SERIES: The Book of Acts
TEXT: Acts 20:17-38
MESSAGE: Signs of a Godly Leader

“Years ago as a pastor, I was stung by the bite of a narcissistic church leader. That bite led to bitterness before it led to healing. A few years later, I found myself in the daunting role of an assessor of church planters, seeing the warning signs in the early 2000s of what would become a church culture seemingly addicted to platform, influence, success, power, and relevance. Even in those early days, I’d hear the language of narcissism floated. My concern was growing…People were hurting…Lay leaders were confused…In a popular podcast called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill (Christianity Today), producer and director Mike Cosper notes the tendency in recent decades to choose giftedness in church leaders…at the expense of character. He tells stories of young, gifted leaders who rose to power in settings as diverse as sprawling Southern California, urban Seattle, and the Chicago suburbs. Armed with bold visions, compelling personal stories, and a seemingly relentless desire to succeed, these gifted young leaders would lead flocks of thousands. In some cases, young and influential leaders were rising to prominence in their twenties, absent accountability, mentoring relationships, seminary training, communities of care…(a) rise to power and prominence without deep spiritual discipleship and formation…In time, those confused by the tactics, personality, even the abusive tendencies of the leader are faced with a question: How can someone so gifted and influential do such harm?” — Chuck Degroat

TEXT: Acts 20:17-38

“If we want to understand Christian elders and their work, we must understand the biblical imagery of shepherding. As keepers of sheep, New Testament elders are to protect, feed, lead, and care for the flock’s many practical needs.”  Alexander Strauch

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” — Acts 20:28

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  — Acts 20:29-30

Q: What are the traits of a godly leader? Paul gives us three in today’s text: (1. Tears 2. Trials 3. Trust)

  1. Tears (v. 18-19a)

“…In ancient Rome, humility was a negative word associated with defeat. Humility before the gods and emperors was advised, but humility towards an equal was regarded as ill-informed. One of the prized virtues was “love of honor.” Academic research found that a humility revolution took place in the middle of the first century. Not only because of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus’

crucifixion changed the way people understood greatness and humility. The cross of Christ was contrary to the understanding of greatness in the ancient world.” — John Dickson

“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” — Psalm 25:9

 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” — Ezekiel 36:26

       2. Trials (v. 19b-21)

“…and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” — Romans 1:16

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” — 1 Corinthains 1:22-25

        3. Trust (v. 22-24)

And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

TAKEAWAYS: What can we take away from today’s text?

  • Pray for your leaders

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.” — Hebrews 13:7

  • Seek the true Leader

Next time you face the unexpected, a moment of difficulty you really don’t want to go through, remember that such a moment doesn’t picture a God who has forgotten you, but one who is near to you and doing in you a very good thing. He is rescuing you from thinking that you can live the life you were meant to live while relying on the inadequate resources of your wisdom, experience, righteousness, and strength; and He is transforming you into a person who lives a life shaped by radical God-centered faith.  — Paul David Tripp

  • Trust in God’s leading

v. 22 — And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit…”

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:1-2

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