were their trust and faith in God? Pride causes people to resist and reject Him.

God saw this unwarranted pride most acutely in Israel's leadership. Most of this chapter is aimed directly at the leaders, upon whose conduct the nation's destiny is largely dependent. God shows in the Bible that the leader of any institution—nation, church, business, family—can make or break it. If a leader because of righteousness comes under the blessing of God, then the people are also blessed. But if the leader is cursed by God because of his wickedness, his people likewise come under the curse.

When Judah had a good and righteous king like Josiah (I Chronicles 34-35), the nation prospered, but under evil Manasseh (I Chronicles 33), the nation declined. In this century, England experienced a year of turmoil in 1936 over the determination of Edward VIII to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Yet, his brother, George VI, refusing to leave London during World War II, rallied the nation during its darkest hour. This principle of leadership holds true in any enterprise from large to small.

We can also see this in the second commandment: "You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children" (Exodus 20:5). The fathers—the leaders—and the children both suffer. When the fathers are blessed or cursed by God, so are the children. The difference is only in the measure of responsibility that each bears.

In life, everyone is a leader as well as a follower, depending on the circumstance. Amos shows that a leader should never be complacent and content with the way things are because pride follows—and shortly after it, a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Leaders of nations bear a great responsibility because, if they allow morals to collapse, all their military prowess and vaunted technology will not save them. Above all else, the first consideration of a leader is to be moral.

But the Israelite leaders of Amos' day were people who first considered their own reputation and condition. They compared themselves with others instead of God (II Corinthians 10:12). In ignoring their spiritual health, they could neither lead and guide the nation, nor help and counsel others. Since they had failed so horribly in their duty, God says the leadership would be among the first to be led away as captives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Matthew 3:7-10

Notice that his scathing attack is against both the Pharisees and Sadducees: The Pharisees had public power because they tended to be successful people in private life. In spite of this, they also had the admiration of the people. The Sadducees were largely from the priesthood and thus controlled the Temple. Consequently, they pretty much controlled the religious life of the people. Yet, because they also tended to be wealthy but haughty in disposition, the feelings of the people were prejudiced against them.

John courageously confronts the establishment's leadership. His was an unpopular message of judgment aimed directly at the powerful, and they did not take kindly to what he said. "And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him" (Luke 7:29-30).

Matthew 21:32 confirms John's rejection when Jesus speaks to the chief priests and elders at the Temple: "For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him." The powerful knew John was speaking about them, so in disdainful anger, they rejected him, while the publicans and harlots accepted his teaching.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Elijah and John the Baptist


 

Matthew 10:2

Peter is the only one designated as the first. He is not only named first, he is called "the first" by Matthew, who was also an apostle—and an apostle ought to know who his human leader is.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Matthew 20:20-28

Here, the disciples show they understood what Christ was doing, but they immediately let the idea of such awesome power go to their heads by vying for the very top positions. Christ explains that His disciples must use authority in a godly fashion, not for self-aggrandizement as the Gentiles had used it.

Staff
Who Are the 'Guests at the Wedding'?


 

John 13:12-16

Because of their incessant bickering about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom (Luke 22:24-27), Jesus gave the disciples an object lesson designed to show them what their real position was under Him. He tells them, "He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves" (verse 26). He shows them that they must be willing to do whatever task—even the most menial—that is necessary for the good of their brothers. This should have put them in the proper attitude for the Passover's greater purpose, Christ's sacrifice for our forgiveness and redemption.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Footwashing


 

John 13:12-15

The footwashing a commanded ceremony for Christians. It is an object lesson whose meaning we are to inculcate into our lives and practice at every opportunity! As Christ served us, so should we serve others. The apostle John writes in I John 2:6, "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Footwashing


 

John 21:3

Who is the leader? Who decides for the group? They all looked to the leader—Peter—and if he was going fishing, they all were. They followed the pattern.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Acts 10:44-48

The important thing here is something that is not even mentioned. No circumcision is required, which becomes important later. To whom does God reveal that one need not be circumcised to receive the Holy Spirit? They are all astonished, but Peter gives the authoritative answer, and it is to him that God speaks throughout these events. God does not reveal this to the other eleven but to Peter, first among equals, preeminent among them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Acts 15:1

In Acts 10:44-48, God did not require circumcision of the Gentile converts, and so a dispute arose in the church regarding circumcision and all it represented.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Acts 17:11

The Bereans are models of right-minded followers. Though zealous to hear, they did not thoughtlessly or uncritically accept what Paul said. They first tested it for themselves from the Scriptures and then submitted themselves to following it.

Pursuing this course avoids the potentially disastrous "blind leading the blind" syndrome (Luke 6:39). Jesus' statement warns us to be careful who we follow. If a leader can see no more than those who follow, it spells trouble for both. The Jews fell into this spiritual trap of presuming themselves as guides to the blind, though their lives did not qualify them for such a responsibility (Romans 2:19-24).

It also warns about the leadership of Jesus' followers. A Christian cannot hope to act as a guide to others unless he himself clearly sees where he is going.

John W. Ritenbaugh
'I'll Never Follow Another Man!'


 

1 Corinthians 14:33

God continuously, from the beginning of the Book on, reveals Himself working through one man at a time. Does God send two or three or five ambassadors speaking somewhat different things to the same country at the same time? That would be confusion, and "God is not the author of confusion" (I Corinthians 14:33). He avoids confusion by speaking through one voice, and we need to understand that. We need to believe it and make it a part of the operation of our lives. When we become confused about the voice God is speaking through, the church tends to blow apart, and people go their own way.

To restore the holiness of His name and to guarantee that we enter into His Kingdom, God leads us into groups where we can continue to be sustained until we learn this bitter but very vital lesson and submit to Him by following the voice that He sent into this world to restore and preach the doctrine to which He wants us to conform. He does this so that we will be transformed into the image that He wants by our making right and holy choices.

What kind of leadership would it show God to have if He spoke in a confused tongue, as it were, having two or more men in the same area saying different things about the path to the Kingdom of God? Doctrine is that recipe that will form the correct product in the end—if it is believed and applied in our lives through the choices we make.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

2 Corinthians 10:13-16

Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. It was his province, his area of authority, his area of influence. Paul says that he lived within it and worked within it. He did not go into other men's areas to extend his influence beyond what was given to him. Peter was made preeminent over them all, and then as the work grew, God divided it up, saying in effect, "Paul, concentrate on this. Peter, concentrate on that." They had leadership in those areas, and it was almost as though the two shall never meet.

The picture that appears from all of this is that, not only did Paul adhere to the sphere of influence that God had given him, but so did the other twelve apostles. They divided up the world, went to their areas, and conducted their spiritual and governmental responsibilities only within their regions. That is the only way God could keep order over a worldwide work at the time.

The people who responded to the teaching of those men in those areas were not confused by other voices speaking to them. Each stayed within his own sphere of influence, the one that had been given by God. In that area, he was the top authority, as far as the doctrines that were to be followed, and in this way, God could keep order. Quite likely, the apostles were all speaking the same thing, yet by this method, confusion in terms of government was kept to a minimum. The people were not confused about whom they were to look to in their region for authority in matters pertaining to their relationship with God. It is a wonderful system.

God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). Doctrine was put into the church as the work expanded in the way that He has always done it - as He did through Moses, through whom He gave the first five books; as He did through Samuel, who may very well have been the author or main editor of all the books from Joshua to II Samuel; then through others whom God used to add to the scriptures so that we might have the complete Bible today.

So, it is God who puts doctrine into His church by the man He chooses to be His ambassador, His representative to those who have been called. That keeps matters in order. Our job is to have faith in God's decision and in the pattern that He reveals in His Word. That will keep us on track if we choose to make the right choices.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Ephesians 5:21

Submitting is an act of following. Any leader who does not submit to the wise counsel of those he leads is plunging the whole organization into disaster.

John W. Ritenbaugh
'I'll Never Follow Another Man!'


 

1 Timothy 2:12-15

Paul comments on the woman's curse in this passage, a section of Scripture that has come under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years. What is immediately striking about Paul's reasoning and conclusion on Genesis 3:16 regarding the church is that he upholds it! Modern theological thought would reason that the effects of "the Fall" are nullified under Christ's blood, but Paul says, "Not so!" They may be diminished, but not eradicated.

Paul cites the fact that God created Adam before Eve as his proof that God intended the man to lead. He backs this up by showing that while Eve proved subject to deception—thus, she was the "weaker" of the two—Adam, whose sin was sheer disobedience, did not. Thus, Eve's sin establishes that woman should not take the lead from man; that route, by the biblical example of our first parents, generally leads to problems. The apostle concludes that a woman, formed by God as a helper to Adam and more inclined to being deceived, should not teach or lead men in the church.

On the other hand, as Ephesians 5:25-29, 33 plainly shows, Christian men must no longer "rule over" their wives. Loving authority is not domineering or despotic, but humble, caring, gentle, kind, and patient. In the same vein, Christian women should submit to and respect their husbands (verses 22-24, 33). Submission is not manipulative or grudging, but done in faith, respect, and humility.

How, though, is a woman "saved in childbearing"? The word Paul uses for "saved" (sozo) can be used for both physical deliverance from danger and spiritual salvation. How does faith, love, holiness, and self-control prevent or nullify the physical dangers of pregnancy? Conversely, is not salvation by grace? Which salvation does the apostle mean here?

Neither. A third explanation fits the context better. Paul's main concern in this section is proper order within the church. Men, he writes, should pray and teach. Women should adorn themselves modestly and do good works, but they should not be teaching publicly or leading men. Verse 15 explains what their primary concern should be: "childbearing." Thus, it means that much of God's judgment of women will be based on how well they perform their God-given role in bearing children.

To us, this sounds quite misogynistic, but to the Greek speaker "childbearing" (teknogonia) covers a great deal more ground than just "popping out babies." The Strong's Concordance definition shows that the extended meaning is "maternity (the performance of maternal duties)." W. E. Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, agrees, writing that it "impl[ies] the duties of motherhood" (p. 190). The Twentieth Century New Testament translates this clause, "But women will find their salvation in motherhood."

Paul's exhortation aims to bring marriage and family back to what God intended of men and women before Adam and Eve's sin. Just as God will judge men according to how well they fulfill their roles as husbands (leaders) and teachers, so He will judge women by their performance as wives and mothers. Since salvation, particularly the period of sanctification, is a process that covers our entire converted lifetimes, how well we fulfill our God-given responsibilities within our families will make a difference in God's judgment. Paul says we must perform these duties in faith, love, holiness, and self-control—just as we must do everything else in our Christian lives.

To summarize, then, the apostle simply states that God will judge and reward a woman according to her growth as a Christian within her appointed sphere of influence: her family. God Himself has drawn the lines between the sexes, and we should do our best to fulfill our roles with excellence, not rebellion or complaint. In this way, we will make progress in reversing the effects of the curses in the Garden of Eden.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Two)


 

Titus 2:1-5

God obviously saw the ongoing need within the church to have clear leadership and education, not only from ordained elders, but also from the older, more experienced, God-fearing people in the church, who should lead by example and exhortation. It is a major responsibility that God expects from all involved, both from those teaching as well as from those being taught.

Staff
Precious Human Treasures


 

1 Peter 5:1-5

Notice all the words that suggest leading and/or following: elder(s), shepherd, flock, serving, overseers, lords, entrusted, and examples. This clearly establishes that God's church is a body in which He has placed leaders to oversee and care for His people. Further, the leadership is to provide examples for them to follow.

The Bible nowhere anticipates independent Christians in its instructions, but it always assumes the body has ministers given by Christ to provide teaching and guidance. Too frequently, people separate from one group then regroup around a person whom Christ has not appointed to teach His Word. It is not that this person cannot teach at all but that Christ has not given him the gifts to teach His people in His behalf. He was not placed in the body for that purpose. Steady spiritual degeneration within that group occurs.

John W. Ritenbaugh
'I'll Never Follow Another Man!'


 

Find more Bible verses about Leadership:
Leadership {Nave's}
 




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