Serving God’s people is no small matter. When describing the responsibility entrusted to a pastor or spiritual leader, God through the author of Hebrews exhorts us to “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Heb 13:17 (NKJV) Think of that for a moment. Spiritual leaders in our lives will give an account to God for the way they were watching over our souls, or not. Lord help us in this serious responsibility!
It’s really unfortunate that the mistakes of a few spiritual leaders are often unfairly magnified over and above the regular ongoing blessings flowing through so many others, countless others who live lives above reproach. People would much rather trumpet loudly their hurt and pain or their disagreements instead of thanking God more and louder for faithful servants in their lives. This is sad, but a part of the fleshly human nature that exists in all of us. If a pastor commits adultery, it’s front page news, followed by viral Facebook posts which makes for fuel in the enemy’s hands. Who is stepping in to help the fallen brother? Who is watching out for his wife, their kids, the path of destroyed lives in his wake? There is no gossip about a hospital visit. So very few post or share the countless hours a pastor or spiritual leader spent counseling a married couple to stay married. No instead, when they divorce, they blame it on the church!
Yet when a man serves tirelessly, day after day, visiting the sick, praying for the flock, up early, to bed late, eating the bread of sorrows often, no one knows but the Father. When a woman visits a convalescent home every Friday with soup and a Bible, she’s neglected to be mentioned. In a very real way it should be that way. Jesus taught us that when we do our good deeds we should do them in secret and not to be seen by man. (Matthew 6:1-4). But the imbalance of what is shared negatively makes it sound like there are only bad leaders in the church. That’s not true. The Church of Jesus Christ is filled with men and women, boys and girls, who serve their hearts out in obedience to Jesus, and in service to His flock, city, and world. The “good” spiritual leaders and pastors far outweigh the “bad”. Lord help us to see the best in one another, to look for the best, and encourage the best!
In a previous article, we learned about 10 Signs of a Bad Spiritual leader from the lips of Ezekiel. Now, let’s take some time to accept 4 Signs of a good spiritual leader from the life of and through the lips of Paul the Apostle in Acts 20. What do we look for in our pastors and leaders?
#1 – A GOOD SPIRITUAL LEADER CARES
Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you. Acts 20:31 (NLT)
A good pastor is always on the watch over the flock of God. Paul was constantly watching and caring for the Ephesian believers loving them day and night. Some of this was seen. Some of it was unseen. Yet a good spiritual leader will care for the flock and serve them in the calling God has given them. If you don’t care you won’t notice. If you don’t notice you won’t act. If you don’t act you won’t be a good leader or servant. Pray that God would enlarge your heart with care.
#2 – A GOOD SPIRITUAL LEADER RELIES UPON GOD’S STRENGTH
And now I entrust you to God and the word of his grace—his message that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself. Acts 20:32 (NLT)
A good spiritual leader realizes that it’s the grace of God that is able to build them up. There is a pattern of trusting in the Lord for His strength and wisdom, not relying upon their own weak strength and human ingenuity. Despite all the attacks from within and without, we have God and His protection, His power, His majesty. It’s true, only God, and the Word of His grace is able to build you up. Trust Him. When you get weary, know that He is able to lift you up! Cry out to Him.
#3 – A GOOD SPIRITUAL LEADER GIVES
I have never coveted anyone’s money or fine clothing. Acts 20:33 (NLT)
A good spiritual leader will give. He/she is there for the sake of building and adding to a person’s life, not taking advantage of them for their own gain. The pattern Paul showed to the Ephesian elders was one of giving not taking. His heart was set on leading them into the very presence of God. He was interested outwardly in their possessions. He did ask for them or make them a condition of his ministry to them. But even more, inside his heart between God and him alone, he didn’t even covet their ‘stuff’. He came to give of himself for the sake of the gospel. Sacrifice on many levels, represented his heart and life.
#4 – A GOOD SPIRITUAL LEADER WORKS HARD
You know that these hands of mine have worked to pay my own way, and I have even supplied the needs of those who were with me. Acts 20:34 (NLT)
A good pastor and spiritual leader will work hard and not demonstrate laziness. In the city of Ephesus, Paul worked as a tentmaker as he planted and established the church. So many servants of the Lord are known as “bi-vocational” in that they work a full time job in the world and serve countless hours in the Church and community. But even if you have the privilege of serving Jesus in a full time capacity, laziness is not acceptable. Work hard and be diligent friend! You are serving the King of Kings and representing Him. Give Him and your people the best.
Let’s be sure to pray for our spiritual leaders, their families, and lives. The enemy of our souls is looking to send the next viral video of a failed spiritual leader attempting to discredit the entire Body of Christ. Our prayers, support, and encouragement will keep our pastors and spiritual leaders in a place of strength and joy as they live their lives in service to us.