George Washington could have been king or at least president for life. For there was no rival to his popularity in this new nation he had fathered. He was first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen – the only president unanimously elected not once, but twice. In fact, his leadership was so effective that he was asked to serve a third term, but he had no lust for power. Once his public service was complete, he quietly retired to his home at Mount Vernon.
But, then, his honor and humility should not surprise us. As a Bible-reading and God-fearing man, his model was Jesus who, though he was by “very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Phil. 2:6-7) This is the miracle of Christmas. It is also the mystery of Christ’s leadership. For rather than keep all the power to Himself, our King has entrusted each of us who loves Him with one or more spiritual gifts. My last post focused on the first 5 serving gifts. This study focuses on 5 more, beginning with –
1) Leadership. Romans 12:8 says, “He who leads with diligence.” The word means to “stand before” God’s people for the purpose of rallying them toward a God-given goal. “Diligence” contains two ideas – zeal, for no one is motivated to follow a reluctant, half-hearted leader. He must be convinced in his heart that this is what God wants him to accomplish, working tirelessly to get them to their goal. It also has the idea of speed, for a good leader will not procrastinate. He knows that unmet needs are the fodder for discontent. Acts 6 illustrates how quickly the church’s growth stopped and started again when the apostles sensed the disunity over the neglect of their widows and quickly found a solution.
2) Administration – 1 Cor. 12:28. Administration differs from leadership in that leadership is visionary and directive, while administration is the ability to organize a large project into smaller tasks, so people know how to get from Point A to Z. The Greeks used the word to describe a ship’s captain (Think Jason and the Argonauts!) who was able to steer a ship through troubled waters and bring the crew safely to their destination. Smart leaders look for a person with this skill set to make sure all the details get covered. Smart administrators, on the other hand, look for a humble, honorable leader they can support with their gift.
3) Shepherding. This is the ability to guide people in their walk with God. Ephesians 4:11-13 uses it of pastors who “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Those who serve as pastors should have this gift. But it can also be used by small group leaders, Bible class teachers, or anyone with a passion to help people grow in their love for Christ. The one prerequisite for using this gift is a genuine love for people. In re-commissioning Peter, Jesus asked him, “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)
4) Knowledge. “The word of knowledge,” as 1 Cor. 12:8 calls it, is the love of studying the Bible. I base this on Paul’s use of logos (word) in connection with knowledge. This is where we get the suffix “ology” as in biology, geology, etc. In each case, the emphasis is on study of these fields of knowledge. In the same way, the Holy Spirit has gifted some of us to spend extended time in God’s Word, mining out of it great truths that we can share with others. Knowledge in this sense involves special insight into the Bible’s meaning, whereas we learned earlier in our study of gifts, wisdom is the ability to hear the voice of the Spirit telling us how God wants His people to apply the truth in a given situation.
5) Discernment. 1 Cor. 12:10 calls this the “distinguishing of spirits.” Peter used it in Acts 5:1-11 when Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive the apostles about the amount of money they were giving the church. He had no need to hire a private investigator. The Holy Spirit within him served as a spiritual polygraph exposing their lie. A. T. Robertson, the Greek scholar, called this “the gift on gifts” revealing if the other gifts are being used in power of the Holy Spirit or by someone apt to lead the church into heresy and away from their love for Christ. The danger facing those with this gift is that of becoming overly judgmental and developing a critical spirit. What they need to remember is that the goal of criticism is to leave people with the feeling that they’ve been helped.
Finally, though it is often omitted from the list of spiritual gifts, based on the call of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13, I believe there are also some with a special missionary gift enabling them to learn languages and communicate the gospel in ways that make sense in other cultures. My prayer in describing this and the other gifts is that it will whet your desire to develop the spiritual abilities God has given you. But always and only for the purpose of building His kingdom. Like Washington, serve others with honor and humility giving all the glory to Jesus until that day when you quietly retire to the mansion prepared for you.