A sermon on 1 Corinthians 4:1-21.

Biblical leadership is not a CEO running a ministry like it was a business. Biblical leadership is not exclusively authoritarian nor is it an invitation to be a doormat to be walked all over and abused. Biblical leadership is not a popularity contest determined by a persons skill set, likability, or social status within a given community.

However, leadership within the church is a gift by God as Ephesians 4 clearly states: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (vv. 11-13). Leadership is not a position of status, but of service to the King of kings and Lord of lords. We are told in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

The Bible does not call the Christian to blind obedience to the leadership of the church, but it does call us to recognize those leaders God has gifted to the local church and to follow their guidance, leadership, and godly example. I think when you see the portrait of a godly leader like the one given to us in 1 Corinthians 4, you will recognize that the leadership gifted by God to the Church can and should serve to bless that congregation.

The principles of leadership to be gleaned from 1 Corinthians 4 are principles for every Christian. There was doubt cast by some within the Corinthian church on Paul’s call as an apostle; in this chapter, he gives four signposts that prove his right to speak into the lives of this little church.

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