The Responsibility of Leadership – Olu Jegede

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Acts 14

21They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.

The experiment of the Christian Church was started by the Holy Spirit over 2000 years ago and it seems to have worked, indeed, a couple millenia later we have millions of churches in literally every corner of the face of the earth, with 20% of the world professing faith in Jesus Christ

Yet this movement started quite organically, without much structure or apparent strategy.  Or so we may have thought.  However, when we read the gospels and the Acts of the apostles from the perspective of learning the growth strategy of the father, we see that God relied on his people.  Simply put, God’s strategy was people.  

Jesus chose twelve, and these twelve chose others, who chose others, and so forth.  

Jesus passed it on, so did the apostles, so did Paul and Timothy, and that is what we saw happening in the first churches that sprung up at the inception of the church.  Paul would appoint elders to lead the church that God started in a new city and then he would move on to the next and do it all over again.  

This same kind of generational transfer from apostle to the leadership is still needed to see the church expand into more and more spheres of our world before our Lord Jesus Christ returns.  However, for this to happen we need to have godly leaders like Paul who are not power-drunk, as well as reliable men and women to entrust the mission of the Gospel to, and that these men and women would take the leadership mantle seriously and bear the responsibility given them to win the world for Christ. Let’s look at these three requirements briefly in the ministry of Apostle Paul.

Firstly, we see Paul did not really care about holding on to power.  Instead he just wanted to see God’s kingdom spread as broadly as possible.  I once heard that Billy Graham said if he had to do it again, he would not necessarily preach to the masses in solo fashion like he did for decades, instead he would bring twelve men alongside and share in the preaching load, training them to be disciples like Christ did.  Sharing the platform is a difficult thing for men of God to do, but that’s what we see God modelling,  through the rampant spread of the church in those early years in the first century church.

Secondly, we see that Paul and the apostles selected the right kind of people to pass the torch to.  They selected leaders or elders who had certain criteria including spiritual maturity, family harmony in their homes and good public opinion to name a few.  These were indeed capable people who had come to a place in their walk with God, where they could carry the load of the church on their shoulders.  That’s why Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the things he had learnt to reliable people who can go on to teach others (2: Timothy 2:2).

The final aspect that I see that made the church proliferate so effectively was that these elders took responsibility.  Imagine you being given a church, and now asked to lead it overnight with all that it entails.  Wouldn’t it be overwhelming?  But if the church would have any chance of surviving you would have to be proactive and work hard to bring growth.  This is taking responsibility.  Paul would not have been able to leave these churches to anyone if they hadn’t chosen to take responsibility.  These leaders were called to work hard, guide the people with godly instruction and lead them in the things of God, this was indeed a very tall order, and took special people who would be up to the job.  These are the elders we are introduced to time and time again in scriptures.  Capable, ordinary church members who chose to step up and be responsible.

One thing that I have noticed in our modern context, is fewer and fewer people want to take responsibility when it comes to leading others.  Oh, don’t get me wrong they may want to lead, but definitely to take responsibility, that’s a whole other thing.  But you cannot separate leading from responsibility, in fact, the greatest burden of a leader is responsibility, and that’s what they are required by those within their trust.

For those of you who are not in positions of influence of others yet, but see God shaping you and preparing you for leadership.  I believe God is calling you today to take responsibility.  This could be to start caring for that lost friend as if they were your flesh and blood, or having empathy for your co-workers, fellow teammates, or social group.  You can take responsibility by simply becoming the best leader that you can be, meaning being diligent in spiritual things as well as in your work, school and life obligations.  As you are faithful in these “little” things, God will honour you to start leading people. 

However, for those who are spiritual parents, senior leaders or gate keepers to influence, allow God to use you to deploy others in the work of the kingdom.  This means, be willing to share the platform, select capable people, and allow generational transfer to occur, because this is God’s method, for us to make disciples of all nations.

– Pastor Olu Jegede