The Work of a Leader According to Paul

I have been contemplating this description of leadership that the Apostle Paul gave to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 4:12).

Leaders are given for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain the unity of faith and of knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

We may need a little translation for our understanding for our growth as leaders.

“For the equipping of the saints.” By saints, Paul meant the people in the church–specifically believers. Very interesting thought–and it is listed first. What does that teach us about leading?

There are people we lead. Our first job is to equip them for success. We must provide training, tools, support. A key question a leader can ask of someone in the group is, “How can I help you?” I translated that in some jobs I’ve had as, “I have access to resources. Can any of those help you do your work successfully?”

“For the work of the ministry.” The group you are leading has a goal, a focus, a desired end result. We have work to do, otherwise why exist. So we are to equip others so that we can do the work that is set before us.

“For building up the body of Christ.” The body of Christ is the church–the organization. Our task is to strengthen and grow the organization. How? By equipping the people to focus on the work. As we focus on the work, we need unity of purpose. We need to be of one mind on the work. A strong and growing organization harbors no senseless arguing (see other writings of Paul). The leader assures that everyone know what the task of the organization is and is committed to its accomplishment.

The last part reads like Paul thought that the end result is actually the growth and maturity of the people in the group. We don’t work just to pass the time. We work on a specific task. But while working on the task, what we are really working on is ourselves. We mature and come to greater understanding.

In the end, the leader leads people to their own growth. A true leader breeds more leaders.

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