SERVING & LEADING
The Leadership Gifts
This chapter will examine the more prominent or noticeable gifts of the Spirit which God gives to His church today. In contrast to those studied in the previous chapter, these gifts serve in a leadership capacity and, generally, have mostly to do with the public ministry of the Word.
The term "evangelist" means many things to many people. When you mention the word some immediately think of Billy Graham and a crowded football stadium. Others think of outdoor tabernacles, hard benches, and sawdust aisles. Still more think of inspiring song-leaders, sad stories, all followed by twenty-five stanzas of "Just as I Am."
In the early church, the evangelists were considered the successors of the apostles. They did not think that evangelists were the same as the apostles but merely that they continued the apostles' ministry.
The term in the Greek is related to the word "gospel." The euangelion is the "gospel," or the "good news." Euangelizo (the verb form) means to announce the gospel, "to evangelize." The euangelistes is "the one who evangelizes," or the "evangelist."
The term "evangelist" occurs only three times in the New Testament, none of which actually define what an evangelist is. Acts 21:8 simply tells us that Philip was an evangelist; Ephesians 4:11 teaches that evangelists are gifts to the church; and II Timothy 4:5 commands Timothy to do the work of an evangelist.
Pulling together the information available from these verses, we can come to an understanding of the term. The word itself, we know, means to announce the good news, to evangelize. Ephesians 4:11-12 teaches that the evangelist is for the purpose of equipping the saints to the work of the ministry to the edifying of the body of Christ. And with the ministry of Philip recorded in Acts 8, we have an example of what an evangelist is and does. An evangelist, then, is one who is especially effective in presenting the message of the gospel to the lost and instructing believers in the faith. His ministry is an itinerate one, ministering to believers and unbelievers alike in various locations. He is not one who announces new truth -- that is a prophet. But he is one who announces truth. It seems that the New Testament evangelist more closely resembles our present day missionary. He brings the good news to an unevangelized community, disciples, establishes a church, and moves on. Our present day evangelists, as we have known them since the days of Wesley and Whitefield with their itinerate ministries, whose ministries are extremely valuable to our churches, do properly wear the title "evangelist," but the evangelist of the New Testament, it seems from the example of Philip, had a broader work.
The gift of pastor-teacher is mentioned only in Ephesians 4:11, along with apostles, prophets, and evangelists. Although the term "pastor" is the most common used today, it is only used (in its noun form, poimen) here, and that only as it is associated with teaching. This is one gift with the combined responsibilities of teaching and leading. The verb poimaino, "to shepherd," or "to pastor," is used in Acts 20:28 ("feed") in connection with the terms "elders" (verse 17) and "bishops" (verse 28). The same is found in I Peter 5:1-5. All three terms refer to the same office -- a pastor is a bishop is an elder. According to I Timothy 5:17, some elders have the specific responsibility of teaching ("especially they who labor in the word and teaching"). This teaching-elder is the pastor-teacher. According to I Timothy 3:2 all elders must teach. According to I Timothy 5:17 all elders rule, but some rule especially by teaching.
As a glance through any concordance will reveal, the norm for the New Testament church is a plurality of elders, or pastors (Acts 11:30, 14:23, 15:2-23, 16:4, 20:17; Philippians 1:1; I Thessalonians 5:12-13, "them"; I Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5; Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24; I Peter 5:1). There is no specific number stated; it probably varied considerably with differing church needs -- God has given the gifts "as it pleased Him" (I Corinthians 12:18), but the norm is a plurality of godly men in leadership of a church. The responsibilities are too great for only one man.
A man is not automatically a pastor by virtue of gifts alone -- there are also certain qualifications which must be met. These qualifications are listed in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. In these lists of qualifications there is little emphasis on giftedness but much emphasis on character (Some gifts are alluded to, however, such as teaching, ruling, preaching, leadership, exhortation, etc.). A position of such leadership carries with it great responsibility. He must be a man whose faith can be emulated (Hebrews 13:7).
The responsibilities of the pastor-teacher fall generally under two headings: leading and feeding. Terms such as "oversee," "rule," "feed," and "teach" are used repeatedly in reference to pastors or elders. These are his focus. The office of pastor was not given to embrace all the other gifts which are necessary for the ministry of the body. This gifted man is to "perfect the saints to the work of the ministry." This simply means that it is his job to train everyone else to minister. How different is his job description today!
Above all other permanent gifts, this one carries with it a special honor. Hebrews 13:7, 17, and 24, and I Thessalonians 5:12-13 are two passages which make this clear. Of particular significance is I Timothy 5:17 where the teaching elders (the pastor-teachers) are "especially worthy of double honor" even in comparison to the other elders! Those who serve the church by leading and teaching are particularly worthy of love and esteem. Our attitude must be reflective of this.
The gift of teaching appears more often in the catalogues of spiritual gifts than any other, only prophecy excepted. A teacher, as the name suggests, is one with the ability to explain clearly the things of God. He is not a prophet, announcing new truth, but one who is able to expound the truth already given. This gift, like few others, requires preliminary work for its exercise. One who wishes to teach must train and prepare to teach effectively. It is probably safe to assume that one with the gift of teaching has also been given a desire to study and learn. A teacher must especially "stir up" his gift (I Timothy 1:6) to increase his effectiveness. And again, the gift of teaching carries with it a special honor. The sowing of the things of God are especially important and helpful (I Corinthians 9:11). Where would any of us be today were it not for gifted teachers who have instructed us in our most holy faith!
Exhortation is another gift defined only by its name. The Greek word parakaleo includes three ideas: 1) encouragement (consolation, comfort), 2) challenge, and 3) rebuke (admonition). Perhaps our word "counseling" best conveys all the ideas. The exhorter picks up where the teacher leaves off. Someone has said that if the teacher lays out the truth, the exhorter lays it on. The exhorter is one who has the insight to take the broad principles of Scripture and apply them to a specific situation; on the basis of that he gives his counsel. He is able to say, "Because the Scripture teaches this, you must...."
By the nature of this gift, the exhorter risks being unpopular with many. Many simply do not want to hear someone else tell them what to do! Encouragement is good, challenge is okay, but rebuke?! But still, this gift is essential to the church. Mutual exhortation is a responsibility of all Christians, not just those so gifted. But if all are responsible for it, this person is particularly successful in it. His counsel must not be taken lightly.
Ruling & Governing
Apart from leadership, any organization will collapse. These gifts are to fill that need. "Ruling" (Romans 12:8), often called "administration," is not the ability to shuffle papers all day. The term means to rule, or to lead. It is used in I Timothy 3:4-5 of the elder (bishop) ruling his house and the church. The gift of "governments" (I Corinthians 12:28) emphasizes authority in leading. This gift would be a requirement of an elder (I Timothy 3:4-5) and would include the responsibility of ruling and leading in affairs of the church such as discipline. The independent spirit of our society instinctively rebels at the idea of someone in authority over such personal matters, but this is God's means of leading His church. Sometimes service must be in the form of authority and leadership.
Serving and Leading
These six gifts are for serving -- those who have these gifts must never forget that! The attitude of a teacher or a leader must be that of a servant, or he is abusing his gift to his own and the church's loss.
Serving and Following
These six gifts are for leading -- those who do not have these gifts must never forget that! If it is necessary for the ruler to serve, it is equally necessary for those ruled to follow submissively in their serving.
To be in keeping with the New Testament plan, our attitudes must be correct on both counts.