Principles for Choosing Church Leaders — Matthew 10

Many years ago, I knew of a church that was founded on the idea that every church member should be an elder on the governing board of the church at least once for a three-year term. The only qualification for being an elder was being a church member. After a few years, the church began electing governing elders who had been church members for less than a year, with predictable results.

From Jesus’ call of the twelve disciples to become twelve apostles we can learn some principles to consider when choosing church leaders, principles worth thinking about, discussing, and considering.

First, before Jesus called His twelve disciples to be apostles, He trained them for three years. He taught them how the Old Testament pointed to Him. He taught them how to apply some Old Testament examples and laws, and how these differed from some of the traditions they had been taught. He taught them truths about God the Father and himself they could not learn from the Old Testament, but were consistent with Old Testament teachings, prophecies, and laws. Jesus was and is the truth. Jesus taught them the truth and displayed the truth in practice. Later, Jesus sent the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, to indwell them and help them teach and lead as apostles. In other words, from a large number of disciples, Jesus chose twelve of them and spent three years teaching them to become apostles.

Second, Jesus gave these twelve disciples opportunities to apply His teachings under supervision. Hence, Jesus sent them out on a mission trip as described in Matthew 10. Jesus gave them the miraculous powers that He had and told them how to use them. What Jesus told them to do was the beginning of planting churches in the towns that accepted them and Him when they preached the good news.

Third, later, Jesus told them that they would need to make sacrifices to serve Him, and then Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins.

Fourth, though Jesus knew in advance who would later betray Him, one of those, Judas, was set apart to be an apostle, but he did not fulfill his calling.

So, what are some principles can we learn from Matthew 10 about choosing church leaders?

First, before church leaders are placed in positions of responsibility, they must be well trained in the Bible and be willing to use the gifts God has given them according to the Bible.

Second, before appointing or electing future church leaders, they need to be given opportunities to demonstrate that they know how to teach and lead others using what they have learned. After they have done this, others will know whether or not they are capable of doing what the church needs done.

Third, they must be willing to make some sacrifices to lead the church. Leaders usually sacrifice time, talent, and treasure to help the church they lead. They do not lead to acquire gold, silver, or copper, but to serve the church and others in Jesus’ name according to the Bible’s teachings and principles.

Fourth, the church may sometimes be led by someone unsuited for the task, a person who on their own level becomes a Judas. Even though that may happen sometimes, if the majority of a church’s leaders have truly gone through leadership training modeled after the leadership training the apostles experienced, a church can overcome the harmful effects of a person like Judas.

Please share some of your ideas and understandings about other leadership principles from the Bible or any of your thoughts on the International Bible Lesson for Matthew 10:1-15.

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May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

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