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Spiritual Leaders
As we discuss this, we need to be reminded that the bible speaks of certain people as being the spiritual leaders of a congregation. Limiting ourselves to the Bible we find that those who hold the office of elder, bishop, shepherd, pastor, and any other name used for those qualified according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. From a biblical sense, preachers are not spiritual leaders. This concept has been adopted by the denominations and more and more widely accepted. Many preachers allow themselves to be called pastor or demand they be called the pastor. There is a biblical sense in which all Christians have a duty to lead others in a spiritual way. By encouraging others and setting a good example to our fellow members and to those outside of Christ. We can show them the way of Christ and lead them to salvation through Christ. But even here, it is not appropriate to call them spiritual leaders.
James 3:1 reads: "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment". 1 Peter 4:11 begins "If anyone speak, let them speak as it were the oracles of God..." In other words, the words of God are so important that we must get them right. Paul told the Ephesian elders that he had preached to them the whole counsel of God and did not leave anything out that was profitable. If anyone is to presume to teach others about God, they had better be sure they teach only what God has revealed in His word.
As we know, not everyone respects the Bible as the word of God, and as such there are many who have made themselves teachers, but they are not qualified to teach because they do not teach the truth. God dealt with some false teachers in Ezekiel 34: 1-10. Seems these false shepherds who had the responsibility to teach the truth of God's message failed in teaching it, but also seemed to profit at the expense of the truth. This really paints a picture of many in the denominational world, and sadly even some in the church follow this pattern. But remember that God said: "Woe shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?" (Ezekiel 34:2). Later in Ezekiel 34, we find that God will seek out His sheep and provide them with a True Shepherd. Of course this is a reference to Christ.
Remember that Christ called His followers sheep. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me". (John 10:27). Back in John 10:4 we read: "When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice". Jesus was speaking in terms the people could understand. It was obvious that the sheep only followed their masters voice, and no one else. Jesus was teaching that He was that Master that everyone should hear and follow.
God warned the people to only follow the teaching of the true prophets of God. Yet, time and again, the people decided to follow those prophets who told them what they wanted to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3 says "for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wishing to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers of their own desires". Those teachers who give the people what they want are false teachers and prophets, and God is certainly not pleased with them.
Only follow those who preach the Bible as their source of authority.

[Addendum: This was sent to me by George Hutto, and is worthy of consideration:
"First, please note that false teachers "lead" the faithful away. (2 Pet 3:17; Lk 6:39)
Second, preachers are the very ones who are to instruct & establish elders. (.......)
Yes, they should not be "pastors" as the denominational world knows them. Further, they certainly should not exercise "evangelistic oversight." Overseeing is for elders, as you so well explain. But they provide leadership in the learning/teaching of God's word, and must be considered leaders. The gospel is God's power, and the one who teaches it and lives by it (1 Cor 9) takes a lead."

Very good point, and I thought worthy to be added to this page, Carey]

By Carey Scott

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