Church growth and expansion depends on biblical, godly leaders (I am including the pastor(s) along with the elders and deacons). Paul never concerned himself with building projects, numbers, or money (except the collection for the poor from Corinth). His primary concern was establishing spiritual, healthy leaders. After investing nearly three years in the church and elders at Ephesus, Paul gathered these leaders for one last time before going back to Jerusalem and eventually to Rome where he was beheaded. Along with reminders of all he had done with them over that time, he sternly warns them; “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock” (Acts 20:28). Paul got even more specific lest they misunderstand his warning; “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you…from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things to draw away the disciples after them” (20:29). From this warning we gain valuable insights that every leader and church must use to measure how effectively their leaders are leading.
1. Is there humility with a pastor/leader so that he is willing to evaluate himself and allow others to also evaluate his effectiveness as a leader? This includes being willing to accept biblical criticism and correction.
2. A true leader is also a shepherd. He is concerned for the welfare of the flock and whether his leadership is promoting spiritual unity, maturity and ministry by every member, irrespective of their age (Ephesians 4:11-16).
3. Leaders must realize that apart from a daily, close walk with the Lord, they too can be self-deceived and the enemy of God’s work and purpose for the church.
4. Self-deception results in the leaders making themselves the center instead of Christ. They will promote persons who say “yes” to their wants rather than following the model of Christ and the wisdom He has placed in the body as a whole.
5. The delusion becomes catastrophic! Laodicea was a church that thought they were very much alive and “needed nothing”, but Jesus’ evaluation was that they were “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
If you are a pastor, elder, deacon, or even a church member, I plead with you for the sake of Christ and His church, and for His purpose for the church in this world, to humbly let the Lord, the Head of His church, examine and correct leadership that has left the biblical model. It will be a painful process, but every bit worth aligning with the example Christ has left us.