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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Who Leads Your Leaders?

Lily Tomlin had a way with words. She once said this: "Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them." Lily's humorous words remind us of the very serious nature of leadership, and that there is a Grand Canyon-sized gap between good leaders and not so good ones. We need people to lead – people we can safely follow. Whether in politics, athletics, in the army, on a farm, in a family, or in the church — good leadership is vital. Regarding effective spiritual leaders, Hebrews 13:7 refers to spiritual leaders who are worth following — "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct." Space will not allow a detailed analysis of this verse. But study would reveal the leaders referred to in this verse (maybe elders or preachers or elders who preached!) were deceased by the time of writing. The New American Standard Bible makes that clear — "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." No specific names are called, but the congregation being addressed had in the past been blessed with leaders who not only talked the talk but also walked the walk. They didn't just tell people how to get to Heaven–they showed them how. They proved faithful to Christ till they died, and their influence lived on after they died! They had loved the truth and held fast to the Word of God even as they taught and handed the Gospel on to others. They clearly loved the Lord. Once baptized into Christ, they followed Him closely and lived the Christian life so effectively they earned the respect of others. They loved the church, attended her assemblies faithfully, and refused to allow worldly pursuits to cause them to miss worship. They were involved in the church's program of work. They loved the people they led and were deeply involved in their lives. Like Jesus, they carried the cross and led by serving. They didn't just say and do not, and they didn't say, "Do as I say do, not as I do." They lived authentic, transparent Christian lives. They made mistakes, for sure, for not even leaders can live perfectly flawless lives. But they lived committed Christian lives and took seriously Jesus' call to follow Him. Whether elders or preachers or teachers, they were leaders, and they sought to love the Lord and live faithfully for Him so that they could say to those they led (in the words of the great apostle Paul), "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

How do I know all this is true? Read Hebrews 13:7 again. The inspired writer is not just suggesting but directing us to remember godly, committed Christian leaders. And to follow their faith and imitate their conduct! Do you want to go to Heaven? If so, first and foremost, commit to follow in the steps of Him who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). And then follow the faith of spiritual leaders who clearly and closely follow Christ. We will get to Heaven if we follow leaders who are following Christ. Who leads the leaders you are following?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ