By James Holland Sr.
Apostolic Leaders are Responsible for:
1- Teaching people the Word of God.
The word of God has the power to release us from sin, from sickness, from unforgiveness, and from all the things that tend to separate us from fellowship with God. We need to proclaim the word, not our personal opinions or our personal ideas. We are commanded to preach, teach and declare the word; it was not a mere request of our Lord. When the word is declared and rightly divided, it will defend itself. We need to be declaring the word daily. After all, that’s what the church in Acts did. The word, when released in faith and obedience, has transforming power within it. Make no mistake about it, God honors His word He is bound to His word. The word becomes the light that reveals to me where I am with God and where I need to go in my relationship with God. The word is settled in Heaven and it needs to be settled in our hearts. Together the word and the name of Jesus give to us all the authority we will need to go forward to fulfill the will of God.
The same word that has delivered us will also deliver others. We are not merely called to hold a position. We are called to go forth and conquer new ground as well. God’s word will always work when applied properly.
As a leader, we must get the word in our mind and our spirit so, like a seed, it can be planted in the soil of our soul that it may produce what God has promised. The most used terms in scripture are “The word of God,” “The word of the Lord,” “The Lord said,” and “The Lord spoke.” The Word has a Life force that is released in us when we read it, study it and meditate upon it. There is no other book to date like the Bible. It is God in ink. It is God’s thoughts; His feelings about us and about life and eternity. Yet, it is like any other book if you just own it but never read it or apply the principles in it.
1 Peter 1:23 says, “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” We must teach people to allow the word of God to become a controlling factor in their lives daily. If you are going to be effective, you must stand and believe the word of God even in times of testing. There will be many times of testing.
There is floating around in the Christian community today a so called faith that I call “voodoo faith.” That is, those who seem to embrace this mind set simply say “ignore the real situations, don’t acknowledge them in any way and they will just go away.”
Real faith, however, acknowledges reality, yet does not limit the outcome to the reality of the situation but allows a higher principal to begin to intervene. It’s called faith in God’s word. Daniel never denied that he was in a Lion’s den. The Hebrew brethren never denied that they were put into a fiery furnace. The principle of God’s word will go beyond our limitations and even the carnal reasoning of our mind. Teach the Word. Let the life force of the word be the determining factor. We are not to deny what is going on around us, however, we are to acknowledge that we need to allow the power of God’s promises to prevail.
Use the word properly in your daily life. Paul instructs Timothy to “rightly divide the word.” Only when it is released properly will it produce the proper results. Satan is always afraid of those who are rightly dividing the word. He must come under subjection to the word as must everything else. Jesus shows us how to use the word in the wilderness temptation. Notice how Satan tried to tempt his flesh, his emotions, and his carnal reasoning. Yet, Jesus relied neither on carnal reason nor emotions to fight back.
He released the power of the Word. Jesus knew the authority of the Word. Do we?
In order for Satan to convince Adam and Eve to sin, he had to plant doubt in their minds about the word of God. We all know the results of that. God wants to release power into our lives but He doesn’t necessarily honor ideas, or our opinions or our programs. He always honors His word. Teach people the word and they will know what God expects of them.
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and ever tongue
That shall rise up against thee in judgment thou shall condemn….”
2- Identifying leaders and training them.
How can you identify the leaders in your midst? Here are some things to look for when choosing a leader:
A- Observe who is capable of providing direction in response to a ministry challenge or opportunity.
B- Look for those who demonstrate a keen interest in the vision, plans and direction of the ministry that you are projecting.
C- Seek out those who are mature in their Christian walk.
D- Look for leaders that are faithful to church. (Note—if you pick someone for a leader who has leadership abilities yet is not faithful, giving them a position in leadership probably will not make them faithful either! Being faithful has to do with our commitment).
E- Look for those who get along well with other people. (People will not follow someone who has a personality they do not like). This should be considered from two perspectives.
a- The leader’s own personality
b- The personality of those who are being chosen for leadership in the church. This is very important. Many people within the church have some leadership skills yet they do not get along well with themselves or others. This always causes on-going conflicts. These kind of people normally do not change their outlook. They are not aware that anything is wrong and if they by some divine intervention, become aware that something is wrong they will tell you quickly that it is everyone else!
F- Look for those who do not always have to be right. (Only God is right all the time).
G- Look for those who are team players, those who will be apart of the plan of action even if you don’t do it their way.
The price of victory is discipline. This means self-control, sacrifice, and hard work.
1 Corinthains 9:25 says, “Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate (moderate, self-restrained, not given to excess) in all things.” Paul is saying you can’t break the training regiment and win. This is not only true in athletics, it is true in everything. It is especially true in Leadership. Genuine success always comes at a high price. Every athlete knows this. That’s why they regulate their sleep, what they eat, and how they exercise. It’s not a part time effort. For those who want to excel, it is a constant, nonstop responsibility. Apostolic leadership must become a passion. It is not merely a question of doing whatever is mandatory and avoiding whatever is prohibited. Why is discipline important? Discipline teaches us to operate by principle rather than desire. Saying NO to our impulses (even the ones that are not inherently sinful) puts us in control of our appetites instead of vice-versa. We belong to an undisciplined society. The world we live in has enthroned the idea of personal rights and made restraint seem evil.
1-Study the word of God.
2-Have a mature attitude in pressure situations.
3-Always submit to spiritual authority
4-Finish what you start.
5- Have an effective prayer life.
If you will take time to learn the skills you need in ministry, you will save time in the long run. Airplane pilots spend four weeks a year in retraining because lives are dependent on their skills. How much more important is it for us to be trained. Keep learning. In Luke 6:40, the phrase “To be perfect” means being fully trained complete, mature.
3- Empowering leaders and releasing them.
Our success as leaders will depend in part on bringing others alongside us who know the vision, live the vision and will help cast the vision. Moses didn’t have forever on this side of eternity. He had to have a replacement; he had to have help, and God made provision for future leaders at the inception of the process. Regardless of how anointed you may be, you can’t do everything by yourself. There is simply too much to be done. You must build a team. Many churches suffer because the leader will not allow anyone else to do anything. If we do not raise up those who can carry on after us then we have not been successful. Many get tired of serving in a certain area so they will say, “God is finished with me in this area; I am moving to another area of ministry.” While God may well lead us to different areas of ministry over a life time, He also expects us to train someone else to carry on that work before we transition to something else. Question: Who are you currently training? If you are not taking time to train someone, don’t do them the disservice of merely putting them in a position and then complaining when they do not perform the duties well.
Learn to release leaders to lead. Even Paul, the great man of God he was, realized the need for empowering and releasing others to help in ministry. Many leaders today tend to think in terms of achievement of goals or the production of a program that is measured in terms of the number of people who came or the amount of funds that was raised or spent. The focus of apostolic leadership is quite different. It’s about reproducing the life of Christ in the lives of people. Do you want to multiply your ministry? Do you want to expand and increase your impact for the kingdom of God? Then begin to build a leadership network. Paul states this principle to Timothy: “You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrusted to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well” ( 2 Tim. 2:1,2 )
Paul envisioned four generations of leadership development in this short exhortation.
1- Paul’s leadership.
2- Timothy’s leadership.
3- Those who Timothy would equip and send.
4- Then those that go and equip.
Reproduction, not merely production, is the key to effective apostolic ministry.
4- Praying for the people.
As a leader, we must be sensitive to the struggles of people. That is why we must pray for them. Whether in private or in their fellowship together, we are a praying people. In fact more mention is specifically made of prayer in the book of Acts than any other book of the New Testament! Prayer must never be substituted for other activities. Out of a prayer meeting, the church was born (Acts 1:14). And they continued in this communion (2:42; 6:4). They prayed when challenged by opposition and physical danger (4:24; 12:5; 16:25; 18:9-10). They prayed when in need of divine guidance (1:24; 9:11; 22:17-18). They prayed when burdened for others’ needs (8:15; 19:6). They prayed when ministering to the sick and hopeless (9:40; 16:16; 28:8). They prayed when commissioning people for special service (6:6; 13:3; 14:23). They prayed when parting (20:36; 21:5). They prayed when facing death (7:59-60).
One cannot help but notice the varied locations and times of prayer. They prayed in the temple (3:1; 16:16). But more often prayer was noted in their homes (1:13-14; 9:11; 12:12; 14:23) sometimes on the housetop (10:9). They prayed by the riverside (16:13); they prayed by the seashore (21:5); they prayed on ships (27:35); they prayed in jail (16:25). At noon hour (10:9), in the afternoon (3:1), and even at midnight they prayed (16:25).
Prayer is not some distant goal we are trying to reach, but rather it is a present and continuing fact of our experience. What may be the most remarkable aspect about the prayers of the early church is the way they were answered. God gave them what they asked for. So we must pray for one another.
5- Setting an example.
In Acts 1:8, we are told that we will be witnesses (examples) to others. So the real question is not “Am I an example?” but rather “What kind of example am I?” To lead means to be out in front of. History testifies to the fact that people will follow good or bad leadership. We are in desperate need in the church, as well the nation, of some good examples to follow.
Here are some guidelines to consider to becoming a good example:
1- Get organized.
2- Use time wisely.
3- Find ways to be edified rather than merely entertained.
4- Pay attention to small things.
5- Except responsibility.
6- Once you start something finish it.
7- Keep your commitments.
8- Tell yourself “No” from time to time.
9- Be committed to seek God, to live righteously.
10- Be committed to do His will regardless of the cost
The right example will always help to build the right foundation. Jesus is our perfect example. Everything builds up and out from him. Before God gave Moses the law and before Peter preached the New Testament plan of salvation, God implemented a foundational plan called leadership. Israel conquered Canaan through the leadership of Moses and Joshua. The first century church reached their world through the leadership of the apostles. We have been called by God to reach our generation, regardless of how impossible it may appear. We must be an apostolic example in these uncertain times. Let God place an anointing on your life. Anointing doesn’t have to be crude unfortunately many leaders have allowed situations to harden them so they can be very crude and rude to people and call it anointing. We need to be reminded that true anointing doesn’t drive people away; it draws them.
6- Delegating tasks to the body so people can fulfill their God given purpose
Moses learned the art of delegation from his father-in-law. Exodus 18:14 says “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and the people stand before you from morning until evening?” Moses’ father-in-law says to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.” The clear New Testament pattern for the church is for God ordained people to lead the people of God. The church is not to be lead by dictators, autocrats, or solitary rulers. From the beginning, oversight was shared by the twelve apostles and we see that they also appointed subordinate leaders, those who functioned as a team. Everybody is good at something. We, as leaders, must be able to identify their strengths. Peter and John together dominated the first twelve chapters of Acts. Then the focus shifts to Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13. Then Barnabas went with Mark, and Paul went with Silas at the end of Acts 15. Timothy joined Paul and Silas in Acts 16. When Paul returned to Antioch in Acts 18, he took Aquila and Priscilla along. Paul even took Luke and Aristarchus with him on his journey to Rome, although he was a prisoner of the Roman government at the time. In other words, ministry, as depicted in the New Testament, was never a one-man show. 1 Corinthians 12:4 talks about the “diversity of gifts.” It is telling us that all people are differently equipped with certain abilities. Even Jesus chose twelve others to help in the fulfillment of his plan! It is simply not wise leadership to try to manage everything with hands-on oversight. Leaders who take this approach invariably frustrate their people by micromanaging, and they sabotage their own effectiveness.
How then do you decide what to delegate to others? First of all you need to have a clear understanding of your priorities. Luke outlines the priorities embraced by the leaders of the early church in Acts 6:2-4. Notice the three main activities that dominated their energies—prayer, the ministry of the word, and servant ministry, respectfully. These activities are the pattern for church leaders today. They outline the main business of the church and, therefore, set the agenda for all church leaders. The order is clear. Servant ministry, while crucial, is not to eclipse the prayer and ministry of the word. So these other ministries have to be delegated to someone else so that the church can continue to grow.
We must guard against letting other ministries, although very necessary, push us to neglect the Apostolic order we see in Acts. Somebody has to give themselves to prayer and declaring the Word. We see such example in Acts 6:2-4 where the Twelve said, “it is not desirable that we should leave the Word of God to serve tables. . . but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and ministry of the Word.”
It is important to note that the apostles did not regard serving tables (giving food and clothing to those in need, counseling people in things they were dealing with) as something that was dispensable. Neither were they suggesting that waiting tables was beneath them because they had achieved the rank of Apostle. There was simply too much work for them to do it all without neglecting their more important duties. So they appointed men in a support role, men who could serve alongside them to meet those needs.
This is the whole part of servant leadership. We are servants, leading and training other servants. When this happens, the ministry becomes a self-perpetuating school of servants. Jesus molded that kind of discipleship during His earthly life, and He always maintained the perfect balance, never neglecting prayer or the ministry of the Word for the sake of meeting mundane needs. Yet, He never let people’s needs go unmet.
Following are just a few examples of other ministries that are vital for the church to grow. There is always room for lay-ministry in the church. We need to mobilize lay preachers, develop home Bible study leaders and visitation leaders, guide those who have the gift of encouragement, gifts of music, administration, etc. We all need to be involved in the ministry of mercy – that is, sharing God’s mercy with others. The gifts of giving, of helping, teaching! God’s giving of equipping gifts (Ephesians 4:12) confirms a ministry for the laity.
The above article, “Responsibilities of Apostolic Leaders” was written by James Holland. The article was excerpted from the CD, Characteristics of an Apostolic Leader by James Holland.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.