What makes someone a spiritual leader? Who have you seen demonstrate that kind of leadership? How so?
We’re entering a new Monday series today, focused on spiritual leadership*. The fact is, you’re all leaders, whether you have a spiritual gift of leadership or because God’s blessed you by putting you where others rely on you. No matter how you got here, you’re leading in some way even now, and God wants to help you lead better.
And that’s not just in church—that’s family, work, even among your friends. You’re here today because God has grown and matured you, and whether you see yourself as a leader or not, someone does. So let’s honor the faith that others have placed in us. And while we’re at it, let’s better understand at how we can honor those God has already raised up as our leaders.
Grab yourself a coin, and hang onto it as you read. I’ll explain why later. In the meantime, let’s look at a couple different examples of leadership within one passage:
So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well (Luke 7: 6-9, NIV)
What different types of leadership do you see here? How is that authority both recognized and honored by others here? What happens, as a result?
Now, for a tougher one—especially this morning*:
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”…
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light….
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor (1 Peter 2:4-6, 9, 13-17, NIV)
• What connections do you see here between trusting God’s authority and trusting human authority? How might all authority be seen as spiritual?
• So, does rejecting human authority mean rejecting Jesus? Why or why not?
• Take note the coin in your hand. In light of the answers you just gave, how much value do really you attach to being a leader?
• When have you been able to take the lead with something that really mattered to you? What did you learn from the experience?
• Without naming names, who’s a spiritual leader you know—who truly loves God—but whom you nonetheless have trouble working with? How can you see God working in him or her, and how can you honor that more openly?
• This time we’ll name names: How do you still struggle with seeing yourself as a spiritual leader? What would you want God to change about you right now?
Look again at the coin in your hand. Think of it as the responsibility God’s entrusted you with—again, no matter what that looks like right now. Take a minute to silently ask God to help you value what He’s trusted you with, and to also help you recognize the value He’s placed upon others through the responsibilities He’s given them. I’ll throw my own prayer in here:
Lord, we thank You for raising each of us up and trusting us to represent you in our churches, our homes, our workplaces, our relationships—even if we can’t understand why You would. We also thank You for the leaders you’ve given us. Help us to honor and trust their judgment, knowing that ultimate they’re accountable to You even more than to us. Help us to trust You in the circumstances you’ve placed us, and to let You lead all of us in the way You see fit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
*** P.S. It’s worth noting that most of this content was written two years ago and this was “just its time” to repurpose it. Perhaps God’s timing as well. And as always, a reminder to myself before anyone else….
So, are we to honor the Emperor even when he’s Quaddafi, let alone John Boehner? I think not but, then again, I COULD BE WRONG!!!!!!!!
I TOLD you not to read it/you wouldn’t like it. Heck, *I* don’t like my message that much. 🙂 And we can get into any number of legitimate exceptions both biblical and historical (Bonhoeffer’s assassination attempt of Hitler, Peter before the Sanhedrin, Rack/Shack/Benny before Nebuchadnezzar, the American Revolution FCOL), but that’s why this is a blog and not a book. 🙂