Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 1
How the Gospel
Gospel of Grace Church
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 2
Follow the pattern of the sound [healthy] words that you have heard
from me…You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in
Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of
many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach
others also—2 Timothy 1:13; 2:2.
With the fight fought and race run,1 Paul conveys information of
utmost importance to a young (mid-30’s) pastor at the church in
Ephesus, his beloved Timothy. Paul is concerned that Timothy
propagate the healthy2 teaching of the gospel by entrusting it to
faithful men who will in turn pass it along to other men.3 Paul was
saying, in effect, “Timothy, I am almost dead. I have delivered to
you the most important message the world has ever heard, and I
need you to find faithful, godly, Christ-centered men and teach
them everything I taught you. And be sure to tell each of the men
that they must teach other men too. No one may keep this to
Christianity’s healthy teaching is an entrustment—we will give
an account of how we used it. It is a message which, once
believed and understood, may not be hoarded. When grace
enters into us, it must also pass through us, so that we do not
become dead-ends, but through streets, not dams which collect,
but rivers through which the waters of Life flow to faithful men.
Grace is vital to this process. If we are not convinced that Jesus
Christ was given freely to guilty, hell-deserving wretches like us,
then we will bottle the teaching and store it in our trophy case,
convinced no one else is worthy to receive it. But when grace
conquers us, we pass healthy teaching along to every man
interested, for we could not bear the thought of other Christians
living without the life-changing grace of the gospel.
Assembling men together for training in leadership is no elitist
club or cult. Nothing about training men to serve Christ as He
2 Timothy 4:6-7.
1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:13.
This, by the way, is true apostolic succession; the message, not the
messenger, is passed down to us from the apostles.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 3
served them is insider information, therefore, this course is plain
biblical exposition and application with no hidden subtitles or
quick-speaking, end-of-commercial gibberish needing decoding.
Paul transmitted healthy teaching so ordinarily as to appear weak
and so simply as to appear foolish.4 We shall too.
Healthy teaching is important. Without it Christians fall apart,
crushed by the relentless law or ruined by pride. Healthy teaching
creates genuine godliness, so it is of utmost importance that godly
men pass it along. Healthy teaching is this: Jesus Christ is a gift,
a gracious gift, a free gift. There is nothing we did to earn Him,
and nothing we can do to keep Him. We were not worthy of His
love, yet He loved us, and we have not become worthy of His
love, for we still sin. No amount of persecution, beating, mocking,
or wrath could stop Him from going to hell and back for you. And
though the cup of God’s wrath made Him stagger, He refused to
leave this world without affixing Himself to a criminal’s tree, and
when the Father unleashed the hell of His wrath, Jesus’ body
broke, His blood shed, and the Lamb died. Ours is all the gain;
Jesus’ was all the loss. That is the healthy teaching, and when
the Holy Spirit dissolves our hearts with it, genuine godliness will
flow through us as swift waters.
This booklet is intended to be used one of two ways. The first
use is as a teaching tool for training men, young and old, to be
future leaders in the church (elders and deacons). Before a man
may serve as an elder or deacon in Gospel of Grace Church, they
must go through the period of training outlined in the following
pages (see the Course Outline). This booklet, then, is used in
conjunction with the other listed books and the Westminster
Confession of Faith in modern English. The second use is as a
discipleship guide for Christian men. The booklet can be read by
itself to encourage and instruct any Christian man, whether new
believer or mature, in his walk with the Lord Jesus Christ at home,
at work, and at church. If you find this useful or helpful, may
Jesus Christ be praised.
1 Corinthians 1:22-25.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 4
The main text for the Christ-like Leadership Course is this
booklet. In addition, the following five book(let)s are needed:
The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men by Richard D.
The New Testament Deacon: The Church’s Minister of Mercy
by Alexander Strauch.
The Elder and His Work by David Dickson (Edited by George
Kennedy McFarland and Philip Graham Ryken, 2004).
The Westminster Confession of Faith in Modern English with
Why We Baptize Infants of Believers: A Biblical Defense of
The outline below provides a bird’s eye view of the Christ-like
Leadership Course, and suggests what might be a helpful way to
order the course. Each numerical point represents approximately
one classroom session (for a total of 14 sessions), held twice per
month, lasting ~2 hours each.
1. Discuss The Masculine Mandate by Richard Phillips
(especially male friendship)5
2. Read and discuss the entire chapter on “Leadership in the
Home” (Christ-like Leadership booklet, pp. 7-32)
a. Leadership in Christ-likeness
b. Leadership in Leadership
c. Leadership in Worship
d. Leadership in Child-Discipline
e. Leadership in Submission
f. Leadership in Love
g. Leadership in Singleness & Sexuality
3. Read and discuss the entire chapter on “Leadership in the
Workplace” (Christ-like Leadership booklet, pp. 32-51)
a. The Sluggard
b. The Sluggard in Us
c. The Anti-Sluggard
d. A Christian Perspective on Work
e. A Christian Perspective on Rest
4. a. Read and discuss “The Necessity of Church Leaders:
Elders & Deacons” (Christ-like Leadership booklet pp. 51-56)
The men should read the book prior to this class.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 5
b. Discuss The New Testament Deacon and The Elder and
5. a. Read and discuss “The Doctrine of Church Leaders”
(Christ-like Leadership booklet, pp. 56-60)
b. Read, summarize, and discuss The Westminster
Confession of Faith in Modern English, Chapters 1-4, one
paragraph at a time
6. Read, summarize, and discuss The Westminster Confession
of Faith in Modern English, Chapters 5-8, one paragraph at a
7. Read, summarize, and discuss The Westminster Confession
of Faith in Modern English, Chapters 9-14, one paragraph at
8. Read, summarize, and discuss The Westminster Confession
of Faith in Modern English, Chapters 15-21, one paragraph at
9. Read, summarize, and discuss The Westminster Confession
of Faith in Modern English, Chapters 22-26, one paragraph at
10. Read, summarize, and discuss The Westminster Confession
of Faith in Modern English, Chapters 27-30, one paragraph at
11. Read, summarize, and discuss The Westminster Confession
of Faith in Modern English, Chapters 31-35, one paragraph at
12. Read and discuss “The Manner of Church Leaders:
Shepherding” (Christ-like Leadership booklet, pp. 60-69)
13. Read and discuss “The Character of Church Leaders” (Christ-
like Leadership booklet, pp. 69-84)
14. Read and discuss “The Duties of Church Leaders” (Christ-like
Leadership booklet, pp. 84-92)
The men should read The New Testament Deacon and The Elder and His
Work prior to this class in order that they may become familiar with basic,
biblical concepts relevant to the offices of elder and deacon.
In conjunction with the discussion on the sacrament of baptism (WCF 28)
use the booklet entitled, Why We Baptize Infants of Believers: A Biblical
Defense of Infant Baptism.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 6
LEADERSHIP IN THE HOME 7
1. Leadership in Christ-likeness 7
2. Leadership in Leadership 11
3. Leadership in Worship 14
4. Leadership in Child-Discipline 17
5. Leadership in Submission 21
6. Leadership in Love 23
7. Leadership in Singleness & Sexuality 28
LEADERSHIP IN THE WORKPLACE 32
1. The Sluggard 33
2. The Sluggard in Us 36
3. The Anti-Sluggard 38
4. A Christian Perspective on Work 42
5. A Christian Perspective on Rest 47
LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH 51
1. The Necessity of Church Leaders: Elders & Deacons 53
2. The Doctrine of Church Leaders 56
3. The Manner of Church Leaders: Shepherding 60
4. The Character of Church Leaders 69
5. The Duties of Church Leaders 84
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 7
LEADERSHIP IN THE HOME
The home is where Christian men begin. Leadership in the home
is so central that Paul calls it the proving ground for church
leadership.8 The home is where men are most themselves, so if
you want to know a man you need only visit his home. Home is
where a man demonstrates what truly resides in his heart: if a
man struggles with anger, he will be most angry at home; if with
theft, he will steal dignity and value from those in his home; if with
self-control, he will be most out of control at home; if with
insecurity, his home will be filled with insecurity; and if with
rebelliousness, his home will be insubordinate and defiant. The
home, then, is where we begin our leadership training course.
This course is designed to expose us, instruct us, heal us, and
encourage us. There is no growth apart from exposure, and there
is no growth apart from the gospel’s healing power. So let’s take
an honest look at the Bible’s teaching on Christian, male
leadership in the home. This chapter follows an outline:
8. Leadership in Christ-likeness
9. Leadership in Leadership
10. Leadership in Worship
11. Leadership in Child-Discipline
12. Leadership in Submission
13. Leadership in Love
14. Leadership in Singleness & Sexuality
Leadership in Christ-likeness
Jesus is the manly man, the true man, the perfect man whom all
men should aspire to be. And if Jesus Christ is the ideal man, the
perfect Adam, then Christian manliness inheres not in physical
strength9 or retaliatory might,10 nor in knowing everything,11 nor in
indifference toward the hurting and lost,12 and not in self-
sufficiency.13 Christian manliness is returning good for evil by
1 Timothy 3:4,12.
Matthew 9:36; 14:14; Mark 6:34.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 8
loving our enemies14 and patiently enduring the most unjust
treatment with confidence that God will judge justly on the Last
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God,
for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
If when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious
things in the sight of God. For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so
that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was
deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in
return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued
entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:20-23
A godly man is secure in Christ, resting in the reputation and
identity which Jesus earned on behalf of us, and fretting not about
the ways others besmear his name or demean his identity. What
does such a man look like, and how does such a man respond to
attacks against his name and his reputation? Carl Trueman,
professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary
Philadelphia, offers this answer:
For myself, I do not believe that it is appropriate that I spend my
time defending my name. My name is nothing—who really cares
about it? And I am not called to waste precious hours and energy
in fighting off every person with a laptop who wants to have a
pop at me. As a Christian, I am not meant to engage in self-
justification any more than self-promotion; I am called rather to
defend the name of Christ; and, to be honest, I have yet to see a
criticism of me, true or untrue, to which I could justifiably respond
Frederick Buechner in The Magnificent Defeat describes love for enemies:
The love for equals is a human thing—of friend for friend, brother for
brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles.
The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing—the love for those
who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the
unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.
The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing—to love those who
succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who
rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the
white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then
there is the love for the enemy—love for the one who does not love
you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for
the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 9
on the grounds that it was Christ’s honor, and not simply my ego,
which was being damaged. I am called to spend my time in
being a husband, a father, a minister in my denomination, a
member of my church, a good friend to those around me, and a
conscientious employee. These things, these people, these
locations and contexts, are to shape my priorities and my
allocation of time. Hitting back in anger at those who, justly or
unjustly, do not like me and for some reason think the world
needs to know what they think of me is no part of my God-given
vocation. God will look after my reputation if needs be; He has
given me other work to do.
A godly man can take the worst criticism, the heaviest blows to
his reputation and the most abusive scorn without falling apart, for
He knows his identity has been established in Christ and his name
is written in the book of life.15
A Christian man is a man of faith, living according to unseen
realities,16 and confident that this world cannot be all there is, for
our deepest desires tell us we were made for another world.17 He
resonates with the words of Mark Buchanan:
I don’t care what religion you belong to or would never belong to,
what beliefs you profess or scorn. I would bet a sweet purse that
every one of you in this room has an instinct, and that the instinct
is sharp as a razor right now. The instinct is that the world is not
enough. The instinct is that this world isn’t big enough, long
enough, deep enough to contain or explain even one single life
in it. The instinct is that death, no matter how natural its causes,
is always unnatural, a brusque intruder, a gloating enemy, and
that death shouldn’t be allowed to have the last word. The
instinct is that we weren’t made for this world only. We were
made for eternity. The world is not enough. Did you think it
A Christ-like man converses with God,19 walks with Him,20
depends on Him,21 cries to Him,22 and finds Him a refuge when
Philippians 4:3; Cf. Luke 10:20.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity: Hope:
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can
satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another
Mark Buchanan, Unseen Things: Living in Light of Forever.
1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 10
disasters strike his life.23 This man is equitable, fair, and
impartial,24 not a respecter of persons, but of God alone,25 since
His heavenly Father is no respecter of persons.26 He is
comfortable in his own skin, satisfied with God’s cosmetology. He
is not jealous of others’ skin (talents, gifts, wealth, success), but
thankful to God for the gifts of men; and he is not out to prove that
his skin possesses a rare sheen worthy of world-worship, for He
knows his place in world history27—he remembers he is dust.28
He humbly serves and loves his wife, his children, his brothers
and sisters in Christ, his friends, his neighbors, and his enemies
not for what he can get out of them, but because he has been
loved by God with a love that, at infinite cost to Jesus Christ,
invests without gain29 and seeks without reciprocation. And his
relationship with Jesus Christ is so robust that though enemies
destroy his family and his closest friends turn against him, he finds
strength in His gracious God.30 A Christian man, then, is one who
thirsts for God,31 and has drunk deeply from the wells of His grace
God needs nothing outside of Himself for sustenance,
happiness, or contentment—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were
infinitely joyful prior to creation and redemption. At Jesus’
baptism, the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I
Genesis 5:22-24; Hebrews 11:5-6.
Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:19; James 2:1.
Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11.
1 Samuel 30:6.
A.W. Tozer said it well:
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me
and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need
for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the
Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I
thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee,
so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love
within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come
away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this
misty lowland where I have wandered so long.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 11
am well pleased,”32 which means that prior to accomplishing our
redemption—prior to the Cross—the Father loved His Son
infinitely! Therefore, our redemption does not increase the
Father’s love toward His Son. “So what”, you say, “Why is this
important?” It is important and life-changing in two ways. If God
is infinitely sufficient and joyful in Himself, then:
1. We can be sure God loves us not for what He can get out of
us but for us. Since God lacks nothing, 33 He cannot be using
or manipulating us in order to get something He lacks! He
wants you, my brothers, not what He can get out of you. He
wants your heart, your soul, your life, your thoughts, your
desires, and everything else about you, and in Jesus Christ He
has it. And when that penetrates the inner recesses of our
hearts, we will love others for the persons they are, not the
producers they might be. We will love our wives not for the
money, respect, or intimacy we get from them, but for them;
we will love our children not for the accolades society gives
parents with obedient children, but for them; and we will love
our friends not for the benefits friendship provides, but for their
persons. In short, we will love people entrusted to our care for
who they are. Enjoy this, for such relationships are a delight to
the soul. Using people for what you can get out of them—as
pawns for self-gratification—is exhausting and miserable.
2. We can be sure He will not abandon us in our failures, for our
failures do not drain His energy—He can afford to love those
who cost Him. Face it, we are expensive investments for
God—He spends a lot on us but receives no return except that
which He invested. In fact, our relationship with Him cost the
life and work of an infinitely valuable member of the Trinity.
This changes all our relationships. We will no longer abandon
spouses, children, parents, friends, or others who fail us. If we
are strengthened by our all-sufficient God, then His sufficiency
provides us with resources for patient, persistent, enduring
love toward those who fail us.
Leadership in Leadership
Psalm 50:10; Romans 11:36.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 12
Prior to the Fall Adam loved Eve with perfect, sacrificial love and
Eve submitted to Adam with the utmost respect and diligence. If
only we had a DVD of their pre-fall marriage! After their fall into
sin, chaos entered marriage. Now, a woman’s desire is for her
husband (Gen. 3:16) in the sense that her desire is to rule over
him, but, whether she likes it or not, the husband will rule over her.
Since the fall of Adam and Eve, wives compete with their
husbands, subvert their authority, and seek control of the marriage
and family. “But why”, you ask, “Why did the first marriage fail?”
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have
eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat
Adam failed to lead in his marriage. He listened to the voice of his
wife, meaning that he allowed the voice of his wife to replace the
voice of God—Adam failed to lead in his leadership role.
Fast-forward at least 6000 years and nature still abhors a
vacuum, so do our homes. There is no such thing as a leaderless
home, so if we do not function as the leader in our home,
someone else will, and most often it falls to wives to fill the gap.
Regardless of personality, outspokenness, competency, or
ability, the husband is the God-ordained leader in each home.
“The husband is the head of the wife” (Eph. 5:23). Please notice
Paul does not say a husband should strive to be the head of his
wife, rather a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is head of
the church, or, the husband is the official leader of his home,
whether he and his wife acknowledge it or not. When a man and
woman say, “I do” at the wedding, God says to the husband at
that moment, “You are the head of your wife and home. This
means that though your wife be smarter, wittier, wiser, or the
higher wage earner, you are the head to which she must submit,
sin excepted.” And despite feminism’s coup attempt to replace
the husband as official head by encouraging wives to become the
functional head,34 God’s verdict has not changed. If there are
areas of your home-life in which your wife leads, then you have
An attempt, in my opinion, fueled largely by women who were crushed
under the weight of a self-centered, stifling, abdicating, even abandoning
male authority (father) in their life.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 13
said, in effect, “As leader of this home, I have delegated, or
abdicated, this area of home-life to you.” Hopefully it was
delegation, not abdication, but either way, it reflects your
The question at hand, then, is not, “Men, are you leading your
homes?”, but “Men, how are you leading your homes?” Are you
leading through intentional, prayerful involvement and delegation,
or are you leading through lazy, undisciplined withdrawal? Is our
delegation disguised laziness, or is it an attempt at using our
wives’ gifts for the betterment of home-life? Remember,
ultimately, we are responsible for the aspects of home-life over
which we give our wives freedom of management. For example,
our wives may home-school our children, but we are responsible
for the schooling. If our wife home-schools them poorly, due to
laziness, tiredness, lack of ability, or lack of time, we are
responsible for the poor schooling. Simply put, you, not your wife,
are responsible for your children’s education.
A quick comment on delegation. Delegating responsibilities to
our wives is not a failure of headship, but a wise use of time and
talents. If our wives are better financial managers, then we have
every reason to delegate the family finances to them; if they drive
better than we, then let them drive; if they are comfortable praying,
then let them pray some of the time. When two people get
married they leave their father and mother and hold tightly to each
other,35 which means they leave behind the ways their parents did
things and they figure out how each spouse best supports the new
marriage. Enabling each other to leave the past behind and forge
ahead with cooperation and teamwork is an aspect of leadership
often overlooked. We do well to ask our wives if they have talents
lying dormant or if they see us neglecting to use ours. We also do
well to make sure neither spouse tries to turn the home into an
exact replica of their childhood home, no matter how godly it was.
A spouse who attempts this is still clinging to their parents, and
has not yet matured to realize that because no two married
couples coalesce identically, no Christian home can be safely
In addition to our wives, there are at least three entities which
compete for leadership in our homes: children, employers, and
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 14
friends. Children obtain leadership through a variety of creative
methods, beginning with acts of heart (temper tantrums),
progressing to acts of will (intentional disobedience), and almost
always “maturing” into acts of mind (deliberate, intellectual
rebellion). If allowed to fester, children easily rule a home rather
than learn to submit themselves to the home. Most often this
occurs because fathers are lazy—too lazy to discern the child’s
heart attitude and discipline accordingly.
Employers also compete for leadership in our homes.
Employment is necessary and may demand long hours, but if an
employer demands 90 hours per week year around, and your
home is falling apart, then your employer leads your home. Now,
there are certain exceptions to this, for certain times demand men
focus their attention away from the home for the benefit of the
home (war, economic depression/job scarcity). But in the main,
men must guard themselves from sacrificing their homes on the
altar of employment (workaholism).
Finally, friends can be a challenge to our leadership in the
home if we allow our friends to drag us away from home-life
responsibilities. By all means, Christian men should have male
friends, but if your friend requires you to prefer him over your
responsibilities at home, he is a very poor friend, or not one at
Leadership in Worship
Men should lead their homes in three aspects of worship:
corporate, family, and personal. Spiritual leadership in the home
is our responsibility.
Leadership in corporate worship means locating, linking with,
and loving a local church body. First, we must locate a church
where we trust our family will be fed spiritually. In order to discern
such a church, it is wise to ask our wives and/or children their
opinion about various churches, though ultimately the decision
falls to us. Second, we must link ourselves loyally to a local body.
If ever we expect ourselves, our wives, and our children to mature
As usual, this statement calls for a qualification. There are times when a
husband and wife may agree to “loan” the other’s time to a friend who suffers
from an acute, painful trial. Such an agreement between spouses is not
irresponsible, but kind and mature.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 15
in Christ, we must establish meaningful relationships within the
body of Christ. Church hopping can be spiritual suicide, leading to
perfectionism whereby no church is ever good enough to join.37
Join a church where you are blessed by the Christians, and where
you can be a blessing to the Christians, but by all means, link,
commit, and join. Third, we must lead in our love of the body of
Christ. It is not enough to say, “I love the body of Christ.” We
must prove it. If we do not link with a specific body of Christ—a
local congregation in a geographic area—then we may not
actually love the body of Christ; we may love the mere idea of
Christ’s body. The church is lovely in Christ, but unlovely in itself.
Christians are messy and will always disappoint you, and why
should this surprise us? A mirror should daily remind us how
sinful we are and how often we let ourselves and those closest t
us down. Thus, remaining outside the church because we have
not found a perfect, sin-free church is not a legitimate excuse for
separating our families from the body of Christ.
Leadership in family worship means setting aside time
throughout the week, even daily, to read Scripture, discuss life,
sing, and pray as a family. Many times this occurs at meals, but it
need not. There are numerous family devotional tools available,38
but whichever we choose, we should aim for consistency in their
use, and we should never let a devotional tool usurp the
prominence of the Bible and prayer. Our wives and children will
likely pray as we pray, and if we never develop a prayer life with
them, then we should expect they will have no substantive prayer
life with God. Singing is oftentimes the best means of
communicating the gospel to children at a young age, and though
our children may struggle to memorize Scripture, they will almost
always remember songs. So filling their minds with “Amazing
Grace”, “In Christ Alone”, and other glorious tunes is an effective
way to communicate the gospel at a young age. Also, never
A wise man once said, ““If ever you find a perfect church, don’t join it, for
the moment you join it will fall from perfection.”
Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries). Comforts from the Cross: Celebrating the
Gospel One Day at a Time by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick. Training Hearts
Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism by Starr
Meade. Humility and Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. Fifty Reasons
Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper. Morning and Evening: A New
Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on the Holy Bible, ESV by Charles
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 16
underestimate the edifying power of small-talk. As important as
Scripture reading, memorization, and discussion is in the context
of family worship, asking about and listening to the daily details of
those in our household will demonstrate to our wives and children
that we love them. If we never ask our wives and children about
daily life, they may become convinced about our love for the Bible,
but may never realize we love them.
Finally, leadership in personal worship means we spend time
reading Scripture, praying, and meditating upon the gospel of
Jesus Christ. Personal devotions usually means less sleep, and if
you are like me, then Bible reading often ends in snoozing,
praying in daydreaming, and meditating in mentally rehearsing all
the things you have to accomplish. At such times caffeine and/or
kneeling on a hard surface might prove helpful, and if voracious
Scripture reading proves daunting, then read one verse. Only do
not neglect prayer, for it is the heartbeat of the Christian life, and if
you have time for only one aspect of devotional life, pray, pray,
and pray.39 Prayer is vital to us, our families, our churches and
the world. Do you want to know the measure of your spirituality
and relationship with God? Look at your prayer life; that is the
measure of it. To paraphrase John Owen:
A Christian may be a popular counselor, may be well-known for
godliness and well-sought for advice, and may be frequently
praised throughout his community, but what that Christian is on
his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no
Make sure not to substitute prayer with reading about prayer. With that
qualification, here are some excellent resources for learning to pray: The
Secret Key to Heaven: The Vital Importance of Prayer by Thomas Brooks. A
Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A.
Carson. Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in
Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chapell. The Collects of Thomas Cranmer compiled
for devotional use by C. Frederick Barbee and Paul F. M. Zahl. The Hidden
Life of Prayer: The Life-blood of the Christian by David McIntyre. A Praying
Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller. The Valley
of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. A Guide to Prayer
by Isaac Watts.
This is a paraphrase of John Owen’s exhortation to Christian ministers
concerning the necessity of private prayer. His original words follow:
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 17
Leadership in Child-Discipline41
Male leadership in child-discipline may sound strange to our
American ears, but the Bible does not find it strange:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them
up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become
We have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we
respected them…they disciplined us for a short time as it
seemed best to them.
Prior to the American Industrial Revolution, fathers generally spent
more time with their children, not unlike the 1st century A.D. in
which Paul writes. Fathers worked closer to home—in the nearby
fields or trade-buildings—so they had more involvement with the
daily upbringing and discipline of children. When the American
Industrial Revolution hit, for the first time in world history,
occupations regularly demanded fathers leave their families for
extended periods of time (12-16 hours a day, or all week), and the
child-rearing fell almost entirely to mothers. This historical fact,
however, should not be interpreted to mean that Christian fathers
should work as close to home as possible, nor does it mean
Christian fathers should feel guilty each morning they leave for
work—by all means we must work, and work hard. Rather, this
historical fact ought to encourage Christian fathers to be intimately
involved with child-discipline, regardless of how your friends and
co-workers may mock you as a wimp. And even though our
occupations demand we spend much time away from home, we
are intimately involved with child-rearing, whether we know it or
not. For, a father’s heart-attitude toward disciplining his children
sets the tone for discipline in the entire home. If he is indifferent,
A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, and the mouths of
the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before
God Almighty, that he is and no more.
Now, insert your name in the place of “minister.”
Cf. Richard Phillips, Masculine Mandate, pp. 93-119.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 18
then the children will likely be indifferent toward him and their
mother; if he is tyrannical, then the home will feel like prison; and if
he strives to discipline his children as our Father disciplines us,
then, by God’s grace, the children will respect him and their
mother, and their lives will gradually yield the peaceful fruit of
The word “discipline” is related to “disciple” or “discipling.”
Most often when we hear the word “discipline” we conjure up
spanking, time-outs, screaming children, and frustrated parents,
but that is only one aspect of discipling children. Hopefully the
bulk of our discipling is spent teaching, instructing, warning, and
imparting wisdom to our children.
Discipling children is relatively simple in principle. It entails
three steps: setting standards, communicating the standards, and
enforcing the standards. For example, one family might set a
standard for speech, “Children should not talk when adults are
talking.” Once the standard is set, it must be communicated to the
child discerningly—a 2 month old child probably won’t understand.
But as soon as the child has evidenced they grasp the concept
(though they probably will not admit it!), the standard must be
enforced. This is the hardest part of discipling children. Coming
up with standards is easy; communicating them is a little more
difficult, but enforcing them involves the hard work of consistency.
Parents who are truly consistent in enforcing standards often have
fewer standards! But whatever standards we set for our children,
we should make sure they are reasonable, make sure the children
understand them, and make sure we consistently enforce them.
This will prevent our children from concluding we discipline out of
moodiness and uncontrolled anger. One caution: parents should
be humble enough to admit unreasonable standards and adjust
them as soon as they become aware of them. Noticing, adjusting,
and apologizing for unreasonable standards will not damage our
children’s respect for us, but exasperating our children with
unreasonable standards will almost always destroy their respect
Regarding enforcing standards (formal discipline, i.e.,
spanking), the worst form of enforcement is not yelling or
screaming (although we should never yell or scream), since
yelling and screaming acknowledges existence; the worst form of
enforcement is ignoring. Ignoring a child communicates loud and
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 19
clear, “I wish you were never born; you take too much time; I have
more important things to handle than you; go find another father.”
Such an attitude toward our children will crush them.
Imagine if our Father stopped disciplining us; would we count
that loving? No. God disciplines us as proof He loves us—as
evidence of our sonship42—and so every time God spanks the
pride out of us we have proof He cares. In the same way, fathers
who discipline their children love them, or, conversely, fathers who
do not lead in disciplining their children hate their children.43
A love which chastises and disciplines is counterintuitive, but
easily illustrated. Coach Edwards was an offensive line coach for
the Central College football team in Pella, IA. He was known as a
gruff and moody grouch, and accurately so, but the way he treated
his lineman was father-son like. If he saw in you a hard-working,
diligent heart, he hounded, harassed, and scolded you endlessly,
but if he saw laziness, he said nothing because he did not care—
he was not about to waste his energy on someone he did not care
about. Strangely enough, then, all freshman lineman learned from
the upperclassmen to appreciate being chewed out and yelled at,
because even though it sounded like Coach was saying, “You
miserable failure! What play were you running? Have you
misplaced your brain? Do you even have a brain?” he was really
saying, “I love you.” Therefore, every offensive lineman craved
Coach Edwards’ yelling at them, because his screaming gave
evidence of his love for us.
At the moment it occurs, discipline is painful, not pleasant,
both for the parent and the child. I have yet to encounter a
Christian parent who enjoys disciplining a disobedient child, and
hope I never do. I have not yet found a child who enjoyed the rod
either, and also hope I never do. But, as painful as it is, Christian
parents seek the long-term, peaceful fruit of righteousness, and
thus endure the short-term pain of disciplining children.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,
but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who
have been trained by it.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 20
Disciplining children is an act of faith in God. Before each spank
or time-out, most Christian parents entertain the scary thought, “If
God does not use this for the good of the child, it will bear no fruit
and turn the child away from me. Gracious God, please apply this
discipline to my child’s heart!” Afterwards, if the child softens in
heart—genuinely repents of their disobedience—a Christian
parent rejoices. Discipline either hardens a child’s heart toward
God or softens them, and any softening of their heart can only be
a work of God. In a very real and powerful way, Christian parents
sit in the front row of God’s redemption theatre, watching the
gospel play-out in the lives of their children. The gospel chastises
our sin before it embraces us in our brokenness; it flattens us
before it lifts us up in Christ. Disciplining our children, then, is a
mini re-enactment of the gospel, and an opportunity to point our
broken, sinful children to the Savior who alone can rescue them.
Fathers, if you hate your children let them do whatever their
heart desires, never contradict them, and give them everything
they want. But if you love your children discipline them.
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is
diligent to discipline him.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline
drives it far from him.
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him a rod, he
will not die.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself
brings shame to his mother.
Discipline your son and he will give you rest; he will give delight
to your heart.
Do not abuse your children, and do not discipline them in a fit of
rage, but, in a calm manner (which may mean you have to wait
patiently until you calm yourself down), after you make it clear how
and why you are going to discipline them (i.e., “I am going to
spank you once on your rear because you spoke disrespectfully to
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 21
your mother in the living room”), discipline them. Explaining how
we plan to discipline them shows we are under control and sober-
minded, and explaining why gives us time to process the
disciplinary act (maybe we overreacted and should not be
disciplining them so severely) and gives the child opportunity to
consider their sin and resolve to flee it in the future. Whatever
punishment we choose to discipline our children with, we should
make sure it communicates our disapproval in such a way that it
molds their heart. And ending discipline with prayer is a must, not
only to display our concern for the child, but more importantly to
ask God to apply the discipline to the child’s heart. After all, if God
does not use our discipline to mold and shape their hearts, then
our discipline will be in vain.
Leadership in Submission
Husbands are not called to submit to their wives, nor to their
children, so how can we lead in submission? We can lead them
by submitting to the authorities in our own lives. Men who honor
God-ordained authority are usually honored, and men who
disrespect authority are almost always disrespected by those
under their charge. For example, Scripture says all Christian men
should live submissively underneath two God-ordained authorities:
1. Secular government.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
Remind them [members of the church] to be submissive to rulers
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,
whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent
by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do
good…Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:13-14,17
2. Church government.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping
watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 22
Declare these things: exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no
one disregard you.
If we bicker endlessly against the government, evade taxes,
and shirk traffic laws, then we should not be surprised when our
wives and children evade obedience, bicker endlessly about the
way we govern the home, and shirk our standards. Likewise, if we
refuse to acknowledge the God-ordained authority of church
government, live rebelliously against the gospel preached, and
bicker endlessly about elders and deacons, we should not be
surprised when our wives and children adopt the same attitude
toward us. Simply put, the members of our household learn
submission from our example. What is our example teaching
One more thing. In Ephesians 5:18-21, Paul uses four
participles to inform Christians how to be filled with the Spirit:
1. “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual
2. “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart”
3. “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
4. “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
After the last participle, “submitting”, Paul expounds what it
means to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. He
explains that wives should submit to their husbands (5:22),
children to their parents (6:1), and slaves to their masters (6:5),
but seemingly avoids talking to men how they should submit to
other members of the congregation out of reverence for Christ. If
Paul meant what he said, that every church member must “submit
to one another out of reverence for Christ”, then how do men
“submit” to others? “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved
the church” (5:25), “Fathers, do not provoke your children to
anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the
Lord” (6:4). Masters, do the same to them, and stop your
threatening” (6:9). Does that answer the question? If you are a
husband, you submit to others in the church by loving your wife
sacrificially, as Christ loved the church. If you are a father, you
submit to others by training your children in the fear and
admonition of the Lord. If you have servants in your home, or if
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 23
you have employees, then you submit to others by treating your
servants or employees with the same sincerity of heart and good
will with which they are supposed to treat you. Our lives, then, are
to be filled with submission to the roles God has called us.
The objection may be raised that the previous paragraph
sounds like a husband and father must submit to his wife and
children. But that is not what we are saying. What we are saying
is that husbands and fathers evidence they are filled with the Spirit
when they submit not to their wives and children but to the roles of
loving their wives and instructing and training their children. The
word translated “submission”44 is a military term meaning, “to fall
in line” or “to fulfill one’s particular responsibility for the sake of the
whole.” Thus, in an organized army, each enlisted person must
fulfill their role. If a low-ranking officer usurps the captain’s role,
there is anarchy and disunity, and if a captain abandons his
leadership role the army loses direction and cohesion. Each
member must “submit” to their role or the army falls apart. So too
in marriage and the home. The wife must submit to her husband,
and the husband must submit to his role as loving leader, or the
marriage will fall apart.
The difference between submitting to a person and submitting
to a role is easily illustrated. Jesus Christ loved us by submitting
Himself to His role as Savior. Did Jesus Christ love us by
submitting to us? No. But did Jesus Christ love us by submitting
to His God-ordained role as Savior? Yes. In similar fashion,
husbands, we love our wives not by submitting to them, but by
submitting to the God-ordained role to which husbands are called:
loving our wives as Christ loved the church.
But even if we do not prefer to call a husband’s love for his
wife submission to his God-ordained role, the outcome remains
the same: husbands are called to “fall into line” or carry out their
specific duty for the sake of the whole marriage, by loving their
wives as Christ loved the church.
Leadership in Love
Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave
Himself up for her.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 24
Gulp. Our pride is swallowed, or ought to be. A sober-minded
man who has tasted the sacrificial love of Christ considers himself
selfish, or ought to. Husbands, we must love our wives as Christ
loved the church. No, this is not a joke, and Paul is certainly not
kidding, or if he is he forgot to mention it. Please notice four
aspects of Christ’s love for His church, and as you do, weigh your
love for your wife in the balance.
Christ Died for His Church
Jesus gave us His very life, He laid it all down, and He
surrendered His life for His bride. He did not just talk about it or
merely say He was going to do it; He actually died for us.
Husbands, we must die for our wives! Most of us would
probably say, “Oh yeah, I would lay down my life for my wife. If
there was a car careening toward her, I would jump in front of it; if
a gunman aimed at her, I would take the bullet; if our plane
crashed on a mountain and there was only one morsel of food left,
I would let her eat it; and if we were on the Titanic, I would have
given up my seat on the life-boat to her. No question about it, I
am ready to die for my wife.” Let us test our claim...
What if our wives need help with the laundry, a diaper change,
mopping the floor, or putting the kids to bed? What if she needs a
neck rub, an adult conversation (no matter how mundane the
details!), you to cherish, treasure, and coddle her? Do we die for
our wives on a daily basis in the ways she needs us to die? If
not, we should rethink Christ’s death for us: He died because that
is what the Church needed, a perfect substitute! The question
then becomes: husbands, what does your wife need? In what
way does she need you to die for her? It might be something as
simple as getting home after work, as spending more time with
her, as reading the Bible together, or as listening to her recount all
the wonderful details of her day.
Christ Sought His Church
Notice the language of the text, “Husbands, love your wives, just
as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
Jesus Christ actively gave Himself up for us, His bride. “From
heaven He came and sought her” says the hymn. He voluntarily
came down to us; He made the effort, He initiated the relationship
between us. If He had not initiated the relationship, there would
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 25
be no relationship between Christ and His bride! We would still be
enemies with God, spitting in His face, stomping on His feet, trying
to erase Him from the pages of the universe, and wishing He was
I submit to you that the general tenor of our marriages must be
carried out seeking our wives. When there is conflict, we must
initiate resolution, reconciliation, and restoration. “Well”, you say,
“She started it and it’s all her fault.” That could be, but it matters
not. Think of Christ’s love for the church. When He was on earth,
did He sit down at the Temple and tell His bride to come and find
Him? No! “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was
lost.”45 Would we have a restored relationship with God if Jesus
Christ kept His seat warm in heaven, saying, “It is all their fault.
They started it in the Garden. They must come to me.” If Jesus
said that, we would still be hell-bound sinners. Praise God He
sought us; without His seeking us there would be no hope.
Husbands, without us seeking out our wives in tumultuous marital
times, there is no hope!
Christ Says “I Love You” to His Church
Husbands, have you ever heard an assurance of pardon in
worship? How often does God free you from fear, guilt,
condemnation and the fear that He is against you rather than for
you? Christ’s message to us is one of constant love. He tells us
that He loves us; he reminds us that He loves us; He commands
us to believe that He loves us; and just when we think we have
finally grasped the infinite depths of Christ’s love for us, He says
again, “I love you” from the Cross.
Husbands, if we are to love our wives as Christ loves the
church, then we must tell our wives that we love them, over and
over and over and over and over and over...again! Who knows,
we might find they actually like it...a lot.
Christ Died for His Church While She Was Unlovable46
If we check our hearts, we have likely found this maxim bouncing
around, “I will love my wife when...she no longer sins, gets her act
together, respects me, and becomes altogether lovely.” But the
call of the gospel in marriage is, “Husbands, love the unlovable.”
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 26
Even when they treat us wrongfully, even when they despise us,
and even when they cannot stand us. If this is a problem then go
look in the mirror and remember: she has to respect a man who is
un-respectable! That should help cure our unwillingness to love
an unlovable wife.
“This is impossible! How can any husband love his wife like
Christ loved the church?” Good question. Let’s answer it with a
There was a husband who cherished, loved, and gloated over
his wife, showing her off to everyone around him, and sacrificing
himself on a daily basis. But even amidst his undying, sacrificial
love, her heart was cold toward him and their marriage dwindled.
When he first asked her to be his wife, she was glad of it. She
welcomed their engagement, looked forward to the wedding day,
and longed to be in the arms of her husband. But after the
wedding, when marital idealism became marital reality, she
wanted out. She scorned him, complained against him
frequently, and had nothing nice to say to him.
To this man’s great credit, He still loved her. He made a
decision to love this lady, for better or for worse, so he did just
that. He forsook all other women, loved and cherished his wife,
always made time for her, always planned special occasions for
her, and made much ado about certain times of the calendar
year which she adored—birthday, religious holidays, and the like.
He did all this while she despised him. The flowers he hand-
picked during His walks of prayer were either trashed or left to
wilt on the counter where he lovingly placed them—he was the
only one who watered them; the notes of godly encouragement
and love-letters he left her were torn to pieces and left on the
counter as tokens of her animosity; his kisses met firmly pressed
lips, and his hugs embraced cold shoulders; and the time he
made available to spend with her was spent prying words out of
her until, at last, he believed it more godly not to pry.
To be sure, some days were better than others, but for the
most part she made no time for him, hung out with her friends,
and surrogated him with the spouse of career. As a result, he
often sat alone at the kitchen table, candles burnt down to the
holder, and the suppers he made dry in the oven or cold on the
table. As time went on, he cynically reasoned he should cook for
one, not two, but he could never bring himself to cook that
way...he loved her so much that if she walked through the door
even once, he wanted her to see him eagerly anticipating her as
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 27
the prodigal father anticipated his prodigal son. But, most nights
he cooked her a special dinner ended with him packaging up the
food, blowing out the candles, and waiting on the couch only to
have his drunk wife come staggering through the door half-
dressed, smelling like another man, and sexually satisfied by the
romance of another. He could not help but cry; he knew he had
to love her more radically to win her, so he did.
One day he planned a special occasion. He took Friday off
work to spend with his wife. He was determined to win his wife’s
affection. He did not tell his wife, and on Friday morning he
woke up early to prepare the day. He decorated the living room,
spread rose-pedals on the carpet, made her favourite breakfast,
and called her boss to tell her she was taking a personal day.
He even dusted the furniture, just as she liked it.
When she awoke, the entire house was decorated in flowers
and apple-smelling candles. The table was set, her favourite
breakfast was in the oven, and her husband met her in the
bedroom doorway with a smile, a dozen roses, and a kiss to let
her know it was really him and not a dream. Surely she would
melt under his persevering love.
Well, she endured it for a few hours: his company, his love,
his care for her, and his coddling, but by mid-morning she had
enough and decided to find a more permanent way to remove
him from her life. She liked the benefits of being married to him
(freedom, a big house, a nice car, and the social benefits of
hanging out with other married couples), but those benefits no
longer outweighed the burden of marriage. She was sick of him.
She put up with his relentless love; she tolerated his
sacrifice; she observed this man die for her; and she hoped he
would abandon her and make their divorce his fault. But his love
only grew, so, that Friday afternoon when he was trying so hard
to win her love, she decided the only way to get rid of this man
was to kill him. And that is what she did. Two shots in the head,
and one in the chest just to make sure he was completely
dead—she wanted to make sure he would live no more. In fact,
she attended the funeral only to make sure he was really dead,
really buried, and totally incapable of being alive, lest she have
to endure more of his love.
Well, the question arises, “What next? Was she thrown in jail?
Was she punished for her husband’s murder? What happened
next?” This: He rose from the dead and told his apostles to go to
the wife that killed Him and preach repentance and forgiveness to
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 28
his wife. Upon hearing this kind of love, she repented and
believed in Him.
You see, brothers, ever since God brought Israel out of Egypt,
she has been crying, “I want a divorce!” She complained that the
food was much better when single back in Egypt;47 she bickered
constantly, and communicated to God that she preferred whoring
with false gods than intimacy with our gracious God.48 When
Jesus sent her love-letters (prophets), she tore them up (killed
them); when Jesus brought her flowers (prosperous times) she
forgot Him; and when Jesus made an incredible meal for her she
ate, got fat, and then turned away from Him.49 The husband is
Jesus Christ, we are the bride, and Paul says to Christian
husbands, “Love your wives just as Christ loved the church.” How
did Christ love His wife? By dying for a Bride that hated Him.
When that melts our hearts, we will start to see ourselves in our
wives’ disrespect, catching a glimpse of what we looked like to
Christ as He hung on the Cross, and be melted into love for our
We, my brothers, are the scandalous wife; we are the
husband-rejecting bride. We whore after other husbands (money,
career, approval, possessions, success), while Jesus Christ
serves us with His entire life. Every time we come back to Him,
smelling like another lover, He loves us. And each time we
faithlessly live as though we wish He were dead, He is faithful to
pursue us. With such love we must pursue our wives.
Leadership in Singleness & Sexuality50
What do Jesus Christ and His greatest apostle—Paul—have in
common? Singleness. In the new covenant, singleness is a gift
from God to speedily and fruitfully advance His kingdom through
the tireless, intentional, and focused work of Christians devoted to
Jesus Christ. If you are a single man, whether by gift51 or by
Hosea 1:2; 2:2,5,13; 3:1-3.
Deuteronomy 31:20; 32:15.
For a detailed, biblical treatment of Christian singleness, see Redeeming
Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life by Barry
1 Corinthians 7:7.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 29
providence,52 you are single by God’s design and have a special
calling while such. All the time a husband spends trying to please
his wife, 53 the single man devotes to pleasing Jesus Christ.54
Marriage brings about many worldly troubles.55 While the married
man studies his wife, converses with her, works to provide for her,
does the dishes, changes diapers, handles emotional crises, runs
to the store for flowers at 10pm on their anniversary (again), and
asks continual forgiveness for the wretch he is, the single man
spends time studying Jesus Christ, conversing with him, and
sacrificing his life for the advancement of His great name. Single,
Christian men are free to serve the Lord with more time than a
married man, and single men should evaluate whether God has
called them to marriage or gifted them with singleness.56
Godly, single men are pillars of fruitfulness in the church.
Where single men serve others, the church is radically
encouraged, for single men are by nature the most self-centered,
self-indulgent, and self-absorbed human beings on the planet.57 If
they pour their lives out in genuine service toward others, it means
the Holy Spirit has changed their hearts with the gospel.
If you are single, please note a couple things:
1. If Jesus Christ is not enough for you now, then marriage will
crush you and your wife. If you look to people or things to
satisfy the deepest cravings of your soul now, rather than to
Jesus Christ, then you will use a wife to satisfy those cravings.
You should know something: a creature, even a supermodel
wife, cannot satisfy your soul. Your heart was made for God,
and it will be restless until it finds its rest in Him.58 No creature
can withstand the weight of god-hood or supply you with what
only God can supply. Single men should cultivate a
passionate love-relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and
married men should live so endearingly with Jesus Christ that
1 Corinthians 7:39-40.
1 Corinthians 7:33.
1 Corinthians 7:32.
1 Corinthians 7:28.
1 Corinthians 7:8.
I have no prooftext for this statement; only personal observation and
St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 30
though they have wives, they live as though they had none.59
Marriage is temporary60 and passing away,61 so though we
enjoy our wives we must remember that death will someday
end our marriage, and all marriages are nothing more than a
pointer to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.62
2. If you burn with sexual desire, seek a wife.63 Dorothy Sayers
sarcastically asked and answered rhetorical questions
according to the prudishness with which the church of her day
viewed Christian sexuality:
Q.: What does the church think of sex?
A.: God made it necessary to the machinery of the world,
and tolerates it, provided the parties (a) are married, and
(b) get no pleasure out of it.
Q.: What does the church call sin?”
A.: Sex (otherwise than as excepted above)…
What is her point? Her point is to parody a legalistic view
of sex that we might—heaven forbid—laugh for a moment and
possibly conclude that God designed sex within marriage for
our enjoyment! I know, I know; there is that nasty word,
“enjoyment” again, and connected with “sex” it seems an
obvious target of divine condemnation. But physical intimacy
within the bonds of marriage is designed by God for our
enjoyment. In fact, one purpose of marriage is subduing
sexual immorality through the proper enjoyment of sex.
Wives, not fiancés, not girlfriends, and not random women, are
the God-ordained means for guilt-free, Christ-exalting, God-
glorifying sexual satisfaction. Any sexual activity outside of an
exclusive, permanent marriage bond cannot satisfy you
sexually; it will only arouse sexual desire and enslave you to
sex. But sex within an exclusive, permanent marriage
1 Corinthians 7:29.
1 Corinthians 7:31.
For more on marriage as a temporary institution of God to glorify Christ’s
love for his bride, the church, seeThis Momentary Marriage: A Parable of
Permanence by John Piper.
1 Corinthians 7:9.
Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church: The Dogma Is the
Drama, p. 19.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 31
covenant will take you to ecstatic heights and set you free from
3. When seeking a wife, seek your best friend, not a sex object.
Hollywood marriages compose the most externally beautiful
people in the world, yet their marriages come and go like Indy
cars. Why? Because you cannot build a solid marriage on
sexual attraction—it is impossible. Spouses are best friends
journeying hand-in-hand down “Sanctification Boulevard”
toward “Holiness Hotel.”65 They are not sex objects for self-
centered use. And if you enter a marriage not with your best
friend, but with an object of your sexual desire, then one of
three things will happen: One, your marriage will end in official
divorce because the true source of sexual pleasure is
friendship, not body type. Two, your marriage will end in
functional divorce, and though you never sign the papers, you
will merely co-habitate in perpetual frustration; Three, your
marriage will become delightful because you stopped viewing
your wife as a sex object and became her best friend. God
has so designed sexual intimacy that using it apart from
relational, financial, psychological and emotional intimacy is
awkward and empty. Physical nakedness must be preceded
by relational nakedness to be enjoyed:
The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is
that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of
union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which
were intended to go along with it and make up the total
union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is
anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than
about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not
isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than
you ought to try to get the pleasure of taste without
swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting
them out again.
The single person, looking distantly toward to
marriage or already engaged, often asks the question,
“How do I know if I am marrying a friend or merely a sex
object (a lover)?” C.S. Lewis offers this diagnostic:
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity: Christian Marriage, pp. 104-105.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 32
Lovers are always talking to one another about their love;
Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are
normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side
by side, absorbed in some common interest.
Do you pursue common goals, common interests, and
godliness together, or do you just stare at each other in self-
absorption? Friends pursue and accomplish; lovers waste
away in idleness. Of course, spouses should be lovers too,
but not to the exclusion of friendship, and only on the basis of
friendship. A spouse who is your best friend easily becomes a
lover; but a spouse who is only a lover rarely, and only through
much hard work, becomes your best friend.
It has been said that society and the church are only as strong as
the family unit. It is true. The parallel can also be drawn to us: we
are only as strong as our marriage and family. If everything in life
(career, friends, success, and popularity) is going well, but our
marriage or home is a wreck, then we are weak. And if everything
in life is a wreck, but our marriage and home are well, then we are
strong. We are only as strong as our home-life, so it makes sense
that second only to Jesus Christ, we make our wives and homes
our greatest priorities. Society and our church depend upon it.
LEADERSHIP IN THE WORKPLACE
Men were created to work:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden
to work it and keep it.
More than that, men were created to enjoy work:
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and
drink and find enjoyment in his toil.
Men were made to accomplish things, to build, to construct, to
erect, to decipher, to produce, to generate, to manufacture, to
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves: Friendship, p. 61.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 33
invent, to explore, and to be fruitful with the “stuff” of creation. To
the extent we fulfill this calling, God bestows soul-satisfaction; to
the extent we neglect this calling, we feel guilty and depressed.
We were created by God to work, so work we must.
One spur to work is noticing the adverse effects of laziness.
For example, David committed his notorious sin in the spring of
the year when kings normally go out to battle.68 Instead of battling
as usual, David sent Joab and the army, meanwhile spending his
days lazily in Jerusalem. It was because his rear was glued to
“his couch” that David fell into sin with Bathsheba. Had he been
fighting, he would not have seen her, inquired about her and slept
with her. What is the point? Men are designed to work, and when
we work not, our idle hands become tools for Satan.
This brief look at work follows the following outline:
6. The Sluggard
7. The Sluggard in Us
8. The Anti-Sluggard
9. A Christian Perspective on Work
10. A Christian Perspective on Rest
David is a rather minor example of laziness, for overall he labored
industriously. However, there is one person in the Bible who
stands out like ketchup on a white shirt as an emblem of laziness.
The proverbial sluggard.
Solomon tells us much fruit can be harvested from the life of
the sluggard if we do three things: look at the sluggard, consider
him, and receive instruction from him.69 The following, then, is a
brief look at the sluggard. The sluggard is:
2 Samuel 11:1-3.
Proverbs 24:30: “I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a
man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground
was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw
and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little
slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you
like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 34
1. A man who takes no initiative. 70 Each ant recognizes her duty
to the colony as a whole, and thus initiates her own work
habits, but the sluggard needs someone to compel or force
him to work, and unless compelled, he will not expend effort
for the good of society.
2. Irritating due to unreliability.71 Like ice-cream to sensitive teeth
and smoke to open eyes, so is the sluggard to those who
depend upon him. Though he gives every impression of
normalcy, he soon irritates everyone who relies upon him
because he is too lazy to follow instructions. Employers hire
him, but his laziness complicates the simplest tasks; his
friends lean on him, but he abandons them because
friendships are too much work; and his family looks to him for
leadership, but he abdicates.
3. Soul-sick.72 He defines his life by his lack. He craves, hopes,
wishes, and talks about what could have been or what could
be, but exerts no effort to satisfy his cravings. The diligent, on
the other hand, no matter how much he obtains, is deeply
satisfied and content in soul. Whether his work produces
wealth or mere subsistence, he who exuberantly applies his
God-given gifts to life is satisfied, for at the end of the day his
soul rests content in the knowledge that he has labored
faithfully, which is all God asks of us.
4. Too lazy for long-term living. 73 The difference between the
upright and the sluggard can be illustrated by a road. Picture
two, parallel paths, each 10 miles long, one belonging to the
sluggard and one to the upright, on which each travels to work.
The sluggard’s path is filled with thorns, thistles, thick brush,
tall weeds, and uneven ground because he is too lazy to clear
Proverbs 6:6-11: “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be
wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in
summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O
sluggard? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
Proverbs 10:26: “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the
sluggard to those who send him.”
Proverbs 13:4: “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while
the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”
Proverbs 15:19: “The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the
path of the upright is a level highway.” Proverbs 20:4: “The sluggard does
not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 35
it and too near-sighted to discern the long-term benefits of
spending time up front to save himself time later. By contrast,
the path of the upright is level and cleared, for he worked hard
initially to establish and maintain a level path. Simply put, the
difference between the sluggard and the upright is the
sluggard always complains about the same obstacles in his
life, the obstacles which he is too lazy to overcome. Thinking
that he is actually saving time, the sluggard may appear more
fruitful than the upright initially, but years later the upright
walks on a level path while the sluggard remains stuck in the
thorny path of his own laziness.
5. Wasteful of time and talents.74 Matthew Henry writes, “Slothful
people doze away their time, bury their talents, live a useless
life, and are the unprofitable burdens of the earth.”
Slothfulness becomes a way of life which atrophies God-given
talents. A wise man hones his skills, perfecting those most
needed and learning new skills in order to arouse from
slumber every aspect of God-giftedness, but the sloth wastes
his time and talents on the couch of life.
6. A slave to his own desires.75 The desires of the sluggard drain
him, but serving others drives the upright. The sluggard
craves that which benefits himself only; the upright craves that
which benefits others. Oddly enough, a man enslaved to his
self-serving desires is as good as dead—he cannot enjoy
life—for God made us to glorify Him and serve others.
7. Overly idealistic. First, he is overly idealistic about risk,76 and
will not do anything until all risk (the lion) is removed from
work, from marriage, from parenting, and from friendships.
Second, he is overly idealistic about physical comfort,77 and so
will not endure the pain of wearing himself out even to feed
Proverbs 19:15: “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person
will suffer hunger.”
Proverbs 21:25: “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse
to labor. All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and
does not hold back.”
Proverbs 22:13: “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be
killed in the streets!’” Proverbs 26:13-15: “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion
in the road! There is a lion in the streets!’”
Proverbs 26:15: “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out
to bring it back to his mouth.” Proverbs 19:24: “The sluggard buries his hand
in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.”
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 36
himself, and will not go outside his comfort zone (his bed) to
learn, grow, and produce.78 Third, he is overly idealistic
intellectually,79 for though men smarter and wiser answer
humbly, the sluggard, wise in his own eyes80 and too proud to
put his answer under scrutiny, convinces himself he could
have answered better. The sluggard cowards behind idealism,
never entering reality because he knows reality would make a
fool out of him and his idealism.
8. Greedy for unjust gain.81 The sluggard cares not about
providing society with a valuable product or service, but only
how to get rich quick. His worthless pursuits—his impatient,
get-rich-quick schemes—may consist of bribery,82 hoarding,83
or stealing from his parents (inheritance scandals; loving
parents for the sake of their money).84
The Sluggard in Us
The second step to benefit from the sluggard is considering him.
This is the hard work of self-examination—searching for the
sluggard in our hearts. Within each of us—even the hardest
working among us—is a sluggard. As you saw the sluggard, did
your mind fixate upon the notoriously lazy “someone else”? If so,
then you are missing the point. If ever we are to grow in Christ-
likeness we must think about our own sluggardliness. If you are a
sinful Christian man who has not yet received his glorious, sinless
body (I suspect that includes everyone reading this), then
underneath the blanket of our activity lies a measure of apathy,
and beneath the tarp of our industry hides some torpidity. So,
relative to the eight characteristics of the sluggard, let us consider
the ways we hate work, eschew work, avoid work, excuse
laziness, and work not for others but for ourselves only. No matter
Proverbs 26:14: “As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his
Proverbs 26:16: “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men
who can answer sensibly.”
Proverbs 28:19, “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he
who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.”
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 37
how hard we may work, we all have some measure of
sluggardliness in us. We are sluggardly:
1. If the prodding of our employers, customers, creditors, or
family members is part of our motivation to work. We should
not need to be prodded by anyone at anytime to work; we
should always be self-motivated.
2. If we are non-committal, flighty, unreliable, unpredictable,
untrustworthy, and/or disloyal in our work.
3. If we view our work not as God-honoring in and of itself, but
only as a means to a material end. We were created to work,
so work, in and of itself, regardless of how much money we
make, is honoring to God. Are there times you haven’t worked
because the work does not provide you enough immediate
gratification (money, profit, personal benefit), though it might
have provided others with much benefit? If so, then you have
been a sluggard.
4. If we live and work for the moment. The diligent look long-
term, and so work hard in the present that they may be more
productive in the future. The sluggard expends no such effort
and accomplishes only that which must be done in order to
5. If we merely go through the motions at work, mentally or
physically snoozing our way through the day, praying for the
day’s end to come quickly.
6. If we work self-centeredly, not to help those in need, but
merely to accumulate for ourselves the desires our hearts.
7. If we refuse to make decisions entrusted to our care; if we
sacrifice hard work and productivity on the altar of excess
physical, mental, or emotional comfort; and if we are too proud
to learn from others—even from the “lowliest” of people. Work
is risky; work is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing;
and work is immensely humbling for we must always be
learning that which we do not know from someone who knows.
Therefore the diligent put their heads on the chopping block,
wear themselves out, and care not from whom they learn as
long as they are learning.
8. If our work provides nothing beneficial to society (some forms
of day-trading may fall under this category).
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 38
The third step in benefitting from the sluggard is to receive
instruction. Relative to the eight characteristics of the sluggard,
here are eight, gospel facets to purge out sluggardliness and
permeate our hearts with Christ-centered motivation to work:
1. Jesus Christ came voluntarily to accomplish redemption. No
one forced Him to lay down His life in sacrificial service; He
laid it down of His own accord85—He desired to lay it down.
He did so to deliver us from the slavery of indentured service;
now we are free to work joyfully because we have been
forgiven of and freed from the guilt of our unwillingness.
2. Jesus Christ delivered us from our unreliability by being
reliable. In fact, Jesus Christ is so reliable that the Godhead
itself depends upon Him to keep its promises.86 Jesus Christ
came, born of a woman,87 to smash Satan’s skull at the
Skull,88 no less than 4000 years after God promised He
would.89 Fear of hard work, fear of sweat, fear of toil, and fear
of danger kept Him not from coming. Do you see how reliable
He is? Do you know why He is so reliable? He desired to
deliver us from the curse of Adam’s unreliability in order to set
us free serving God and others with perseverance, patience,
3. Jesus Christ became soul-sick so that we could be delivered
from it. He wept for a friend,90 He mourned the unrepentant,91
He was moved in His intestines with compassion for the lost
and hurting,92 and He craved the day when His redemptive
work would culminate in the Holy Spirit doing greater works
than His on earth.93 He paid for our discontentment by
zealously seeking our redemption and giving our hearts a
place to rest contentedly—in Him.
2 Corinthians 1:19-20; Cf. Hebrews 10:23.
Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 39
4. Jesus Christ knew that long-term glory would cost Him short-
term pain, so for the joy that was set before Him,94 namely, an
eternity of praise from the angels and us, He left His level path
to bear in His body the pain of our thorn-filled path—the crown
of thorns95—so that we sluggards might walk upon the level
path our Savior cleared for us.
5. Jesus Christ came to this earth making the most of His time,
paying the price of our laziness. He wore Himself out for you,
and suffered the penalty due our wasted lives. He prayed
while people slept;96 He traveled to each place He came to
serve;97 and He sacrificed mealtimes to heal the diseased and
cast out demons, to the extent His family concluded, “He is out
of his mind.”98 So tirelessly and efficiently did He labor for you
and I that He slept soundly in a raging storm99 on a tiny boat
until His disciples woke Him. Do you see how much time He
dedicated to us, and do you see how much our redemption
6. Jesus Christ put aside his cravings and desires, emptying
Himself of all prerogatives of deity,100 taking on human flesh,
and paying the penalty for our sinful cravings. We idolize and
crave the necessities of life by putting our hope in food,
shelter, and clothing, but Jesus would not worship these;101 we
crave sin and so put God’s patience to the test, but Jesus
would not;102 and we strive for self-worship, doing whatever
necessary—flattery, external parades of righteousness, false
displays of humility, plagiarizing, boasting of
accomplishments—to manipulate our spouses, children,
friends and co-workers, but Jesus would not.103 Jesus
subordinated His every desire to our redemption. When that
changes us, we will subordinate our every desire to serve Him!
Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; Matthew 14:23
Matthew 8:24; Luke 8:23.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 40
7. Jesus incarnation obliterates Christian idealism. Regarding
risk, Jesus Christ came not merely at the risk of His life but at
the cost of His life. He knew that our deliverance from the
roaring lion104 demanded His sacrificial death. Regarding
physical comfort, Jesus experienced the pain of birth;105 He
labored as a carpenter;106 He went without meals;107 He stayed
up the entire night of His betrayal though His disciples slept
from exhaustion;108 He was so stressed out about facing the
hell of God’s wrath against our sin He sweat blood;109 He
endured about 6 trials on the day of His crucifixion; 110 He
underwent scourging with whips that tore the skin off His
back;111 He was abandoned by His best friends;112 He became
so weak He faltered under the weight of His cross;113 and the
weight of His entire body hung upon two nails and a footstool
while asphyxiation, scorn, and especially the cup of wrath114
crushed Him. Regarding intellectual idealism, Jesus Christ
humbly “learned” obedience115 in the classroom of incarnation,
and increased in wisdom with each year.116 Do you ever
wonder if your work will take so much out of you that you will
never be the same person you were before? Have you ever
considered that what Jesus “learned” (experienced) via His
redeeming work has left its permanent mark upon Him, upon
His hands and His side?117 For our sake, He left heaven to
1 Peter 5:8.
Matthew 26:40, 43.
First trial: John 18:12-14, 19-23 (Annas). Second Trial: Matthew 26:59-
66; Mark 14:55-64; John 18:24 (Caiaphas). Third trial: Matthew 27:1; Mark
15:1a; Luke 22:66-71 (Sanhedrin/Council). Fourth trial: Matthew 27:2, 11-
14; Mark 15:1b-5; Luke 23:1-5; John 18:29-38 (Pilate, round 1). Fifth trial:
Luke 23:6-12 (Herod). Sixth trial: Luke 23:13-16, the results of which are
displayed in Matthew 27:15-23; Mark 15:6-14; Luke 23:17-23; John 18:39-40
(Pilate, round 2).
Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1.
Matthew 26:39, 42.
Hebrews 5:8; Philippians 2:8.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 41
learn the burdensomeness of a finite mind and limited
strength, to learn the monotony of menial labor (carpentry), to
learn the emotional pain of rejection by those we love,118 those
we love dearly,119 and the one we love most dearly.120 What
does all this mean? True wisdom in the form of sensible
answers cannot come from an idealist; it can only come from
someone who has incarnated into the world of questioners.
Jesus Christ partook of our flesh and blood, really and truly,
and was made like us in every respect, so that he might
become a merciful and faithful high priest.121 Since He
eschewed human idealism by becoming real, He is able to
answer God for us and help us with our questions and
temptations, for He himself suffered through temptations and
knows the difficulties of living as a Christian in a pain-filled
8. Jesus Christ knew there was nothing “quick” about
accomplishing our redemption. He labored more than 12,000
days, never once short-cutting the work He came to do. In the
Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus wrestled patiently with the pain
of our redemption. The pain was so intense, He asked His
Father if there was a get-redemption-quick scheme He could
follow, but concluded His request with, “Nevertheless, not My
will but Yours be done.”123 Jesus Christ endured the long,
tedious, painful work of our redemption. When that melts our
hearts the get-rich-quick schemes abscond, and we willingly
wrestle with work’s daily grind.
In short, Jesus entire life was work on our behalf. He spent
about 35 years toiling under excruciating pain. What does all this
mean for Christian men? It means life is work, hard work,
strenuous work, draining work, and exhausting work. To this we
have been called. But there is only one way you and I will ever
get out of bed in the morning for the right reason, and that is if our
work is a grateful response to the work which Jesus Christ
Mark 14:50; John 16:32.
Hebrews 2:14, 17.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 42
accomplished on our behalf. Now, go and work joyfully, not to
earn God’s acceptance, but because He already accepts you.124
A Christian Perspective on Work
Where do we go from here? One way forward is reprogramming
the way we look at work. Sluggardliness is sinful, Jesus Christ
has paid the penalty of our sluggardliness, and now, as Christian
men, we ask, “What does thankfulness for Jesus’ work on my
behalf look like? How does a thankful, Christian man approach
The Reality of Work
No matter the enthusiasm with which we serve God in our work,
work yields endless frustration and stress. Since Adam and Even
fell in the Garden of Eden, work has been under a curse. God
said to Adam:
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have
eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat
of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat
of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth
for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of
your face you shall eat bread.
What does the curse look like today? The “pain” and “sweat” of
the curse looks like hard work, aching feet, soar backs, worn-out
knees, popping joints, weakening muscles, waning sight, declining
hearing, and dilapidated memory. Some call it the daily grind,
some the rat race, and others Monday morning, but all
acknowledge the pain and sweat of work. Anyone whose work
involves no emotional, physical, spiritual, or psychological
pain/sweat is probably not working, at least not very hard.
What of the thorns and thistles? These are the failed
endeavors, the small businesses gone out of business, the
bankruptcy claims, the pink slips to 20-year employees, and the
business meetings gone bad. An industrious man labors for 30
years, 60 hours per week, to build a solid company, and all his
work disappears down the drain of a national, economic crisis.
Thorn. Another man invests 3 weeks bidding a job only to lose
Genesis 3:17-19; italics added for emphasis.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 43
the bid to a competitor by a fraction of a percent. Thistle. Still
another pours 35 years of his heart and soul into a large
corporation and they “thank” him by terminating his position
without notice, apology, or severance package. What is this?
From where does this come? Why can a man work, sweat, and
lay down his life in service to his calling only to have it all collapse
under his feet and leave him a pauper? Because Adam’s sin
merited God’s curse upon work.
The Reasons for Work
If work is cursed, then why ought Christians to work? Ought we
not rather avoid work? What possible good can come from work?
The Apostle Paul answers these questions with five reasons why
Christians should labor diligently:
1. Self-reliance. “We hear that some among you walk in
idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such
persons we command…to earn their own living.”126 “Aspire…to
work with your hands…so that you may…be dependent on no
2. Providing for his family. “If anyone does not provide for his
relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has
denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”128
3. Assisting anyone in need. “Let the thief no longer steal, but
rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so
that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”129
4. Financially supporting Christians in other geographic locations.
“Concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to
write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to
love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all
the brothers throughout Macedonia.”130 “Now concerning the
collection for the saints…On the first day of every week, each
of you is to put something aside and store it up.”131 “I am going
to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and
2 Thessalonians 3:11-12.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.
1 Timothy 5:8.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 44
Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the
poor among the saints at Jerusalem.”132
5. Witnessing to non-Christians. “Aspire…to work with your
hands…so that you may walk properly before outsiders.”133
Richard Phillips summarizes a man’s relationship to work this way:
Nobody respects a man who doesn’t work. It’s just as simple as
that. It’s OK for a man to be dumb or ugly or even a little
unpleasant, so long as he works hard. But nothing is worse than
a guy who won’t work.
Consider the scorn the apostle Paul heaps upon a lazy man:
‘If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).
Christianity does not say, “Well, if he won’t work, we’ll just give
him what he needs.” No, Paul says, “Let him starve until he
starts working.” Why is this? Because men are made by God to
work. Men have a duty to work. Men like to work and they feel
really good when they work hard. The life of a man is a life of
work. This is good and it pleases God.
The Ideal of Work
Though she writes idealistically and should be taken in stride,
Dorothy Sayers, a British novelist and playwright and cohort of
C.S. Lewis, wrote a chapter, Why Work?, in her book, Letters to a
Diminished Church. Toward the end of the chapter she offers, in
typically straight-forward fashion, her two cents on Christian work,
which cents I consider an accurate perspective of Christian work.
What follows are her propositions and implications:
1. Her first proposition:
Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one
lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the
worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental,
and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers
himself to God.
a. First implication of her proposition:
We have all got it fixed in our heads that the proper end of
work is to be paid for…But if our proposition is true, this does
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.
Richard Phillips, Masculine Mandate, p. 17.
Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church, pp. 134-135.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 45
not follow at all. So long as Society provides the worker with
a sufficient return in wealth to enable him to carry on the
work properly, then he has his reward. For his work is the
measure of his life, and his satisfaction is found in the
fulfillment of his own nature, and in contemplation of the
perfection of his work.
That, in practice, there is this satisfaction, is shown by
the mere fact that a man will put loving labor into some
hobby which can never bring him any economically
adequate return. His satisfaction comes…from looking upon
what he has made and finding it very good…It is only when
work has to be looked on as a means to gain that it becomes
hateful; for then, instead of a friend, it becomes an enemy
from whom tolls and contributions have to be extracted.
b. Second implication of her proposition:
At present we have no clear grasp of the principle that every
man should do the work for which he is fitted by nature. The
employer is obsessed by the notion that he must find cheap
labor, and the worker by the notion that the best-paid job is
the job for him. Only feebly, inadequately, and
spasmodically do we ever attempt to tackle the problem from
the other end, and inquire: What type of worker is suited to
this type of work?
c. Third implication of her proposition:
If we really believed this proposition…we should no longer
think of work as something that we hastened to get through
in order to enjoy our leisure; we should look on our leisure as
the period of changed rhythm that refreshed us for the
delightful purpose of getting on with our work.
d. Fourth implication of her proposition:
We should fight tooth and nail, not for mere employment, but
for the quality of work that we had to do. We should clamor
to be engaged in work that was worth doing, and in which we
could take pride. The worker would demand that the stuff he
helped to turn out should be good stuff…There would be
protests and strikes—not only about pay and conditions, but
Ibid., pp. 135-136.
Ibid., p. 136.
Ibid., pp. 136-137.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 46
about the quality of the work demanded and the honesty,
beauty, and usefulness of the goods produced. The greatest
insult which a commercial age has offered to the worker has
been to rob him of all interest in the end product of the work
and to force him to dedicate his life to making badly things
which were not worth making.
2. Her second proposition:
It is the business of the church to recognize that the secular
vocation, as such, is sacred. Christian people, and particularly
perhaps the Christian clergy, must get it firmly into their heads
that when a man or woman is called to a particular job of secular
work, that is as true a vocation as though he or she were called
to specifically religious work…It is not right for [the Church] to
acquiesce in the notion that a man’s life is divided into the time
he spends on his work and the time he spends in serving God.
He must be able to serve God in his work…
In nothing has the Church so lost Her hold on reality as in
Her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She
has allowed work and religion to become separate departments,
and is astonished to find that, as a result, the secular work of the
world is turned to purely selfish and destructive ends, and that
the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become
irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion. But is it
astonishing? How can anyone remain interested in a religion
which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of this life?
The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually
confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his
leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the
Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand
that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good
…No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare
swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if
they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same
hand that made Heaven and earth.
…Let the Church remember this: that every maker and
worker is called to serve God in his profession or trade—not
outside it. The Apostles complained rightly when they said it was
not meet they should leave the word of God and serve tables
[Acts 6:1-6]; their vocation was to preach the word. But the
person whose vocation it is to prepare the meals beautifully
Ibid., pp. 137-138.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 47
might with equal justice protest: “It is not meet for us to leave the
service of our tables to preach the word.”
The official Church wastes time and energy, and, moreover,
commits sacrilege, in demanding that secular workers should
neglect their proper vocation in order to do Christian work—by
which She means ecclesiastical work. The only Christian work is
good work well done. Let the Church see to it that the workers
are Christian people and do their work well, as to God: then all
the work will be Christian work, whether it is church embroidery,
or sewage farming.
A Christian Perspective on Rest
No biblical perspective on work is complete without a theology of
rest: work without rest is slavery; rest without work is
sluggardliness; work interlaced with rest is godliness.
God created the world in six days and rested the seventh
On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and
he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it
God rested from all his work that he had done in creation
In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all
that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.
One is tempted to say six days of creation wore God out, after
all, creating everything from nothing, in six days, with a Word, is
hard work. Surely God needed to rest His voice box, or so we
might think, after He voiced the world into being, but such is not
the case. Unlike us, who tire from carrying 8’ fence posts, the
voice of the Almighty breaks the massive cedars of Lebanon.142
Unlike us, whose words are lost quickly in the air, the voice of the
LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.143 The Creator of the
ends of the earth does not faint or grow weary;144 therefore, I say
respectfully, “He rested” cannot mean, “He slept in, lounged on
Ibid., p. 138-140.
See also Hebrews 4:4.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 48
heaven’s couch, took an afternoon nap, and went to bed early.”
What, then, does it mean for God to have rested? The Holy Spirit
gives us a hint:
In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the
seventh day he rested and was refreshed.
The verb translated “refreshed” is used only three times in the Old
Testament.145 It means, “to catch one’s breath, refresh
oneself” , “the refreshment that comes from catching one’s
breath during rest.”147 The word itself, then, does not solve our
conundrum, but its use in Exodus 23:12 gives us a clue:
Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you
shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the
son of your servant women, and the alien, may be refreshed.
The son of a servant woman and the alien (foreigner,
sojourner) were allowed one day off per week to “be refreshed.”
This likely meant different things for each. For the son of a
servant woman, a day off in Israel meant Israel’s God did not
demand His people be workaholics enslaved to work. Slaves
were not required to work themselves to death. For the alien, a
day off meant he could familiarize himself with the geographic and
cultural surroundings, become acquainted with the big picture of
Israelite life, and have opportunity to find out where his work fits
into the rest of society. As he did, he might make himself at home
in Israel, and he might even worship Israel’s God.
For God to refresh Himself, then, and for us to follow His
example of refreshment, means:
1. God does not promote workaholism. Our God is not a
workaholic, and neither does He prefer we be. God did not
enslave Himself to work, and neither should we. We are
created to work, but work is not the only reason we were
created. Since Adam’s fall into sin, we
The other two uses are in Exodus 23:12 and 2 Samuel 16:14.
William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old
Testament, p. 242.
New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis,
Edited by Willem A. VanGemeren, p. 133.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 49
2. God enjoys the fruit of His labors. We might imagine our
blessed Creator and Redeemer marveling at creation,
singing His own song, and rejoicing in the work of His
hands. The stars beaming, the planets orbiting, and the
earth teeming with creatures all proclaim Him divine. In
some small way, then, rest from our work humbles us
when we see how little we have accomplished compared
with God, and allows us to lift up our eyes and notice the
world around us, acquainting ourselves with the big picture
of life, and having opportunity to find out where our work
fits into the rest of society.
Our gracious God so knows our tendency to immerse
ourselves in work, that He demands we lift up our heads from the
Ostrich hole and look around. When work becomes an idol, our
minds become myopic, and life grows bland and dull.
Rest, then, is what we all need. God knows it and
recommends we do it:
It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the
bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
[Jesus] said to [the apostles], “Come away by yourselves to a
desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and
going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away
in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
Are you burned out? Are you running a million miles per hour and
accomplishing nothing? Is your life a German autobahn, great for
going somewhere, and always going somewhere else; always a
journey with a destination, but never arriving and despising the
trip? Is it hard for you to enjoy God, to delight your soul in Him,
and to rest in what He has done for you rather than in what you
are doing for Him? Stop, breathe, catch your breath, and refresh
yourself. Take a vacation, and spend it studying God’s creation,
marveling at God’s creation, and enjoying God’s creation. And
then, interestingly enough, the gospel of re-creation in Christ
will delight your soul and rejuvenate your inmost being. And while
away from work, remove it from your mind. You need not fear: it
is waiting for your return, ready to demand of you sweat and toil,
and promising to bear thorns and thistles. Your work has not
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 50
forgotten about you, so you must forget about it, or it will consume
Charles Spurgeon was a gifted man with a tremendous work
ethic. He poured long hours into reading, writing, and teaching,
and often suffered from long bouts of depression. One might think
such a man had no place for rest, but in one of his lectures to his
seminary students, he urged them to spend one day a week
resting, since Sunday (“Sabbath”) is a day of work for ministers.
Spurgeon had this to say about the necessity of rest:
Repose is as needful to the mind as sleep to the body. Our
Sabbaths are our days of toil, and if we do not rest upon some
other day we shall break down. Even the earth must lie fallow
and have her Sabbaths, and so must we. Hence the wisdom
and compassion of our Lord, when he said to his disciples, “Let
us go into the desert and rest awhile!” What! when the people
are fainting? When the multitudes are like sheep upon the
mountains without a shepherd? Does Jesus talk of rest?...The
Master knows better than to exhaust his servants and quench
the light of Israel. Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to
gather fresh strength.
In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.
On, on, on for ever, without recreation, may suit spirits
emancipated from this “heavy clay”, but while we are in this
tabernacle, we must every now and then cry halt and serve the
Lord by holy inaction and consecrated leisure. Let no tender
conscience doubt the lawfulness of going out of harness for
awhile, but learn from the experience of others the necessity and
duty of taking timely rest.
We conclude this brief look at Christian work with a reminder: all
work done apart from a grateful response to Jesus’ salvific work
will inexorably disappoint, leaving our souls empty, our hearts
insecure, and our consciences uneasy. Christians work not to
impress God or earn His favorable glance. If you are in Christ,
God is already impressed and favorable toward you. Work, then,
not under the slavery of becoming acceptable to God, but as a
free man, a child of God, a pilgrim passing through, and a beloved
Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: The Minister’s Fainting Fits,
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 51
worker hired by God to accomplish His work while we yet live.
And when you grow tired, take Spurgeon’s advice: “I work myself
to death, and pray myself to life again.” And when praying
yourself to life again does not revitalize, then rest; rest hard; rest
well, for God gives us sleep.
LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH
The church is to be led by men, not women.149 Paul gives two
reasons why this is so:
1. “Adam was formed first, then Eve.”150 The order in which God
created Adam and Eve was important. God was saying, in
effect, that though Adam was lonely and incomplete without
Eve, he could still function.151 But Eve is entirely dependent
upon Adam—she came after him and from him. God did not
create her first for she could not have functioned in the world
without the guidance of Adam.
This means, gentlemen, that women feel most womanly
when godly men lead in godliness.152 A church absent godly,
male leadership, is a church with frightened, insecure, and
instable women unable to function according to God’s design.
Women will fill the leadership void if necessary, but it ruins
them because they were not created to bear the stress of
church leadership. When grown men depend upon women to
lead the church, the women fall apart—either into domineering
pride or stressed-out despair—and so does the church.
1 Timothy 2:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3.
1 Timothy 2:13.
Genesis 2:18-20. Adam established dominion over the animals by
naming them, prior to Eve’s creation. He was indeed lonely, absent a helper
fit for him, but still able to function in a limited capacity.
Richard Phillips makes this point in Masculine Mandate (p. 138) when he
My wife will tell you that her favorite worship services are those in
which new elders or deacons are ordained and installed. She always
beams when a crowd of men goes to the front to ordain new church
leaders by the laying on of hands in the apostolic fashion. Almost
without fail, she will say to me sometime during that day, “I love
seeing all those spiritual and godly men who lead our church. It
makes me feel like a woman, and it makes me feel safe in the
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 52
Women feel most like women when godly men lead in
2. “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and
became a transgressor.”153 The implication of this is had
Satan approached Adam in the garden, Adam may have said,
“No.” But Satan knew Eve’s God-designed dependence upon
Adam, so he accomplished the Fall by tempting her alone.
This teaches us that women need us to lead actively, not
passively. Men in the church must take the reins, grab the bull
by the horns, take initiative, and actively lead and oversee
things for the sake of female Christians. Do we love our
sisters in the Lord? How do we know if we love them? By our
leadership. Men who have relinquished leadership in the
church to the women do not love their Christian sisters.
However, male leadership in the church is not based upon
male perfection. If it were, then Jesus made a mistake in His
choosing of the 12 disciples: James and John were power-hungry,
using Jesus for the status they could get out of Him; Judas Iscariot
betrayed Him; Peter denied Him; and the other ten abandoned
Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter even played the
hypocrite and needed Paul to confront him face to face.154 If the
apostles, then, were imperfect men, elder and deacons are all the
more fallible and prone error. And though Christ has invested
authority in a plurality of qualified elders to serve His church, when
those elders contradict the Bible in their leadership, they no longer
possess the authority of Christ. In essence, the question always
before office-bearers is, “What would Jesus do?” or “How would
Christ minister to these hurting people? How would Jesus call
these people to repentance? How does God direct us to
shepherd this flock?”
We must embrace the most important part of a church-leader’s
task: he is a slave of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ owns His
church;155 He purchased her with His own, precious blood.156 The
church does not belong to any one nation, or to any one
denomination, or to any one pastor or group of elders no matter
1 Timothy 2:14.
1 Corinthians 6:20.
Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:19.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 53
how influential. The church is Christ’s. Jesus is the Chief
Shepherd,157 the Shepherd and Overseer of Christian souls,158 the
great Shepherd of the sheep,159 and the good Shepherd.160
Therefore everything an elder or deacon does for the Church must
be on behalf of Jesus Christ and for the glory of Christ.
This chapter is ordered as follows:
6. The Necessity of Church Leaders: Elders & Deacons
7. The Doctrine of Church Leaders
8. The Manner of Church Leaders: Shepherding
9. The Character of Church Leaders
10. The Duties of Church Leaders
The Necessity of Church Leaders: Elders &
Almost to a head, the churches of the Protestant Reformation
agreed on elder rule, pastoral accountability, and shepherding as
vital to governing God’s people.
When the Reformation from popery occurred, it is at once
wonderful and edifying to observe with what almost entire
unanimity the leaders in that glorious enterprise concurred in
proclaiming and sustaining Presbyterian principles.
The Bible is so clear on the necessity of proper leadership,
that to miss it is to miss a prominent aspect of God’s grace to His
people. Church government is neither a democracy nor a
dictatorship, but a God-designed government that:
1. Honors God’s Word as the revealed law and mind of our
2. Accounts for depravity in our nature and action.
3. Seeks to reinforce by checks and balances the limitation of
4. Benefits the church as a corporate whole and the members
thereof for sustained ministry (Eph. 4:11-13).
1 Peter 5:4.
1 Peter 2:25.
Samuel Miller, Presbyterianism: The Truly Primitive and Apostolic Church.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 54
5. Seeks to give glory and honor to Christ, the Head and King
of the church, and not to the human agents.
There is one misconception of church government needing
address. It is that church government “is inherently inimical to
loving pastoral care and sensitivity.”163 Church government is
perceived as impersonal and repressive, nothing more than a
tyrannical machine fueled by policies made by men not subject to
the policies. But the Bible views church government as a loving
way to nurture Christian spirituality. It is true that in most
governments, the leaders lord authority over the people,164 but in
God’s church the greatest leaders are those who slave for the
people165 and equip the saints for ministry.166
The Office of Deacon
The origin of the office of deacon is Acts 6:1-6. So great was the
growth of the Jerusalem church that the Apostles could not keep
up with the daily distribution of goods to the needy (widows,
orphans). Upon hearing a complaint, the Apostles immediately
prioritized, refusing to give up their work of prayer and preaching.
Seven men, full of the Spirit, were chosen to serve tables. These
seven are commonly referred to as the first deacons.
The word deacon itself is derived from, meaning,
“servant.” The office of deacon, then, is one of servanthood.
Deacons steward the physical and financial resources of the
church, and minister to the poor and destitute in the surrounding
community. Deacons keep a “pulse” on each member’s physical
and financial well-being, always connecting those with plenty of
resources (time, money, possessions, expertise) with those in
need of resources.
The Office of Elder
God has always ruled His people with elders. Beginning in the
Old Testament167 and continuing in the New Testament, 168 elders
These are taken directly from Paradigms in Polity: Classic Readings in
Reformed and Presbyterian Church Government, p. 25.
Ibid., p. 30.
Exodus 24:1; 24:14; Leviticus 4:15; 9:1; Numbers 11:16-30; Deuteronomy
21:1-6; 22:15-18; 25:7-9; Joshua 8:10; Judges 11:5-11.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 55
are leaders on behalf of the congregation. Paul and Barnabas
appointed elders in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,169 and Paul
instructed Titus to appoint elders in every town on the island of
Crete.170 Though there is vigorous debate about distinctions
within the eldership since the NT uses two words to denote
elders—171 (“overseer”) and 172 (“elder” or
“presbyter”)—the words are used interchangeably and denote one
office with one overarching task: the spiritual oversight of a
congregation. Elders oversee people.
It is of utmost importance that elders be godly men. Why is
godliness so important? Because Christians seldom become
more godly than their leaders. John MacArthur explains:
Whatever the leaders are, the people become. As Hosea said,
“Like people, like priest (4:9). Jesus said, “Everyone, after he
has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
Biblical history demonstrates that people will seldom rise above
the spiritual level of their leadership.
The goals, then, of our look at shepherding, qualifications, and
house visitation are to promote godliness and to equip each of us
with tools for self-examination and growth in Christ.
Reformation polity distinguishes between two kinds of elders:
ruling elders and teaching elders.174 Ruling elders were leaders on
behalf of the congregation in the early church. These were
examples to the flock, charged with rebuking offenders, praying
for the sick,175 visiting the people, and keeping spiritual tabs on
each sheep. Teaching elders have all the gifts and graces of
ruling elders, and in addition have been gifted, trained, and called
by the church to make their living by preaching and teaching the
Acts 11:30; 20:17.
Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1, 2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25.
Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4; 20:17; 21:18; 1 Timothy 5:17,
19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1, 5; 2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1.
Quoted from Alexander Strauch, Biblical Eldership, p. 70.
In some traditions, the ruling elders are called “elders” and the teaching
elders “pastors” or “ministers.”
1 Timothy 5:17-18.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 56
The Doctrine of Church Leaders
Teach what accords with healthy doctrine.
Healthy doctrine is necessary to godliness and growth. Any
church leader who avoids doctrinal issues is wimpish, and clearly
not fit for the office of elder or deacon. God calls us to teach good
doctrine, which assumes we are interested in it, study it, and
maintain a relatively good handle on major doctrinal issues. The
reason we waited so long to address doctrine is unless we learn to
handle ourselves in a Christ-like manner, we will not handle
doctrine in a Christ-like manner.
Regarding doctrinal beliefs, some churches have not carefully
thought through their beliefs, others do not have many doctrinal
beliefs, and still others hide their beliefs from public view to avoid
scrutiny. But every church has doctrinal beliefs. If a church says,
“We have no creed but Christ” or “We believe the Bible”, then ask
them (kindly) what they believe about the Trinity, God’s
sovereignty, free will, creation, mankind, sin and judgment, Jesus
as mediator, justification, sanctification, faith, repentance, good
works, Christian liberty, marriage and divorce, the church, baptism
and the Lord’s Supper, the resurrection of the dead, or the
gospel—all of which are taught in the Bible. The answers are their
doctrinal beliefs, and prove they do have a creed other than
Christ—they just neglected to write it down. Regarding belief
about the Bible, all Christian churches believe the Bible
authoritative, so the question needing an answer is not “Do you
believe what the Bible teaches on certain topics?”, but “What do
you believe the Bible teaches on certain topics?”
Gospel of Grace Church is a confessional church, which
means our doctrinal beliefs are written down and not subject to the
whims of church members and leaders. We believe it important to
think through biblical teachings carefully; we believe the Bible
teaches us many things necessary for our salvation and useful for
a God-glorifying life; and we believe the most godly, humble
approach (not that we are godly or humble) to theology is
publicizing our beliefs for all to see, compare with Scripture, and
scrutinize if necessary.
Therefore, Gospel of Grace Church publicizes its conviction
that the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) is a reliable
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 57
summary of biblical teaching. The WCF summarizes what the
Bible teaches on the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), God’s
sovereignty, free will, creation, mankind, sin and judgment, Jesus
as mediator, justification, sanctification, faith, repentance, good
works, Christian liberty, marriage and divorce, the church, baptism
and the Lord’s Supper, the resurrection of the dead, the gospel,
and many other topics. This is not to say we equate the
confession with Scripture. The Bible alone is the Word of God—
living, active, and powerful;177 eternal;178 gospel-centered;179 and
God-breathed.180 The WCF, on the other hand, is neither alive nor
powerful, is transitory and mutable, and is man-made. The Bible
alone has original authority; the confession has derivative
authority—it is useful only insofar as it accurately teaches the
Bible. This is only to say we agree with the theological
perspective of godly men who, in the 1640’s, gathered together
and summarized what the Bible teaches on certain topics.
Here is a brief historical background to the WCF. The
Westminster Assembly produced documents on doctrine, church
government, and worship that have largely defined
Presbyterianism down to this day. These documents include a
Confession of Faith (1646), a Larger Catechism (1647), and a
Shorter Catechism (1647), often collectively called “The
Westminster Standards.” By order of the English “Long
Parliament” (under the control of Presbyterian Puritans) these
documents were drafted as a revision of the Thirty-Nine Articles of
the Church of England by 151 persons appointed by Parliament:
10 land owners (Lords), 20 commoners (tradesman), and 121
ministers (divines), including Episcopalians, Presbyterians,
Independents, and Erastians181 in fair proportion. Their task was
to advise Parliament on how to bring the Church of England into
greater conformity with the Church of Scotland and the
Continental Reformed churches. The Assembly first met on July
1, 1643 at the Westminster Abbey in London, England. The
members conducted 1,163 meetings until February 22, 1649.
Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 2:23.
1 Peter 2:25.
2 Timothy 3:16.
Erastians were Reformers who favored any church discipline be carried out
with the approval of the state.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 58
Since that time, numerous Presbyterian bodies have been formed
around the world, and they have always been constituted, to some
degree, on the basis of the Westminster Standards.
We do not ask that you agree with our theology, but only that
you search the Scriptures, as the Bereans,182 to find out whether
these things are true. We hope and pray that as you study the
Scriptures with us, you will be enriched in mind and heart, and will
grow in appreciation for our Triune God, His redeeming work on
our behalf, and the church of our Lord Jesus Christ—His body and
If, in the future, you be called to serve as an elder or deacon in
Gospel of Grace Church, you will be asked the following question
(the 3rd of 7) at your ordination and installation:
Do you accept the doctrines of this Church, contained in the
Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, as founded on
the Word of God and as the expression of your own faith and do
you resolve to adhere thereto?
Disagreeing with a few points need not discourage you, since
nearly every elder/deacon disagrees with various aspects of the
WCF. These disagreements are called “exceptions.” As we study
the WCF, wrestle with the doctrines and see if they are supported
in Scripture. Note to yourself any significant doctrines with which
you disagree, and should you be called upon to serve as an elder
or deacon, make known to the session (elders) your exceptions. If
the exceptions are too much at variance with the Westminster
standards, you will be ineligible for the office of elder or deacon,
and be encouraged to re-consider your doctrinal position in light of
Scripture. However, you must never go against conscience. An
acceptable exception, frequently taken, is the Christian Sabbath 184
(most find the Westminster view too rigorous and legalistic).
Some examples of unacceptable exceptions are:
1. Infant Baptism. Gospel of Grace Church believes
covenant theology the best explanation of Scripture, and
so baptizes the children of believers, bringing these
ARPC, Form of Government, p. 202
For the view, see The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21
(especially paragraph 8); The Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A’s 115-121;
and The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A’s 57-62.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 59
children into the visible church. Elders and deacons, then,
out of good conscience, must affirm their belief in the
baptism of children of believers.
2. Speaking in tongues. Gospel of Grace Church is not a
continuationist church. We believe that speaking in
tongues and their proper interpretation were gifts given to
some early churches (i.e. Corinth) to lead new Christians in
the absence of the New Testament. But once the New
Testament circulated throughout the churches, God
phased out speaking in tongues because they were no
longer needed to guide His people—they now had the
complete Word of God (the Bible). We do not believe that
the tongues spoken in many of today’s churches are of the
same essence as the God-bestowed tongue-speech and
interpretation which took place in some early churches.
The tongues spoken and interpreted in Acts 2 and in
Corinth were given to untrained, uncoerced men and
women by God. Tongues spoken and interpreted by those
trained or by those coerced into believing there is some
sort of second blessing or second baptism of the Holy
Spirit, are an invention of man, not a gift from God, and are
often nothing more than a form of Christian elitism.
Christianity is not a club of insiders and outsiders. Each
individual Christian is sealed with the Holy Spirit
(Ephesians 1:13); is strengthened with the Spirit
(Ephesians 3:16); prays in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18; Jude
20); and has received the Spirit of adoption as sons—
children of God (Romans 8:14-17).
As we read through the WCF in Modern English, one
paragraph at a time, it is important we capture the heartbeat of
what is said. Before we can make sense of the words and
phrases, we must understand the overall point, so as with reading
any carefully written document, a basic knowledge of sentence
structure will prove highly useful. Only after the subject and verb
are ascertained can we make sense of the rest of the phrases.
So, let’s re-resurrect 7th grade grammar (please contain your
excitement), and dive in.185
The time needed to work through The Westminster Confession of Faith will
depend upon the familiarity which each man has with Reformed doctrine. It can
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 60
The Manner of Church Leaders: Shepherding
Prior to unfolding the qualifications of church leadership in the
Pastoral Epistles, we direct attention to the work of shepherding.
Shepherding is not the only directive for church leadership, but is
arguably the most prominent. Therefore, church leaders need a
clear understanding of a shepherd’s heart and work in order to
lead in a God-glorifying, Christ-exalting manner. Here is a brief
examination of biblical teaching on shepherds, sheep, and how
Shepherds will love sheep only as much as they love
‘Simon…do you love me more than these?’ He said to him,
‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my
lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do
you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love
you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third
time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved
because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he
said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love
you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’
Jesus uses Peter’s denial to make an important point: no one can
feed Jesus’ lambs unless he loves Jesus deeply. A shepherd who
loves not Jesus cannot love Jesus sheep as He would have them
loved. How can we tell if we are shepherding the Christian souls
entrusted to our care? By our love for Jesus. If we do not love
Jesus Christ more than the sheep, then, oddly enough, we are
incapable of loving the sheep with Christ-like love.
Sheep are directionally challenged
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every
one—to his own way.
Doctrinally and morally, sheep are susceptible to losing their way.
It is not so much that they desire becoming lost, but that they do
not perceive the consequences of bad theological and/or moral
take anywhere from 3 hours to 30 hours, so wisdom should be exercised to
discern the appropriate pace.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 61
decisions. On account of this, the shepherd is one who must keep
the big picture of consequences in mind when it comes to
shepherding directionally-challenged sheep. The shepherd must
listen carefully to his sheep, observe their direction, and foresee
some of the pitfalls that may occur should their sheep continue in
the way of danger. Another way of saying this is shepherds must
be thankful for sheep that remain in the middle of the flock, but
they must keep a close eye on the sheep which wander on the
fringes. It is okay to wander on the fringes, so long as forward
progress is made, but the wise shepherd knows the difference
between a “fringe” sheep and a “lost” sheep. Fringe sheep need
no one to chase after them; when they hear the shepherd’s loving
voice they steer in his direction. Lost sheep no longer hear or
listen to the shepherd’s voice; they need him to physically rescue
them from danger. When fringe sheep hear the call to repent, to
turn around, and to head in the right direction they do so. When
“lost” sheep hear that same call, they either pretend they did not
hear it, or they imagine the call directed to someone else. These
sheep need a more thorough rescuing. They need the shepherd
to do more than call to them like he calls to the rest of the flock;
they need the shepherd to individualize a rescue mission which
may involve home visits, counseling sessions, or other forms of
Sheep are easily victimized
When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,
because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a
Jesus was cut-to-the-gut for the sheep because they were
harassed, distressed, and troubled to the point of weariness—they
were dejected and helpless. The scene depicts sheep so badly
troubled that they thrust themselves to the ground in despair, no
longer able to bear the continual harassment and stress. Sheep
cannot defend themselves by tunneling, running, kicking, biting,
clawing, or retaliating in any way. When predators attack, the
sheep are easy prey. The Lord could have used another analogy
for His people, but He used sheep because they are helpless
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 62
The implication for shepherds is they must guard their sheep
from bad theology, from sinful habits, and from the wolves that
arise both from within and without the flock.
Sheep know their shepherd’s voice, and his voice
alone they trust
The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name
and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he
goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his
voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him,
for they do not know the voice of strangers.
Sheep that are out to pasture will come running at the voice of
their shepherd, but will remain aloof at the voice of an impostor.
Sheep are like skeptical people: because they are weak and
vulnerable, they will not entrust themselves to someone who has
not first proven himself to be compassionate, loving, self-
sacrificial, and more considerate of others than himself. The
impostor can yell, scream, and carry-on with an ear-piercing tirade
for a long time, but this will only drive the sheep further away.
When their loving shepherd who has proven himself calls to them,
they eagerly obey.
Sheep will follow their shepherd even to their peril
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Sheep will follow their shepherd to green pastures and still waters,
and if the shepherd leads them to a dangerous place where there
is no food and no water, they will follow and perish at his will. So
to speak, if a shepherd walks off a cliff and calls his sheep to
follow after him, they too will walk off the cliff, following his
Sheep under the care of a loving shepherd consider
themselves safe, secure, sheltered, and protected. They fancy
themselves almost invincible when their shepherd is near. Once
they have transferred their trust to a shepherd, they follow him
wherever he takes them. Shepherds, then, are careful where they
lead, always considering whether their leadership is fruitful and
beneficial to the whole flock.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 63
Sheep cannot be driven or prodded like cattle; they
follow where they are led.
The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name
and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he
goes before them, and the sheep follow him.
Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising
oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would
have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering
over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:2-3
Sheep need leaders who lead by example, not leaders who lead
by verbal instruction only. Sheep are not successful
entrepreneurs needing someone to send them out with an open-
ended goal; they need someone to go before them and show the
This is not to say sheep are unwilling, hesitant, or lazy. This is
only to say that sheep will gladly follow when their shepherd
initiates a direction. Sheep enjoy the comfort of knowing they are
not responsible for deciding which path is best; they leave that to
their shepherd. Sheep should not have to forge new pathways.
They are not good at it. If a shepherd wants his flock to try a new
pasture, it will not work to command the sheep to walk to the
pasture. He will have to go ahead of them and lead them to it.
Shepherds are to be examples to the flock, which assumes
that they are among or with the flock they serve. An aloof elder is
not an elder. Far from stipulating a personality trait (outgoing,
extroverted), Peter says that men who shepherd are not the
loudest, the most vocal, or even the most knowledgeable, but
those who live with the sheep. A shepherd leads sheep not like a
drill sergeant—barking orders and intimidating inferiors unto
obedience—but like Jesus who left heaven not to yell and scream
at us, but to live among us as an example.
Some implications might be that if a shepherd wants to
evangelize a neighborhood, he must be the first to demonstrate it.
It will not do to lay guilt-trips on the sheep and then stay home
expecting them to do the work you are unwilling to lead them in.
For the most part, sheep will gladly pitch in, but the shepherd
needs to show them the way. He must provide them with a
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 64
method and a strategy. The shepherd who tries to move his
sheep by loading their backs with burdens of guilt, while unwilling
to carry those same burdens himself, is “driving” his sheep rather
than “leading” them. Godly leaders in the church are shepherds,
not ranchers. In the Wild West cowboys go on cattle-drives; in the
church office-bearers go on sheep-leads. Another implication is
that elders cannot shepherd a flock by phone, email, or Skype.
Or, put another way, examples must be observed to be followed.
Sheep look not only to godly words for guidance, but equally so to
godly lives for guidance.186
Shepherds must love their sheep more than
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a
hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep,
sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees…He flees
because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves!
Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you
clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but
you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not
strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have
not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost
you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have
This should go without saying, but shepherds must love their
sheep. More than that, shepherds must be willing to sacrifice
themselves for their sheep. What kind of sacrifice might be
required of shepherds? The sacrifice of reputation, the sacrifice of
time, the sacrifice of prayer, the sacrifice of learning for the benefit
of teaching sheep, the sacrifice of learning to care about the
sheep, the sacrifice of longer meetings when a sheep is hurting,
1 Timothy 4:16: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.
Persist in this, for by so doing you wills save both yourself and your hearers.”
2 Thessalonians 3:7-9: “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate
us, because we were not idle when we were with you…to give you in
ourselves an example to imitate.” Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your
leaders…Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 65
the sacrifice of being grieved by a straying sheep, the sacrifice of
being inconvenienced by an uncourteous sheep, etc.
It is common for shepherds to exploit the sheep like Israel’s
shepherds did in Ezekiel 34. The shepherds of Ezekiel 34 used
the sheep for their benefit; thus, the sheep were a means for the
shepherds’ gain. The shepherds ate seven-course meals with
cheesecake desert while the sheep stood in a barren pasture
drooling; when the shepherds were too far out of town for Pizza
Hut to deliver, they ate the fat sheep, and when Sears ran no
sales on Carhartt clothing, they sheered the sheep for wool
clothing. When the weak sheep came to the shepherds, they
gave them a Gold’s Gym weight set and commanded them to
work-out until they could bench 350#; when the injured came to
them they chewed them out for demanding too much of their time;
and when the straying sheep wandered off, they were too lazy to
What do these kinds of shepherds look like in today’s church?
These abusive shepherds are the office-bearers who want only
the cream-of-the-crop in their churches, and if someone doesn’t
come into the church as a ready-made fit for the congregation,
they are put on the back burner. These shepherds force the
congregation to work at building the church so that the shepherds
can brag about ministry success. These shepherds demand that
the congregation put more in the collection plate so that they can
receive bigger paychecks and live more extravagantly. These
shepherds help only those sheep that can help themselves. If a
sheep demands too much time, they would rather ignore the
sheep or “overnight-it” to another flock; if a sheep suffers from a
recurring, debilitating sin, they remain unsympathetic. And, the
worst of all, if a sheep strays down “Unbelief Boulevard” or
“Backsliding Avenue”, they don’t run after them, pray for them, or
weep for them. They do the opposite—they rejoice that the
straying sheep has finally strayed into a wolf’s pastureland.
Not to sound cynical, but there are many shepherds who
shepherd sheep like insurance companies today insure people. If
someone has always been healthy, is currently healthy, promises
to remain healthy, and has no family history of tonsillitis, the
seasonal flu, the common cold, canker sores, earaches, gray hair,
loss of hearing after 80, wrinkly skin after 90, or sore muscles after
exercise, then they are insurable. Otherwise the answer from the
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 66
insurance company is, “You’re too big a risk; go elsewhere.” So
too with some shepherds and their churches. They shepherd
those sheep only that have a Christian history, are currently low-
maintenance Christians, promise to remain low-maintenance
Christians, have no inclinations toward sin, and have
documentation which proves they have been sin-free for at least
10 years. Such shepherding is not shepherding; it is either
laziness fueled by elitism, or elitism fueled by laziness.
Shepherds must know their sheep
The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name
and leads them out.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them.
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did
not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was
profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house,
testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God
and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
This point needs no belaboring. If shepherds do not know their
sheep, they do not know what they can handle, the do not know
their needs, and they are unable to assist them in difficulties. A
good shepherd keeps a “pulse” on the health and well-being of his
sheep. When that pulse beats irregularly, the doctor-shepherd
who knows his patient-sheep can help much more effectively than
an ignorant shepherd who shows up only when things have
reached emergency levels. Good shepherds walk with and live
among their sheep. They either know the struggles of their sheep
by experience, or they learn about their sheep’s struggles by
getting to know them.
Shepherds seek-out sheep
My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains
and on ever high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face
of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 67
For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my
sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock
when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I
seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where
they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick
darkness…I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed.
The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Lazy shepherds operate on a “Come to me” basis. Good
shepherds go to the sheep. It is one thing for shepherds to tell
people that their door is always open and their phone is always
on. This is not bad in and of itself. But it is quite another for
shepherds to only make themselves available for the sheep.
Sheep need to be sought-out, they need to be re-assured that the
shepherd loves them enough to be proactive in his care for them.
Sheep need more than a “Call me if you have any problems.”
They need a “Let’s do lunch at this time and place” and a
shepherd who approaches them to talk with them and express an
interest in their lives. Simply put, there are plenty of sheep happy
to talk about their life struggles and strayings, but they are just as
happy to remain silent about them too. Every shepherd who
knows himself knows that no sheep is without struggles. Thus,
the good shepherd is an active shepherd, not prying into the lives
of his sheep, but living, sharing, and talking with his sheep. Most
sheep will gladly communicate their needs when they see a loving
shepherd seeking to get to know them for who they are.
Shepherds who get to know sheep for the purpose of condemning
the sheep are no shepherds but wolves. Sheep have consciences
which already condemn them. Good shepherds get to know their
sheep so that they can pray for them, encourage them,
sympathize with them, and lend them a helping hand when they
are stuck in a muddy pasture.
It is required of shepherds that they serve their
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles
lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 68
them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be
great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be
first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man
came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a
ransom for many.
If you have known or you are one of those husbands who
constantly says to his wife, “I am your head, you must submit to
me,” then you understand well the abuse of authority. If a
husband has to constantly remind his wife that he is her authority,
then something is wrong. It could be that she is anti-authoritarian
and adamantly unsubmissive—such women do exist. But in many
cases the problem in this kind of marriage is not the woman’s
submissiveness, nor is it that the man has authority over the
woman; rather, it is the man’s use of authority.
Christian authority is a call to die, to surrender oneself, to
crucify self-centeredness, and to become the slave of all. Slaves
in the Roman world were the bottom-feeders in a society where
food floated. They were scum, garbage, and less-than human.
They did the menial tasks which nobody else wanted to do; they
were un-thanked, unappreciated, unloved, and abused.
In the ancient world there was no one lower than a slave; the
slave’s whole life is lived in service for which he can claim
neither credit nor reward. Jesus could scarcely use a more
graphic term to bring out the lowliness his people must seek. It
is in lowly service that Christians find their true fulfillment. They
follow a Master who took the form of a servant and lived all his
earthly days in humble obscurity. The way forward for them is in
humility and lowliness. To set one’s heart on eminence is to lose
the heart of the Christian way. This does not, of course, mean
that among the followers of Christ there are to be no leaders,
none in high places. It means that those who take the lead
among them are to be humble, people seeking not personal
success but the opportunity of doing lowly service.
I boil all of this down to one statement: sheep can tell who their
shepherds are by sacrificial service. Sheep don’t need someone
to make them follow good shepherds; they want to follow good
shepherds! Good shepherds rarely, if ever, have to tell sheep to
Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew (PNTC), p. 512.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 69
submit to authority. Sheep will gladly submit to shepherds who
use their authority to serve. Conversely, sheep will flee from
shepherds who use their authority for personal gain at the
expense of the sheep. Shepherds who govern their sheep, as if
from a throne, shouting, “Submit! We have the authority of
Christ!” are no different than the Sons of Zebedee whom Jesus
rebuked because they wanted to sit next to Jesus’ throne rather
than scoop the manure of God’s people. Even Jesus Himself said
very little about His office; He didn’t need to say anything. His
becoming a slave to our sin and a servant of all proved that He
was the Christ of God. Do you want to serve God as an elder or
deacon or Christian? This will be evident by your willingness to
enslave yourself to the needs of God’s people.
Another way of saying this is that sheep will make sure you
are their shepherd! No shepherd can just waltz on the scene and
assume the leadership of sheep. The sheep will run. Shepherds
must prove themselves to the sheep through service, and once
they have proved themselves, the sheep will follow them without
even being told to follow! They will follow voluntarily—no
To illustrate, think of the best leaders you know. What makes
them great? They do not bind or compel people to follow. Great
leaders convince people to follow them by their competence, their
service, their sacrifice, and their other-centeredness. Even more
so is this the case in God’s church, a people group whose Leader
laid down His very life.
The Character of Church Leaders
1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 are denoted, “Qualifications for
elders and deacons.” And rightly so. But if our perspective is on
the qualifications themselves, then one of two things will happen:
we will become either infinitely pompous and proud, or dejected
and despairing. There is only one way to avoid these non-
Christian responses. The way is to acknowledge there has only
and ever been one perfect man—the Lord Jesus Christ. That
leaves us out in the cold of imperfection. And because we believe
that sanctification is a gift of God’s free grace, there is not a single
thing any one of us can do to speed up our conformity to Christ.
Thus, elders and deacons are nothing more than ordinary men
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 70
who have received a gracious gift of genuine godliness. So, do
not crush yourself if you have not these traits. Instead, pray that
“according to the riches of His glory, God may grant you to be
strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”188 And if God
has graced your life with the gift of godliness, then do not be
puffed up, for “What do you have that you did not receive? If then
you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”189
God gave it to you freely, not because you were more worthy than
another brother, but according to His unmerited mercy.
The Bible spends almost no time dictating office-bearer
methods, but a great deal of time spelling out office-bearer
character. Why? Because those men whose lives reflect to some
degree the character described will carry out the duties of the
office in a godly manner. Simply put, behavior will unfold
according to character, or, godly character gives birth to godly
behavior. For example, one character trait of an elder/deacon is
managing his own household well. Notice 1 Timothy 3 does not
say, “And elder must regularly attend worship every Sunday, read
the Bible, pray with his family, and discipline his children.” Why
not? Because a man who orders his own household well makes
these things a priority. Again, one character trait of an
elder/deacon is being “a one-woman man.” Why does the Bible
not say, “Elders and deacons must not look at pornography, must
not look at a woman lustfully, must not flirt with other women, and
must make it well-known to any interested ladies that he is happily
married”? Because a man with the character of a one-woman-
man will make these things a priority.
One more item. The only major difference between an elder
and a deacon is the ability to teach.190 So the following look at 1
Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 assumes both elders and deacons
One Who Aspires Patiently
1 Corinthians 4:7.
This is why Paul writes, “Deacons likewise must be…”190 and “And let
deacons also be tested first…”190 He writes this way because deacons,
exactly like the elders, must possess the same character traits stipulated for
the elders, excepting “able to teach.”
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 71
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of
overseer, he desires a noble task.
1 Timothy 3:1
The verb for aspiring191 means literally to stretch out toward or
reach out one’s hand for. Here we differentiate between two kinds
of aspiring: the kind which is ambitious, aggressive, anxious,
forceful, competitive, and pushy and the one which is patient,
restrainedly-eager, and desires to be put to work in due time as
determined by the church. The one desires to use their gifts for
their own self-centered ends and glory; the other desires to use
their gifts for the good of others and God’s glory.
Paul says the task of an elder is good, not because the elder is
so gifted as to ensure that all he does is good, but because the
task of caring for the church of God is in and of itself a good task.
Advancing God’s kingdom on earth through the godly shepherding
of His people is a task which God declares good.
A careful distinction must be made between desiring a noble
office and desiring a noble task. The former suggests prestige,
status, and rank, while the latter connotes assignment,
undertaking, mission, and duty. Simply put, the man who desires
to have his name written on a bulletin or church website under the
heading, “Church Leadership” so that people will marvel at or
acclaim him is not aspiring for the right reasons. The office of
elder is about working, tasking, and laboring, not acclamation,
applause, or approval. Probably everyone in the church desires
more recognition for their gifts; the office of elder is not the place
for fulfillment of that desire. The office of elder is the place for
men who desire to use their gifts, not be recognized, acclaimed, or
even praised for their gifts.
Leadership in the church—and I’m speaking of every facet of
spiritual leadership, not just the pastor’s role—is not a mantle of
status to be conferred on the church’s aristocracy. It isn’t earned
by seniority, purchased with money, or inherited through family
ties. It doesn’t necessarily fall to those who are successful in
business or finance. It isn’t doled out on the basis of intelligence
or talent. Its requirements are faultless character, spiritual
maturity, and a willingness to serve humbly.
Cf. Hebrews 11:16.
John MacArthur, The Master’s Plan for the Church.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 72
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach.
1 Timothy 3:2
If anyone is above reproach…An overseer, as God’s steward,
must be above reproach.
The word “Therefore” means that because the nature of the work
itself is good, the man who does this work must be “good” in the
sense of approved by God. The man must fit the job description.
Just as a corporation would not hire an unorganized slouch to be
its CEO, and just as a family would not hire an irresponsible,
pimply-faced, party-animal teenage boy to nanny its children, so
too, God will not have just anyone with skin on their nose to rule
In context, “above reproach” is probably a broad heading for
all that follows. In itself, the word means inviolable, unassailable,
and blameless—literally, one whose moral conduct cannot be
attacked by either Christians or non-Christians. This is important
because the reputation of the church is intimately interlaced with
the reputation of her leadership. If church leadership is so
scandalous as to be open to legitimate attack and corresponding
shame, then the gospel of Jesus Christ undergoes that same
attack and shame. In other words, the integrity of the messenger
plays a part in propagating a message. Mormonism’s big stain is
the immoral life of its founder, Joseph Smith. Any religious cult
which does not conform itself and its members to acceptable
moral standards will not be able to propagate its message without
coercion or deceit. Since Christianity is a religion which lives and
dies on the message itself, it is of the utmost importance that
every hindrance be removed which may cause people to question
the message itself. Where church leadership is publicly
scandalous, the church’s witness is publicly hindered.
The Husband of One Wife
An overseer must be…the husband of one wife.
1 Timothy 3:2
If anyone is…the husband of one wife.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 73
The text reads literally, “Of one woman man” or “Of one wife
husband.” The following is a summary of the primary views:
1. Elders must have one wife only, polygamy is not allowed. This
is likely part of Paul’s point as polygamy in 1st century Rome
2. Elders must be married, they cannot be single. This flatly
contradicts Paul’s instructions about the advantages of
singleness in 1 Cor. 7. Also, Paul was single; surely he did not
consider himself disqualified.
3. Elders must have one marriage partner for life. If a man is re-
married, then he is automatically disqualified. This is probably
the second-most held position on this verse, but this would be
an odd point to make since there is nothing wrong with a
widower remarrying. Also, on the grounds of abandonment
and adultery, a marriage can be legitimately broken through
divorce. Thus, if Paul means to say in this verse that men who
have remarried cannot be elders, many godly men whose
previous wives died, left them voluntarily for no reason, or
committed adultery could not be elders. That is borderline
absurd. Also, if Paul meant that a divorced man could never
be an elder, he would have said, “An overseer must be…not a
4. Elders must be devoted to their wives if they are married.
Elders must be absolutely committed to their wives. This is
Paul’s primary point.
Divorce is not inconsequential to office. Divorce indicates an
inability to manage a household well, and someone who has been
recently divorced should probably prove godly stewardship of his
single or re-married life before serving as an elder. Divorce is not
the unpardonable sin and does not disqualify a man automatically,
but it should be discussed, and a re-married man should give
ample evidence of maturity in his current marriage before
becoming a church leader.
The crying need of an elder is that he finds his delight in his
wife. An elder is not someone who needs to be married, but if he
is, he must be a one woman man in the sense of dedicated to his
wife only. This is more than a negative command not to lust after
other women; this is a positive command to lust after our wives.
An elder must not be flirtatious, enticing, alluring, or inviting to
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 74
women other than his wife. He is to find his sexual, emotional,
and spiritual satisfaction in his wife alone. Darrin Patrick explains:
To be qualified [as an elder], a man must be exclusively devoted
to his wife, having a deep emotional, social, and sexual
connection to her. Practically, this means that a pastor’s
marriage must be sound. More than that, it seems to indicate
that a lack of emotional or physical intimacy in a marriage could
keep a pastor from ministry. In other words, it suggests that an
unsatisfying sex life could keep a man from being a qualified
pastor. Pastors are to take the lead in emotional, social, and
sexual connection with their wives. As in all qualifications, this
does not mean that the pastor, or his marriage, is perfect. It
means that the marriage is worth imitating. It means that other
single and married men look at how the pastor loves and serves
his wife as a model for their own devotion to their wife or future
This means pornography, extra-marital relationships (both sexual
and emotional), and even wonderings about what it would be like
with certain other women are off limits to the elder. It is not
required of an elder that he have the gift of singleness, but it is
required of him that he find fulfillment for his physical and
emotional needs in his wife and in no other. Let the elder enjoy
his wife sexually; let the elder be ravished with his wife in every
way; let the elder confess with Solomon:
Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand.
Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your
belly is a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies. Your two breasts
are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. Your neck is like an ivory
tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-
rabbim. Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, which looks
toward Damascus. Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your
flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses.
How beautiful and pleasant you are, O love one, with all your
delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are
like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its
fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the
scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best
Song of Solomon 7:1-9
Darrin Patrick, Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission, pp.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 75
No one who had not carefully studied his beloved wife could write
such endearing words about her. Study your wife; marvel at her
beauty; and delight in her emotionally, sexually, and relationally.
Sober-Minded & Disciplined
An overseer must be…sober-minded.
1 Timothy 3:2
He must be…disciplined.
This is a reference to soberness as it relates to alcohol, but since
Paul goes on to say, “Not a drunkard” it may rightly be assumed
that the soberness referred to by this word extends to the mind,
thus, “Sober-minded.” Some synonyms are level-headed and
The polar opposite of sober-minded is a man of extremes, a
drama-king, an ambulance chaser, and a man always out to be
spectacular, extraordinary, and noticeable for the sake of self.
This kind of life discourages the sheep, for most sheep are drab,
ordinary, and unnoticed, and enjoy serving God as such.
Sober-mindedness is a lifestyle which makes daily decisions in
light of the big picture.
Such a person lives deeply. His pleasures are not primarily
those of the senses, like the pleasures of a drunkard for
instance, but those of the soul. He is filled with spiritual and
moral earnestness. He is not given to excess (in the use of
wine, etc.), but moderate, well-balanced, calm, careful, steady,
and sane. This pertains to his physical, moral, and mental tastes
An overseer must be…self-controlled.
1 Timothy 3:2
He must be self-controlled.
Some antonyms are insolent, disrespectful, rude, and arrogant. A
self-controlled man is “not swayed by sudden impulses over which
William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, p. 122.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 76
he exercises no mastery”195 He says “No” to many desires, not
acquiescing to his desires until he has weighed them in wisdom’s
The Bible offers a vivid picture of a man who lacks self-control:
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left
In the ancient world a city’s walls were its primary defense. A
city’s walls could not prevent the enemy from attacking, but they
could prevent the enemy from entering. The walls of a city gave
its inhabitants peace, security, and worry-free sleep at night.
Likewise it is with a self-controlled man. He who has self-control
cannot prevent the enemy from knocking on his gate to pick a
fight, but he can prevent the enemy from entering and ransacking
his life. The point is this: the enemy will enter into our lives at our
weakest point. Where there are no walls of self-control, the
enemy can enter anywhere, anytime, and wreak as much sinful
chaos as he wants.
An overseer must be…respectable.
1 Timothy 3:2
God is not a God of confusion or chaos, but of peace and order.196
Therefore the church is one place where people should find
orderliness, tidiness, neatness, and stability in the leadership.
The ministry [office of elder & deacon] is no place for a man
whose life is a continual confusion of unaccomplished plans and
unorganized activities. Over the years I have seen many men
who had difficulty ministering effectively because they couldn’t
get their lives into meaningful order. They couldn’t concentrate
on a task or systematically set and accomplish goals. Such
disorder is a disqualification.
An overseer must be…hospitable.
1 Timothy 3:2
Ibid., p. 123.
1 Corinthians 14:33, 40.
John MacArthur, The Master’s Plan for the Church.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 77
He must be…hospitable.
The word “hospitable” encompasses two nouns: (friendly
affection) and (stranger, outsider, foreign invader). A
hospitable man has his heart open toward outsiders, always
watching out for the needy and destitute, and of a generous
disposition toward prisoners and the mistreated,198 and those
lacking food, shelter, or clothing. Being hospitable is not a
legalistic set of rules to be kept, but a merciful attitude toward
anyone in need. Jesus describes such an attitude:
When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends
or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also
invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a
feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you
will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be
repaid at the resurrection of the just.
What does this look like specifically? It might look like an elder
who spends time at the local pub reaching out to non-Christians
and answering their questions. Or such a man may befriend
society’s moral outcasts (the drunks, prostitutes, druggies,
thieves, and hot-heads) for the sake of winning them to Jesus
Christ. A hospitable man befriends sinners in such a way that
religious types (legalists) often attack his reputation and grumble
against him as they did to Jesus:
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look
at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear
Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying,
“This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Able to Teach Sound Doctrine & Refute Those Who
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 78
An overseer must be…able to teach.
1 Timothy 3:2
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he
may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to
rebuke those who contradict it.
This is one of the major differences between an elder and a
deacon. Some believe this a demand for eloquence, and while
eloquence may be a gift, it is not required. What is required is a
basic knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ability to
communicate that truth. And, like any other of these
qualifications, this one is a gift from God. Some have the ability to
teach and some do not. Some can explain things, and some
cannot. There is nothing wrong with lacking this ability, but there
would be something wrong with possessing the office of elder
while lacking this ability.
One of the most important aspects of teaching is listening. In
fact, he who cannot listen cannot teach. If teaching is taking
somebody from intellectual point A to intellectual point B, you must
first ascertain their point A before you can take them to B. And if
you wonder about your ability to teach, here is a simple test:
Teach the difference between sanctification and justification to a 4
year-old child; or explain to a child how the Bible is 100% man
written and 100% Holy Spirit written; or explain to a 5 year-old
how a Man with flesh and bones like ours hanging on a stick in the
dirt about 2000 years ago outside a famous city is the hinge upon
which heaven and hell turn. The essence of a good teacher is
taking hard concepts and making them easy to understand without
compromising the concept.
Teaching is not only the conveying of words, but also the living
of life. Some elders teach primarily through their living. They
literally ooze grace.
One more thing. It is necessary that an elder know how to
teach in a way that is non-offensive. It is one thing to assert a
truth; it is quite another to convey that same truth in a way that is
receivable by the person being informed. Calling someone an
idiot for their doctrinal stance, and then telling them “The Bible
says it, I believe it, and so you are the moron!” is not exactly the
ability to teach:
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 79
The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able
to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with
Not a Drunkard
An overseer must not be…a drunkard.
1 Timothy 3:3
He must not be…a drunkard.
Though this may appear self-explanatory, there are a few things to
keep in mind. First, drunkenness is more than “legal”
drunkenness as determined by traffic authorities, it is any
inordinate dependence upon alcohol. Second, remember Paul’s
injunction, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything
that causes your brother to stumble.”200 An elder should be one
who, for the sake of brothers and sisters, can and will abstain from
alcohol at a moment’s notice in order to prevent a brother or sister
from stumbling. Third, as Darrin Patrick explains, “Not a drunkard”
entails the deeper meaning, “no known idolatry (addiction).” He
This qualification seems to speak to the release valve of the
pastor. Working out is a legitimate way to blow off the pressure
of the day. Playing with your kids is an acceptable manner of
relieving stress. Making love to your wife is a biblically
encouraged way of distracting yourself from the difficulties of
ministry. Hitting the bottle is not…This qualification seems to be
speaking to addiction to substances generally and is not limited
to wine. As I coach and mentor church planters and pastors, I
am shocked at the number of them who are either addicted or
headed toward addiction to alcohol. Increasingly, the same is
true with prescription drugs. One pastor I know could not relax
without several beers after work and could not sleep without the
aid of a sleeping pill. Not only is this physically, mentally, and
emotionally dangerous, it is a sign of deep distrust in God’s
ability to meet our needs and provide our strength.
Not Violent but Gentle
2 Timothy 2:24-25.
Darrin Patrick, Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission, p.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 80
An overseer must not be…violent but gentle.
1 Timothy 3:3
He must not be…violent.
These characteristics mean not aggressive, pugnacious, or
belligerent, but instead peaceable, amicable, cordial, polite, and
appropriate. A gentle man does not have to have his own way—
he can yield to others for the sake of the whole congregation.
Not Quarrelsome, Arrogant, or Quick-Tempered
An overseer must not be…quarrelsome.
1 Timothy 3:3
He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered.
A quarrelsome man is word-warrior, one who goes around picking
fights over insignificant issues, or one who seeks out
disagreements and arguments. His life is one contentious
conversation after the next. A quarrelsome man is insecure and
bitter—having no self-esteem and certainly no security in Christ—
so he covers over his insecurity with arrogance and quick-
temperedness—quick denunciations of anyone who challenges
his opinions. Such a man cannot serve as an elder. He must
learn to control his temper with patience, to study the cross so his
self-confidence is leveled, and to use his mouth for edification that
his words may impart grace to those who hear.202
You can’t be a pastor if your “pastoral counseling” produces
more heat than light. In other words, you are not a qualified man
if you turn most discussions into arguments. There are men who
love nothing more than to “take the other side” and play “The
devil’s advocate.” This kind of behavior might make you a
successful seminary student, but it will disqualify you from being
An elder must abandon his self worth in order to find his worth in
Christ alone. When that happens, the quarreling ceases.
Not a Lover of Money or Greedy for Gain
Darrin Patrick, Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission, p.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 81
An overseer must not be…a lover of money.
1 Timothy 3:3
He must not be…greedy for gain.
Elders who love money and are greedy for gain will almost always
put wealth ahead of Jesus Christ and the church. And though
personal and church finances are part of an elder’s work, finances
should never be the consuming passion of the elder’s heart.
The author of Hebrews explains it this way:
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what
you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.
So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear;
what can man do to me?’
An elder is content with having the Lord, and does not rely upon
money to be his helper. In other words, this kind of man finds his
security, significance, and identity not in his money, but in Jesus
Christ, who says, in effect, “Though you be poor or rich, homeless
or mansioned, jobless or successful, I am with you. Your money
may leave you and forsake you, but I will never leave you nor
forsake you. Rest your heart in Me, and be satisfied with what
One Who Manages His Household Well (God’s
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity,
keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know
how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s
1 Timothy 3:3-4
An overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.
Each husband manages his home, but the issue for an elder is
whether he manages it well. A man may himself be godly, self-
controlled, self-disciplined, prayerful, and well-studied, but if he
manages his house poorly, he cannot be an elder. A good
manager understands the big picture of his duties, and within that
big picture wisely prioritizes all the details. An elder is such a
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 82
manager in his home. He grasps the big picture of a Christian
family, and orders the details of his family life accordingly. He
prioritizes well, distinguishing between what is important and what
is not, and keeping a careful tab on the well-being of each soul in
his home. If a man cannot manage well the small confines of his
own household, then he is not able to manage the larger arena of
One Whose Children Are Submissive with Dignity,
Faithful, & not Charged with Debauchery or
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity,
keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know
how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s
1 Timothy 3:3-4
If…his children are believers and not open to the charge of
debauchery or insubordination.
The children spoken of are under the authority of the father, and
likely his roof, and thus not of adult age. An elder’s children must
not be perfect, but must be submissive to his authority (attentive to
his voice, obedient), showing their father all reverence, dignity,
seriousness, and respectfulness. A man whose children
demonstrate faithfulness in obedience and submission to their
father is evidence of a man who, along with his wife, has
established a home of consistent love and discipline. A man
whose children notoriously militate against his authority in wild
rebellion, and whose children are persistently out of control, is
probably not able to nurture God’s children in godliness.
Not A Recent Convert
He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up
with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
1 Timothy 3:6
An elder must be a man of spiritual maturity. If he is not, he will
become puffed up when people look to him for spiritual advice.
An elder, then, like a deacon, must be a man who has been tested
and shown mature enough to handle souls with humility.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 83
Well Thought of by Outsiders
Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he
may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
1 Timothy 3:7
Please note this is the second time the devil is mentioned in two
verses. Satan hates the church with a passion, and he loves
nothing more than to tear open her belly through proud,
disgraceful leadership. The temptations of an elder multiply, your
weaknesses become more evident, and your struggles with sin
increase. This is not a bad thing in and of itself; it is just another
way of saying that the devil will multiply the armies opposed to you
and he himself will pull many more all-nighters on a coffee high in
order to plan your demise.
Being well thought of by outsiders is having a good reputation
among non-Christians. What do those with whom we work,
recreate, and live think of us? Our reputation in the community
should be a good one.
One Who Loves Good; Upright, Holy
He must be...a lover of good…upright, holy.
These traits refer to an elder’s view of Christian piety. An elder
who loves good will love the people he serves but not their sin.
“An overseer’s love for people is always to be correlated with a
love for what God wants people to be.”204 Regarding upright and
holy, an elder is one who has largely become that which God
desires we be, and so he is able to graciously help those
struggling in their Christian walk.
One Who Has Been Tested
And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons
if they prove themselves blameless.
1 Timothy 3:10
Elders and deacons must be tested in the sense of observed and
examined prior to ordination. It is never a good idea to install into
office those of questionable godliness. If there are questions, they
George W. Knight III, The New International Greek Testament
Commentary: The Pastoral Epistles, p. 292.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 84
should be addressed, dealt with, and decided upon before any
decision is made about fitness for office. No man may take the
honor of elder upon himself, but must be called by God and
acknowledged by the church as one qualified and approved for
the work.205 Moreover, a church should never be hasty to ordain
an untested elder, for by ordaining a man unfit for office we
participate in his sins.206
The Duties of Church Leaders
Men desiring to serve in church leadership must work. The
primary emphasis upon church leadership is neither status nor
rank, but servanthood and duty. Any elder or deacon entering
office with illusions of grandeur and prominence will quickly collide
with the stark reality that offices are work, demanding emotional,
spiritual, and physical sweat.
The Duties of Deacons
The assembly of deacons is called the diaconate. The following is
the stated purpose of the diaconate:
The diaconate shall be responsible for the congregation’s
ministry to those in material need or distress. It shall also
encourage practice of total stewardship among the members of
the congregation. It shall plan, in collaboration with the session,
the causes toward which the offerings of the congregation shall
be directed; devise effective methods for securing and receiving
these offerings; secure and receive special offerings as directed
by the session and the higher courts of the Church; and see that
all offerings are properly distributed. It shall have the care of the
general property of the congregation, both real and personal. In
matters requiring extraordinary expenditure for acquisition,
construction, or alteration of church property, consent of the
congregation is required.
The Duties of Elders
The following are the individual responsibilities of each elder:
It is the responsibility of ruling elders, both individually and
jointly, to guard and promote the spiritual welfare of the
1 Timothy 5:22.
The Standards of the ARPC, Form of Government, 7.B.1.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 85
congregation. They are required by their office to visit the
people, especially the sick, and pray with them, to comfort the
sorrowing, encourage the weak, guide the wayward and the
careless, and, in general, to discharge all other duties in
The assembly of elders is called the session. The duties of the
session primarily encompass the spiritual care and nurture of the
The following are sessional responsibilities quoted from the ARPC Form
of Government, 11.B.2:
In order to carry out its responsibility…the session has power:
a. To counsel with the members of the congregation and to inquire
into their Christian knowledge and conduct.
b. To admonish, rebuke, suspend, or exclude from the Sacrament
of the Lord’s Supper any member of the congregation found
delinquent, according to the Rules of Discipline.
c. To encourage parents who are communicant members to
present their children for the Sacrament of Baptism.
d. To receive applicants into communicant church membership
upon profession of faith in Jesus Christ, upon reaffirmation of
faith in Jesus Christ, or upon transfer of membership.
e. To grant the appropriate certificate of transfer for any member in
good standing upon proper request.
f. To instruct, examine, ordain, and install ruling elders and
deacons upon their election by the congregation.
g. To encourage the officers of the congregation to devote
themselves to their respective responsibilities.
h. To supervise the work of the diaconate and examine the records
of its proceedings.
i. To develop and supervise the church school and the educational
program of the congregation.
j. To employ and supervise the work of a director of Christian
k. To exercise, in accordance with the Directory for Worship,
authority over the time and place of the preachings of the Word
and the administration of the sacraments, and over all other
l. To assemble the people for worship in the absence of the pastor.
m. To direct the securing, receiving, and distributing of special
n. To devise and encourage suitable measures for the spiritual
advancement of the congregation and of the Church.
o. To observe and enforce the lawful injunctions of the higher
p. To select from among its ruling elders representatives to the
meetings of the Presbytery and the General Synod, but not to
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 86
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, [the
apostles] did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the
You yourselves know how I did not shrink from declaring to you
anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from
house to house.
What is house visitation?
In general, house visitation is a shepherding ministry of the
session in which the elders visit the members and families of the
church in their homes. One or two elders visit the home of a
church member or family to discuss the spiritual vitality of their
Christian life and the church.
House visitation is characterized by six principles:
1. It is biblical. Paul conducted his ministry in Ephesus by
teaching the believers “publicly and from house to house.”210
2. It is official. Elders visit homes as representatives of Christ.
They have been given the task of watching over the souls
entrusted to them as men who must give an account. Those
shepherded by them should make every effort to make an
elder’s work joyful, not grievous:
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.
instruct such representatives as to how they shall vote, but may
so instruct these representatives on a vote on a proposed plan of
Church union. These representatives shall make a report to their
session of the proceedings of the court.
q. To propose to the Presbytery such measures as may be of
common advantage to the whole Church.
r. To supervise, review, and control all organizations within the
congregation, and in its discretion to require stated reports.
s. To call a congregational meeting.
t. To exercise authority over the use of the church building and
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 87
3. It is pastoral. The elders are shepherds called to labor
underneath the Chief Shepherd of our souls.211 And since the
Chief Shepherd is deeply concerned for all the needs of His
sheep, the elders are deeply concerned for the physical,
mental, and spiritual well-being of each soul under their
care.212 All in all, elders come proclaiming the Lord’s
shepherding love,213 and assisting the repair of any ailments.
4. It is prayerful. Elders are called to pray for the people,214 and
the people should pray for their elders.215 Therefore the
relationship between elders and their parishioners should be
close enough that prayer requests are continually exchanged,
or at least we continually pray for the further indwelling of the
Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ in each other’s hearts.216
5. It is edifying. Elders should take Scripture’s mandate seriously
that we are to be “speaking the truth in love…what is good for
building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those
who hear.”217 House visitation gives elders and parishioners
the opportunity to express encouragements and concerns to
6. It is regular. Elders of Gospel of Grace Church are
encouraged to visit each house twice per year. This allows
them enough close contact to honor Paul’s injunction, “Pay
careful attention…to all the flock.”218
Goals of house visitation
1. To extend the care and supportive concern of the Church into
the homes of the membership.219
2. To provide a way to determine the precise needs of the
3. To allow the elders to assess the people’s reaction to the
preaching and teaching and all the other functions of the
1 Peter 2:25; 5:1-5.
Acts 6:4; James 5:16.
1 Tim. 2:1-2; Eph. 6:18-19.
Ephesians 4:15, 29.
2 Thessalonians 5:11-13.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 88
4. To encourage the believers in the church’s worship and the
means of grace (preaching, the sacraments, and prayer).
5. To establish meaningful relationships between the elders and
6. To promote the communion of the saints within the household
Guidelines for house visitation
1. Their homes are not our homes. The husband does not cease
to be the head of his home when we walk through the door.
Therefore act like a guest, not an owner, for a guest is what
2. Avoid two extremes when visiting. The one extreme is to talk
about the weather, politics, the Chiefs and Cardinals, the
length of their grass, and the color of their wallpaper, and after
such intimate fellowship tell them to have a goodnight and
leave their home. The other extreme is to thump your Bible on
the coffee table, demand they show you proof of Bible reading
and devotions, open to a text, read it, preach it, apply it, drive it
home, run it in their face, and then tell them that text was
picked out particularly for them because we could see they
needed to hear it, and then close with a 30 minute prayer
pleading for God to rid their lives of all the sins we can think of
that we have seen over the past 6 months. Care for them, and
care for them with the gospel.
3. Love them. You do not have to be an eloquent person to
communicate you care. Generally speaking, over the long-
haul, congregants will not care two bits about whether we
carry a seamless conversation. They will care about whether
we really, truly love them. If we are genuinely concerned for
their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, they will know
it; if we are not, they will know that too.
4. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who
weep.”220 Sharing joy and sorrow with believers is often more
valuable than our words.
5. Have a special heart for the children. Jesus said, “Let the little
children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 89
belongs the kingdom of heaven.”221 These children are God’s
children, so love them much.
6. Keep things simple and to the point. If you read a Bible text
make it short and sweet; if you explain the text make it simple;
and when you pray keep it direct and specific. Do not pray for
the spread of the gospel in China or for wisdom for our
President. Pray for them and their needs, their concerns, their
struggles, and their thanksgivings.
7. Never be intimidated; rather, be humble. We will enter homes
where the people are smarter than us and know their Bibles
better, and some will try to make sure we know it! If they
proudly put us in our place, big deal. Jesus is our
righteousness and approval, their opinion is not, and Jesus
has already humiliated us at the Cross, so what can a
parishioner use to bash us that has not already been paid for?
Genuine humility will acknowledge that an elder is not the
world’s smartest person, but just a wise man who pursues
godliness and who, when reviled, mocked, belittled, or made
to feel stupid, returns good for evil.
8. Do not be ashamed to say, “I do not know.” Many times you
will be asked complicated questions and expected to answer,
immediately, but most people will appreciate an elder who
says, “Let me get back to you on that”, or “I’m not sure I know
the best way to handle the situation right now. I’ll get back to
you after I have had time to think and pray about it.”
9. We should be sensitive to certain people not wanting us to visit
them. Such visitations may take only 15 minutes (though the
time might seem like 2 hours!) because they let you know in
no uncertain terms that they want you out of their home
yesterday, and if we move fast enough, they may give us a
cookie on the way out the door to thank us for leaving.
However, some visits may last two hours because the folks
lock the door, hand-cuff us to the couch, and inundate us with
cookies, bars, fudge brownies, and every other high-calorie
food and drink under the sun because they truly believe that
pastors and elders should be 175 pounds overweight. We
should be sensitive to this as well. If they offer food, take it.
Rejecting Gertrude’s cookies may be good for our waistlines,
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 90
but often results in needless offense. Remember, some will
have been joyfully anticipating our visit by preparing goodies.
Be careful not to squash their efforts at expressing
10. Avoid teaching, coaching, or giving definitive advice on the first
visit (unless life is in danger). We cannot help until we know
them, and that takes time. Remember, sometimes the kindest
person who welcomes warmly, tickles your ego through
flattery, and befriends you to the utmost, has a dangerous
agenda against another. Impartiality and patience is
important, and hearing both sides is always necessary.
11. Before you ask about the family life, examine your own. Is
there discord in a parishioner’s marriage? Okay, but is there
ever discord in your marriage? Do they do family devotions
every night? No? Do you do family devotions every night?
Every night? Just because you would not live the way they
live does not mean their lifestyle is inherently non-Christian. If
Billy-Joe is a slob and Maggie-Sue a bad cook, that is okay so
long as it works for them.
12. Encouragement, encouragement, encouragement! Every
Christian has a conscience, which means that Christians do
not primarily need someone to tell them what they are doing
wrong. They probably already know. Remember this maxim:
most Christian families are doing all they can to barely scrape
by emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. What they need
from their elders, then, is the gospel of grace and
a. Encouragement in singleness: to use time wisely; to rejoice
in the Lord; to wait patiently upon God if they desire a
b. Encouragement in marriage: to persevere through
sickness, poverty, and bad times; to enjoy each other in
the midst of difficulty; to assure each other of life-long
commitment; to repent and forgive each other because
God has forgiven us in Christ.
c. Encouragement in parenting: to persevere through the
weariness and frustration of discipline; to rely upon God
alone to apply the discipline effectively to our children; to
call upon God alone to save our children from their sins.
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 91
d. Encouragement in empty-nesting: to find godly uses for
extra time; to find Christian friends who can help them
through feelings of worthlessness and purposelessness.
e. Encouragement in retirement: to rest in God alone for self-
worth and self-fulfillment; to find Christian friends who can
encourage them when feelings of abandonment and
worthlessness overwhelm them (remember, the elderly
often struggle with feeling like the church and the world
have no more use for them, and the world often removes
any doubts by saying out loud it has no use for the elderly).
13. Invite parishioners into your own home periodically. If they
feel vulnerable when you are in their home, then make
yourselves vulnerable by inviting them into your home.
Befriend them; embrace them; enjoy them; love them. They
are your fellow companions in the faith—talk to them and live
with them as such. Remember:
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a
mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are
mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is
immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and
exploit…Next to the blessed sacrament itself, your neighbor
is the holiest object presented to your senses.
Christians are no ordinary people, but God’s children who will
soon be transformed into the perfect likeness of Jesus Christ.
14. We cannot pray enough for them and with them. Let them
know the frequency of our prayers for them, and pray with
them. Pray, pray, and pray, for the church is God’s work and
God’s people. If we really believe this, our entire duty toward
God and His people will be bathed in fellowship with God.
15. Finally, one of the most important parts of visitation is
demonstrating that the church listens to her members. So, ask
them good questions,223 and then listen carefully. Do not
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.
1. Are you growing in the faith from month to month? In what specific areas
have you grown in your understanding of Christ and the gospel of grace this
past year? In what areas have you been disappointed?
2. Is your soul being nourished by the preaching and teaching of the
Christ-like Leadership: How the Gospel Creates Servant-Hearted Men 92
correct or qualify what they say, just listen to what they have to
say. Most of the time, they know way more than we do about
certain things, and what they say is valuable information.
There is a kind of teaching that produces genuine godliness. 224
We hope you have encountered it richly and repeatedly
throughout this booklet, and we hope the course nurtured within
your heart and life a deep love for Jesus Christ and those whom
He has placed in your care. Men, what our homes, workplaces,
and churches need are man-slaves of Christ; men for whom Christ
slaved and was crucified, and who respond by slaving for Christ—
picking up their crosses, denying themselves, and following Him.
Let resound in your heart the comfort of having been served and
ransomed by Jesus Christ—let Jesus’ sacrificial death be the food
upon which your soul feeds. And then, when your soul has
feasted, your life will resound in a symphony of servant-hearted
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles
lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over
them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be
great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be
first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man
came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a
ransom for many.
3. What does Gospel of Grace Church do well? Where could the church
4. Do you personally and regularly read the Bible and pray? With your
5. What have you found helpful for devotions?
6. Are there any areas of need in your life or in your family’s life of which you
want the elders or deacons to be aware? Can we assist you in any way?
7. How can we pray for you specifically?
8. What has helped you to be a more faithful witness to Jesus Christ? What
has prevented you from being a more faithful witness?
9. Are there some areas in the church’s life where you have a desire to
serve or participate but are not at present? What gifts and talents do you
have which you are willing and able to use in service to others?
1 Timothy 6:3.