Introduction: We naturally think that any successful organization has
leadership. Is this also true for the church? If so, what kind of
leaders should they be? Should the leaders of the church model
themselves after leaders of the world? Leaders of industry? Does the
church need leaders at all? Isn’t Jesus the only leader we need?
Let’s jump into our study and find out what the Bible teaches us
about leadership in the church.

  1. Leadership In and Outside the Church

    1. Read 1 Samuel 8:1-5. Think back over what you remember
      about Samuel’s life. What kind of leader was he? (Samuel
      was a great leader.)

      1. Would you call Samuel a typical leader? (Samuel was a
        prophet. A prophet was a spokesman for God. Thus, he
        was not a leader in the traditional sense. Normally,
        leaders are not spokespersons for someone else.)

      2. Notice that the people want a new leader. What
        reasons do they give for seeking new leadership?
        (Samuel is old. He sons are not qualified
        replacements because they have not followed God.)

      3. What, precisely, do the people say they want for a
        leader? (A king to lead them.)

        1. Does this logically follow from the concerns the
          people gave in verse 5? (I don’t see the logical

    2. Read 1 Samuel 8:6-9. Why was Samuel unhappy to hear the
      people ask for a king? (He thought it was a personal
      rejection of his leadership.)

      1. What did God think of it? (He thought it was a
        rejection of Him.)

      2. What was wrong with asking for a king? Isn’t
        organization good? (These verses highlight the
        difference between God’s leadership goals and the
        world’s leadership goals. God wants leaders who speak
        for Him. The people had repeatedly turned to the gods
        of their own choosing.)

    3. Read 1 Samuel 8:10-18. Is the problem with kings that
      they charge for their services?

      1. What do you see as the most important argument God
        gives Samuel against having a king? (The king will
        act in his own best interest. God acts in the
        interest of His people.)

    4. Read 1 Samuel 8:19-20. What do we now find is the real
      reason the people want a king? (They want to be like the
      world! It really has nothing to do with Samuel.)

    5. Are there lessons in these verses that would apply to
      church leadership today? (God avoids human leaders that
      put themselves first. The model of worldly leaders is not
      the model God is looking for in the church. God prefers
      leaders who speak for Him. Our goal is to make God our
      true leader.)

    6. Last week we studied the request made by the mother of
      James and John to make them the top leaders in Jesus’
      kingdom. Let’s read again the part of the story which
      describes Jesus’ view of leadership in the church. Read
      Matthew 20:25-28. What kind of leader does Jesus describe?
      (A servant leader.)

    7. Can you draw lines between God’s argument against having a
      king for a leader in 1 Samuel 8 and Jesus’ description of
      the proper leader in Matthew 20? (They seem to fit
      perfectly. In 1 Samuel 8 we read what is wrong with
      earthly kings (that they take for themselves) and in
      Matthew 20 we read what is right with spiritual leaders
      (that they serve others). Comparing the two, we get a
      picture of what God has in mind for church leaders. Church
      leaders should not take for themselves, they should serve

      1. Does this mean that church leaders should not get
        paid for their work? (Read Matthew 10:9-10. When
        Jesus sent out his disciples He expected that those
        they helped would in turn financially support them.
        See also, Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:7-11.)

  2. Leadership Qualities

    1. So far we have been looking at the kind of general
      attitude we need in church leaders. Let’s turn now to some
      specific qualities. Read 1 Timothy 3:1-3. In the past I
      thought I should avoid voting for myself for a church
      leadership position. What does 1 Timothy 3:1 suggest about
      wanting to become a church leader? (It suggests this
      desire is just fine. Nothing wrong with it. It is a noble

      1. Is everyone who wants to be a church leader qualified
        to be one?

      2. As you look at the list of qualifications in verses 2
        and 3, what kind of picture do you get?

        1. Do you see any qualifications that you would
          question today? If so, why?

          1. Should time alter God’s statement of

        2. Are these standards applied to the leaders of
          your church?

        3. Notice that the leadership position here is the
          “overseer” (KJV-“Bishop”) which literally means
          “the visitor” or “inspector.” Does this seem
          like a description of local church leadership?

          1. If not, then must our local church leaders
            conform to all of these requirements?
            (This is not a local leader. But, it
            logically follows that the more of these
            qualities a local leader possesses, the
            better it is.)

    2. Read 1 Timothy 3:4-5. What is the link between being a
      good, successful parent and being a successful church

      1. How do you explain that Samuel was a great leader of
        Israel, yet we learned earlier ( 1 Samuel 8:3)that his
        sons did not “walk in his ways?” (Perhaps the story
        of Samuel reinforces the point: the people would not
        have been so anxious to turn to a king if Samuel’s
        sons were honest, spiritual, competent leaders. God
        downplays this issue, however, in His discussion
        about this with Samuel. 1 Samuel 8:7-8.)

    3. Read 1 Timothy 3:6. What is the problem with selecting
      recent converts as leaders?

      1. If someone converted long ago is still conceited,
        should that person be denied a church leadership

    4. Read 1 Timothy 3:7. Our leaders need to have a good
      reputation outside the church. Why? (Paul seems to say
      that what we do outside of church, what we do in our
      business dealings, is an important indicator of whether we
      will ultimately fall into disgrace and thus disgrace the

    5. Why didn’t Paul mention that leaders should have the
      spiritual gift of leadership ( Romans 12:6-8)?

    6. Read 1 Timothy 3:8-9. We think of deacons as church
      leaders who handle more practical tasks. (See Acts 6:2-4.)
      However, the Greek term translated “deacon” in 1 Timothy
      3:8 is the same Greek term used in Matthew 20:26 (Whoever
      wants to become great among you must be your servant
      [deacon].) How do these qualifications for what seem to
      be local leaders compare with the qualifications for an
      “overseer?” (They have the same “feel,” but a shorter

    7. Read 1 Timothy 3:11. Should a good leader be rejected
      because of his wife?

      1. What practical point do you think Paul is making?

      2. What if the wife is the leader?

    8. Read 1 Timothy 3:12. Here are some more qualifications
      for a local church leader. When it refers to “one wife,”
      does that mean “one wife at a time?” Or, should our local
      church leaders be married only once and to the same wife?

    1. Titus 1:7-8 states the qualifications for an overseer that
      are similar to those listed in 1 Timothy 3. Read Titus 1:9
      for a point not made in Timothy 3. As you consider church
      leadership, how important is it for leaders to refute
      those who oppose sound doctrine? (The qualities we have
      been looking at so far seem to be “emotional intelligence”
      and spirituality. Titus adds that our leaders need to be
      able to defend what they believe.)

  1. Motivating Leadership

    1. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-2. Paul is giving Timothy (a leader)a
      motivational talk. What should motivate church leaders,
      according to Paul? (Church leaders need to keep in mind
      that Jesus is coming again! He is going to execute
      judgment on the wicked and He is going to establish His
      kingdom. This is at the heart of the end time message of
      the three angels. The first angel declares that the time
      of judgment has come! Revelation 14:6-7.)

    2. Read 2 Timothy 4:3-5. Paul says a time will come when
      people will turn to “Bible teachers” who only teach the
      myths the people want to hear. Has that time come?

      1. What can we do to counteract that? (Not only pray for
        our leaders and teachers, but pray that the Holy
        Spirit will move on the hearts of those who listen.)

    3. Friend, would you like to be a church leader? We have
      studied the qualifications. Set your heart on your goal,
      and ask God to create those qualities in your life. This
      will not only prepare you to become a church leader, but
      it will help you to be a positive support for the current

  2. Next week: Embracing the World.