the weblog of Alan Knox

A.D. Clarke on Leadership…

Posted by on Jul 19, 2007 in elders, office, service | 2 comments

A.D. Clarke wrote the article on “Leadership” in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Speaking of NT leaders, he says:

The context of leadership significantly affects the way in which that leadership is rightly exercised. Whilst being described as a labourer (1 Cor. 15:10; 16:15-16), the godly leader is nonetheless to equip (Eph. 4:11-13), care for (1 Thess. 2:7, 1 Tim. 3:5), guide (1 Cor. 4:15), and mobilize God’s people that they in turn may serve. It should be noted that, whereas commanding or ruling is fundamental to the task of the monarch (1 Kgs. 3:9), the military leader (Matt. 8:9), and the secular leader (Rom. 13:1-7), it has a comparatively small place in the role of the church leader. Consequently, whilst believers are to obey and be subject to their church leaders (1 Cor. 16:16; Heb. 13:17), the NT says little about church leaders demanding or exacting obedience from believers.

It is interesting that Clarke includes many Scripture references in this paragraph. However, when describing the leaders role to “mobilize” other believers, he does not include a reference. Similarly, he does not include any references to the “little” that Scripture says about “church leaders demanding or exacting obedience from believers”.

On the other hand, Clarke includes at least one of many scriptural references to leaders among believers who are laborers, who care for the people, and who guide the people. This is very similar to what I am learning about leaders as I study Scripture.

Leaders in Scripture are not those who direct the activities of a group of people. Instead, leaders in Scripture are those who serve others and provide a mature example of how to follow Christ. Shepherding, caring for, watching over, etc. are ways that leaders help others grow in maturity toward Christ, not decision making activities.

The Spirit provides all believers with everything necessary to make the decisions that they need to make in life. There is no need for another person to make decisions for them. They do not need a mediator to help them understand God’s will. They have the only mediator they will ever need.

As I was reading through Clarke’s descriptions of leaders in Scripture, I appreciated the fact that he drew a hard line between secular leaders and leaders among the church. Unfortunately, too many times, I see believers blurring those lines. Jesus said that if you want to know who to follow, then look around for those who are serving others and follow them.


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  1. 7-21-2007


    You said, “They do not need a mediator to help them understand God’s will. They have the only mediator they will ever need.” So true.

    Jesus said in Mat.15, v.4 “For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother; and , ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’
    v.5 “BUT YOU SAY, ‘whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”
    v.6 ‘then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.
    v.7 “HYPOCRITES!….” (Mat. 15:4-7

    Jesus went on to say in verse 11:
    “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I loooove coffee. But here is how I picture applying these texts and the subject of “mediator.”

    The pure word of God is poured into us.(H20) It then runs through the coffee grounds in the filter.(Our flesh bag sinful hearts) The grounds change what was pure and dispenses several cups of H20 now black, bitter, and sadly not very healthy for us.

    I think what the Spirit teaches a person (Gods will for them)is first and foremost going to be directed at THEM and THEIR sanctification. If they should choose to then relay or teach it to others, they FIRST better make sure their filter(heart) is clean before pouring it out and claiming it as “God’s will” for anyone other than themselves.

  2. 7-21-2007


    Good analogy! Thanks!