God's Order for Leadership
Leaders and Overseers: Timothy 3:1 This [is] a true saying, Whoever desires the office of an overseer, desires a good work
Leaders and Elders: Titus 1:5 For this cause I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you:
What is a Leader?
For many years I had an earnest desire to be a leader, especially in the Kingdom of God. Having had the call of God upon me from a very young age and being very zealous for the Lord, wanting to go out and conquer the world for the Lord and to fulfil the ministry that He had given me. I realized to be successful in it I needed to be a leader. If God had called me to the kind of position that had seen in the Spirit it would require somebody who is a leader in the church and in the Kingdom of God. I just had one problem. Nobody wanted to follow me!
Now what is a leader without a following? You are not a leader at all. So I read all the books. I bought all the books that told you what spiritual leadership was, to see if I could somehow find out what I needed to do to become a leader and get people to follow me. There are some lovely books out there. They told me how a leader acts. They told me what a leader looks like. They told me everything I needed to know about a leader, except how to become one.
I knew what a leader looked like though. I didn't need to learn that. I wanted to know how can I move from where I am, not being a leader, to becoming a leader? How do I change? How do I go about it? I wanted to know how do I accomplish it, because if I don't I am not going to be able to fulfill my ministry?
So I looked to the Lord and looked in His Word and read the books. There are three things that I always used to learn everything I know. I read the books, I read the Word and then I lived it, and if what the book said and what the Word said and what I experienced lined up together, I formed a doctrine. In everything that I preach and teach, the chances are I have read the books, I have read the Word and I have proved it in my experience. If I haven't I cannot preach it. That is why you don't hear me quoting other preachers all the time, because I must speak from my own experience.
I can give honor to whom it is due by saying, "I read so-and-so's book and he gave this beautiful illustration, and I share it with you." That is wonderful. But for me to stand up and say, "Watchman Nee says, Matthew Henry says," is not good enough. I need to be able to speak from my own heart and my own experience. I don't need to use other people's quotable quotes. I know people who just use quotable quotes all the time. Every time you speak to them you hear, "Yeah, so-and-so said this. Yes, so-and-so said that. I heard this saying," and they are always quoting other people's sayings.
Well, I want to come to the place where I hear people saying, "Les Crause says," because it came from me. It didn't come from somebody else. I want it to be original. It must come from my own heart and my own experience, and until I do that leadership is not there is it? I cannot lead you into something that I have not experienced myself, and I cannot expect you to perform in a way that I have not done myself. It is very important.
A Leader is Not What You Do
I discovered in learning this way that being a leader is not something you do. Being a leader is something you are. Barking does not make me a dog, but if I am a dog it is my nature to bark. Acting like a leader does not make you a leader. You might fool a lot of people and you might even get some of them to follow you. You may imitate somebody else who is a leader and try and get the same kind of response from people that they are getting because they act that way. But you know there is something about leadership that just communicates without any action at all. A leader can just stand in total silence and be in control. There is an aura about him. It seems to shine forth. Why? Because he is a leader. It is part of his very nature. It is part of his very character. It is inside of him and it shines out automatically.
A leader is somebody who has a following, because when he steps out people follow. He doesn't stand there saying, "So aren't you going to follow me?" I do not have to pull it out of you. You are either getting it or you are not. You are either following me or you are not, and if you are not following me I am not leading you. Now how do you come to that place of being this frail little person trying to be a leader to becoming the confident leader that God intends you to be? I have shared some of it already and we will be looking at it more in other places. Leaders People Follow
Before we look at that though I just want to look at some of the qualities of a leader that makes people follow them. Why do people follow a leader? Why do they flock after somebody who has a big name and who could be considered a leader in the visible church? If you were to sit down and make a list of who are the leaders in the Body of Christ, whose names would you put down? It would be the people that everybody is following, I would say. It shows.
Why do people follow that big leader? Why do people like to hang around with and keep close on the heels of somebody who is a true leader? For one very simple reason, because they are not leaders and they want to be leaders. They want to get close enough to him to try and suck it out of him somehow and get it to rub off, maybe.
The Cannibal Instinct
It is called the cannibal instinct. Do you know what the cannibal instinct is? For those of you who do not understand it, cannibals do not eat people because they like the meat. A cannibal only eats certain kinds of people. He eats people that have qualities that he wants, and if you are weak and frail and mad and insane and useless the cannibal doesn't want to eat you. It is bad meat! A cannibal believes that if I eat you I will gain the qualities that you have. And so, if you were an intelligent person, if I eat you I will gain your intelligence. I will gain all the strengths that you had. It is a known fact that if the cannibals caught you, you just acted like you were mad and they wouldn't eat you.
People have this cannibal instinct. They want to latch onto you and eat some of you. What they are trying to say is, "I wish I had what you have. I want some of what you have. I'm going to stick behind you and follow you and be associated with you so that somehow I will pick up some of what you have."
That is why people name-drop. You say, "Well you know, I've been hanging around with so-and-so. We go way back you know." Somehow they are trying to pick up some of that person's fame, some of their reputation to build themselves up and to attain what they know they haven't got. Somehow they feel that if they can be associated with somebody who is a somebody, then somehow they will no longer be a nobody. If you have that drive it is a sure sign that you don't have leadership qualities. A true leader does not need that. He has that quality in him already. He just leads out and people will follow him.
People love to gravitate to success don't they? It doesn't matter what kind of ministry you have and how powerful it is, if you are in the public eye and you are famous and you have a following, people will follow. And do you know, it has been proved that the media can take somebody who is a total nobody, build them up through advertising and create an image and an impression to make people think that the person is a somebody, and everybody starts to follow him. As people start to follow him other people say, "Well everybody is following him. This must be something worth doing," and they jump in on the bandwagon. Before you know you have a crowd drawing a crowd.
"You know we had so many thousand people at our Conference."
"Oh, I wish I was there. It must have been awesome."
"Well, only about twenty three people came to ours."
"Shame, you poor thing!"
Changing Your Mindset
Isn't that the way people think? Get your mind off that. Get your mind off the idea of trying to suck that leadership from somebody else and get the Lord to put it inside of you, so that you can rise up and become that leader. If there is anything we want to impress on you that you will take away with you, it is that. When I step out of here I am not going to go and find another church to join that has a good pastor. God might lead you to do that. I am not saying it is wrong.
I want you to think, "I have a ministry. God's called me to do something. He has called me to lead out, to take charge, to take the bull by the horns. To put it together and lead on," and people will follow you. You have to be confident in what God has put in you and become that kind of leader, and your ministry will flourish and take off. Before you know it suddenly you will not have to think anymore about whether you are a leader or not. It has just become part of your nature. It is automatic.
I shared in one of the earlier meetings at the Conference how the Lord said to me once, "Stop aspiring to get money. See yourself as a millionaire. Don't try and get the millions. Become a millionaire first - inside! Think like one."
Don't aspire to become a leader. Become one on the inside. Even before you ever have a following and before anybody ever comes to you and says, "You inspire me. I want to follow you. I will follow your lead and your example," let it get built on the inside.
My leadership began when the Lord called me to leave my church and give up my job and sit at home and talk to Him all day. So I became a leader, but who was following me? Nobody was. Actually people thought I was mad. I was the last person they wanted to follow. But as I came in the Spirit in the presence of the Lord He began to show me what He wanted me to be. He began to paint a picture inside me of what I was to become in Him.
And that first night when He said to me, "I want you out there," and He called me to the apostolic function, I knew I could not do it. I knew that in the natural it was impossible for me to rise up to that kind of leadership capability. But He said, "I'll be going out there with you. Don't worry about it. I will make you into that kind of leader. All I want you to do is to be available to me. I will do the rest."
I look back on what God has done in my own life and I look back on what I was when He called me. I was the kind of person who wouldn't close in prayer because I was too shy. God wrought in me what He wanted me to be. Sure it didn't happen overnight and sure it involved a lot of death and a lot of preparation and training. Leadership Training Begins in His Presence
God will make you into the leader and He will make you into the leader, where? On the backside of the desert. That is where He started making Moses into the leader. At the Brook Cherith is where He began to make Elijah into a leader, alone in His presence.
Do you notice the kind of leader that Jesus was? Walking into the Synagogue on His very first day in ministry, standing up there reading the scroll and boldly proclaiming, "I'm the Messiah you've all been waiting for." Where did He get it from? He did not get it from His dad. He was just a carpenter, and by that time he was dead. He didn't get it from His brothers and sisters, because they thought He was nuts. Where did He get it from? Where did He get that kind of leadership capability that He could stand up so boldly and look them in the face? Where did He get it from?
Did He go to the right kind of training school to teach Him how to be a leader, to practise elocution correctly, to put on the right kind of clothing and stand with His feet just in the right place? Get the body posture and body language right. Where did He learn it? In the presence of His Father. That is where He learned it. He watched in the Spirit and He saw what the Father did.
The Father said, "Now you go out and do what you see me doing."
Jesus then just acted out what the Father inside Him was doing. That is all He did. That is how He became the kind of leader that He did, that He could stand up and speak and they would say, "Never a man spoke as this man."
Where is your leadership going to come from? Will it come by you learning to be around people, by you learning to take charge of groups of people? No, it is going to come in the presence of the Lord. It is going to come when you come into close communion and fellowship with the Lord Jesus and with the Holy Ghost, and with the Father.
It will happen by coming into their presence, standing and looking and saying, "Lord, give me a picture. Let me see how you do it," and watching what kind of leader He is. Then saying, "Okay Lord, let's go and do this one." Let Him go in you and let Him be in you and through you. That is where your leadership comes from. It comes from inside of you by the Spirit of God that is living in you. God’s Chooses Unlikely Leaders
People are strange creatures. God sent them a deliverer in the form of Moses. The Scripture tells us that Moses was the meekest man in the earth. When Moses was confronted by the great leaders of the day, the intelligencia and nobility - Korah and his crowd - these were the guys who came from the high strata of society. These were the men who had the education, the money, the position and the reputation and moved in the right circles. They were the kinds of people you would expect to be the leaders of the entire nation. God chose though some meek, humble little shepherd who had been living in the desert to come and lead His people to the Promised Land.
Do you know that the people had more respect for Pharaoh than they did for Moses? They really did. They kept crying to go back to Pharaoh. We have the impression that the Israelites were being held in stocks and chains and being forced to go out there chained together to go and work for Pharaoh and to make their bricks. Actually they could have left any time they liked. They lived in their own homes and they were free to come and go as they chose.
How do we know that? When Moses came to return to Egypt the Lord sent his brother Aaron out to come and meet him halfway. So how did Aaron escape the guards? There were no guards. He was free to go any time he liked. The Children of Israel were free to leave Egypt any time they liked. Nobody was making them stay there. So why did they stay? Because they had their needs provided. Because somebody who was stronger than them was making them do it, was controlling their lives. None of them had the courage to rise up and become the leader that God intended, so they remained under Pharaoh's bondage.
Even as Moses took them out and they were wandering around in the Wilderness they kept wailing and groaning and moaning and saying, "I wish we could go back to Egypt. At least we had meat there!"
"What about Pharaoh?"
"Oh, we can handle Pharaoh. Hey, he was a nasty old character, but he fed us, you know."
We Submit to the Wrong Leaders
It is amazing what people will tolerate. You will sometimes come to them in meekness and love thinking that you are going to win them over, only to find out that they will run back in submission and respect to the leader that dominated them and used them. Have you seen it? I have seen it many times. People like to get back into that security of it. Moses was too meek for them. They wanted somebody tough. That is why Korah and his crowd wanted to kick him out.
"Come on Moses, we can lead better than you. We're tired of this wishy-washy leadership that you are giving us here."
Well how was Moses leading? He was saying, "Thus saith the Lord."
Moses in himself was not a leader. In fact he didn't even want to go back. He argued with the Lord and said, "Lord I can't do this. I can't talk. Yes, that's what it is." He started making excuses. In the natural he was not a leader. Moses actually was a pure analytical, and if you know anything about temperaments, the analytical is the least leadership temperament of the lot. He is unassertive and unemotional. He is a total introvert. That is what Moses was. That is why God chose him, because He wanted to manifest His glory and His power through this meek man and show that God was the leader.
You see, it comes from inside of you. That is where your leadership is coming from. And so if you are looking at yourself now and saying, "That's great. I really would like to be a leader, but it is not in my nature. It is not my character to dominate people and push them around and tell them what to do. I'm not that kind of person. You mean I've got to change?"
Jesus is that kind of person. Jesus is the leader within you and He wants to live His leadership through you if you'll let Him.
Moses was not the only one who had this problem. God raised up another man who actually was a very strong leader as well. His name was Samuel, a might prophet of God who was strong and bold and assertive. He spoke the Word of God with authority, such authority the Scripture says that God let none of his words fall to the ground. If Samuel coughed God honored it. That is the kind of authority this man had. I guess you didn't get Samuel mad, hey? If he cursed you, you were dead!
The Children of Israel came to Samuel and said, "We want a king."
"What do you want a king for?"
"Well, everybody else has a king. All the nations have a great big hero. We chat with them in the marketplace and they say, 'So, who is your king?' and we have to say, 'Well, um, we actually don't have a king!' "
"What? You don't have a king?"
"So what church do you belong to?"
"Well, I'm between churches now."
"What? You should see our pastor. He's such a man of God. Man, you must hear this guy preach. He's wonderful!"
The Stereotype Leader
They wanted a king. They wanted to be like everybody else, to have what everybody else had, to have what everybody else wanted and to latch on to that cannibal instinct. They wanted to have somebody to be their great leader. So God gave them somebody who looked the part, head and shoulders above everybody. Saul was a good looking guy. He was this great big body-building type like Arnold Schwartzenegger. You could not have had a better looking person for the part. You looked at Saul and he just oozed leader.
Samuel made the announcement, "I'm going to show you the king. God's given you the king that you want. Fan fare please... And announcing Saul. Saul? Where's Saul?"
He was hiding! Saul was one of the most insecure leaders that Israel ever had. And you know what? Because he was such an insecure man he became a dominating man who used them to build himself up. He used them to his own ends.
That was man's kind of choice of a leader. That was the image that man looked at and said, "That would be the kind of leader."
Many years later as God rejected Saul and God sent Samuel to go and anoint a new king God said to Samuel, "I want you to go to Jesse and anoint one of his sons to be the new king."
Samuel goes and announces it and Jesse said, "Okay, bring on my boys."
Here comes the first guy, another Saul type. Samuel looked at him and he did it in the natural like anyone would have and he said, "Wow! Now that's a king for you."
God said though, "Uh uh. No."
"Are you sure, Lord?"
"Oh, okay. Bring on the next one."
It became worse and worse as they went on. Samuel was now starting to get confused, and Jesse was also starting to get confused, because if God was going to choose a leader for the nation surely He would take the best looking guy? The one who was strong, the one who had the natural qualities and who was quite clearly just born to be a leader?
Eventually he had to say, "Well, have you got any more sons?"
By this time Jesse was probably getting embarrassed and he was saying, "I hate to admit it, but we have the loser out there looking after the sheep. He is just a little weakling, little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy. He's a little sissy who sits and plays his harp and sings songs. The men don't want to mix with this guy. That's why we gave him the dirty job of looking after the sheep."
"Come on, call him please."
David came, and he was just an ordinary little guy. God said, "Rise up and anoint him. That's my man!"
Do you know that David became such a great leader that Israel are proud to acknowledge David, to the point where Jesus came and walked the earth. The most important thing to them was that Jesus was the son of David. What made the difference? It was not the natural qualities in David, let me tell you. The Scripture says that David was a man after God's heart. David was a leader on the inside! That is what counted. That is what counted to God. That is what God wanted to use.
Where are you looking? Are you standing looking in the mirror at yourself and saying, "Do I look like a leader?"
Are you standing looking in the spiritual mirror and saying, "Lord, show it to me. Let me see it. Let me see the leader."
God has different priorities for somebody that He has called to be a leader. Paul the apostle, as he is writing to his disciples, Timothy and Titus whom he had mentored and released into apostolic office, he wrote to them and said, "Now that you guys have set up ministry in the places that I sent you, I want you to appoint some leaders, some overseers and elders. And just so you know what kind of person to look for, these are some of the qualities that I want you to look for. He must be at least six feet tall."
Paul must have been short. He had it against the tall guys!
"He must at least have a Bachelor's degree in something. He must have some kind of education or otherwise he can't lead the church of God."
What qualities would you look for if you were in the place of Timothy and Titus?
"Well, look for people who are managers of their own businesses, directors, managing directors, people that have position in the world."
These people make excellent elders, didn't you know that? Go into any big church and you will find this to be so. Those are the people they appoint to be the elders. Again I am not saying it is wrong. These men are leaders. That is why they rose up in business. But what are we looking for? Natural qualities or spiritual qualities?
God’s Image of a Leader
Paul made a list and I have about twenty of them here. Some of them might overlap. I am going to go through them very quickly. These are the kinds of qualities he told Timothy and Titus to look for in those whom they would appoint to leadership. I just want to clarify something here concerning this passage, because a lot of people misunderstand it. Paul used the term 'bishop' here. He also used the term 'elder'. There are two different Greek words there, 'episcopos' and 'presbyteros'. What is the difference between them? There seems to be a common idea amongst leaders in the status quo church today that the term bishop refers to somebody who is a cut above the pastors.
They say, "The bishop is in charge of a lot of churches and pastors." And so as men rise up in ministry and become leaders of large organizations they like to call themselves bishop. I shared with somebody at the Conference, "A bishop is somebody who doesn't have the courage to call himself an apostle," because the term bishop has now become synonymous with apostle.
That is hogwash! The bishop is no different to an elder. He is simply an overseer of a group of people. It is the exact same office. What Paul was speaking about here was simply appointing in the local church those who would be the leaders, the oversight and the elders. The only difference is the term elder normally is linked with age and maturity and refers to somebody who has lived a little bit and therefore has the maturity and is automatically respected by the community and people automatically look up to him.
And so at times the term elder came long before the church. It dated right back to the early Old Testament, and it was the older men, the senior men who had the long gray beards, who had all the wisdom and the knowledge. People looked to them for guidance and leadership because of their experience and their wisdom. The term overseer that was added I believe allowed for the appointing of somebody to a leadership position who was not old, gray-haired or wore a long beard.
It was quite possible for Timothy and Titus to appoint somebody to be an elder in the local church who was still a young person, because what they were looking for were spiritual qualities. What are those spiritual qualities? By the time you are finished reading these you will be quite sure that you will never be a leader in all your life.