Summary: Christian leaders are servants of Christ and stewards of the gospel.

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Title: Christian Leadership

Text: 1 Corinthians 4:1-7

Truth: Christian leaders are servants of Christ and stewards of the gospel.

Aim: I want the church to understand the qualities needed in deacons.

Life ?: What are the marks of Christian leaders?


A deacon, who was full of himself, was teaching a boy Sunday School class. He was working hard to stress the importance of living a Christian life. With an air of arrogance he asked, “Why do people call me a Christian?” After an awkward silence one of the little guys said, “Maybe it’s because they don’t know you.”

The last Sunday of this month we will elect new deacons. You have the biblical qualifications on the bulletin insert. In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul deals with how the church is to think about its leaders. In the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians Paul is addressing divisions in the church. The church was divided over different pastors that lead the church. Paul was horrified by this worldly behavior.

In chapter 3:5 he asks, “What is Apollos? What is Paul?” He doesn’t say “who” but “what.” It is a way to denigrate himself and Apollos. In chapter 4:1 he tells them how they should think about Christian leaders. Christian leaders are servants of Christ and stewards of the gospel. These qualifications are not just for ministers. They apply to all church leaders. Those two pictures provide guidance as we select deacons for our church.

What are the marks of Christian leaders?


How is a church to view Christian leaders? He is not the church boss. The church already has a boss, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian leaders are servants and their Master is Jesus Christ.

My first pastorate was a country church. It had a gravel parking lot. One Sunday after church one of our good deacons, Chuck Luthi, came into the church chuckling. He said some of the kids were throwing gravel. He told them to stop throwing gravel; they were going to hit the cars. One of my daughters, the third one to be exact, about four or five years of age said, “I don’t have to. My daddy owns this place.” Well, I may be the leader but I’m certainly not the owner or boss.

There are other parts of the Bible that speak of the dignity and nobility of the office of pastor and deacon. These men deserve to receive respect from the church. Knowing the whole Bible helps people think and act appropriately toward the leaders of the church. Paul is intentional in using this picture because he is addressing the problem of divisiveness in the church. The word “servants” means literally, “under rower.” In the bottom of Roman ships slaves would man oars to row the ship. If you’ve seen the movie Ben Hur, this is what Charleton Heston did as a slave. By Paul’s day the word simply referred to a subordinate. It retained its humble connotations. We mean the same thing when we speak of an underling. A good dose of humility would resolve many of these divisive issues. The church’s leadership sets the tone and provides the model by remembering they are servants of Christ.

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