“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”- Acts 6:3-4
If you are involved in your local body, at one point or another you should rub shoulders with those who are called by God to lead in your fellowship. These men and women may be in front of you every week, or behind the scenes and visible only occasionally. Regardless of how or when you see them, their job is to serve the body of Christ and fulfill the mission He gave us – that of reaching the world with the message of His salvation and making disciples of those who are reached. We must eventually ask who God is raising up to continue the work of those currently ministering. We must also recognize those who have the gifts and abilities to lead and encourage them, providing opportunities to grow in their leadership ability. There will come a time, when older leaders step down or are unable to perform the tasks they once did. There will also be those who disqualify themselves and must be replaced. How do we perform such as task as seeing new leaders established?
Many methods of choosing leaders have been considered. It might well be said that each may have their place, depending on the situation and the maturity of the church body. We should be careful of dogma, as the Scriptures give us only examples of how some where chosen and identified in the New Testament and Old. Notice first that God directly puts a call on a person’s life. There must be a desire for leadership. Paul told Timothy in ch. 3, “If a man desires the position…”(v.1) God often uses our heart to lead us in a decision. If God is calling you to lead, there will be desire to do so. It is imperative that we not stop here though. When it comes to leadership, others are involved in the process. Your particular denomination or church fellowship may have written a procedure. This is a very practical way to carry out what the Bible describes. Simply a desire to lead is not the key. When God has called a person to lead and that person is displaying leadership characteristics and serving others, that person’s leadership will be noticed by other people. Remember in Acts 6, the Apostles asked the people to identify who they observed as men filled with the Holy Spirit. It is these that were identified by the people and brought to the apostles.
First there is a desire to lead, then a recognition by the people. Finally, it was the Apostles, who were acting as overseers or elders, who appointed these men to the position of deacon. Two things are absolutely essential it was neither pure democracy, nor authoritarian rule. We see a hint of this repeated to Titus when Paul exhorts him to “appoint” elders (Titus 1:5). How this process takes place in your local fellowship is up to the people and the leaders. The important thing to know is that all parties, in one way or another are involved in the process of bringing people into a place of leadership in the local body. By the way, did you notice what was missing? Outside of death or disqualification, you do not see anyone having an end to this calling. We cannot say definitively whether a calling is for life, or for a time, but noting the absence of a term of leadership, it appears as if the Lord desires those who are called to lead to do so in whatever capacity, for their whole life.
Do you see the qualification of leadership among the leaders of your local body? Do you take part in the process of seeing new leaders rise up and carry forward the mission of Christ?