Hearing the Word
Christian Leadership Implications from Galatians
From selected verses in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we may formulate implications for Christian leaders. We bear in mind that Christian leadership is spiritual authority joined to ministry. Christian leadership, following Jesus’ modeling, is an authoritative, sensitive response to human need.
1. Leaders, while not disregarding their fellow leaders, do not find in them the roots for their convictions. There is an immediacy to truth: the gospel “came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:12). Fellow leaders serve as check points on procedure, however (2:1-2).
2. Leaders are obligated to confront each other on matters of basic inconsistency. Paul models such confrontation when he rebukes Peter, not on peripheral issues of mannerism, taste, or practices but on issues of fundamental importance to the Christian way (2:11-13).
3. Leaders are obligated to discern and judge those who in their teaching distort the Christian way. On certain issues one does not back down before anyone. Among these are issues that touch on the saving work of Jesus Christ (3:1; 5:7-8).
4. Leaders encourage people to become excited about projects that are other than self-centered. Leaders have the task of discipling toward Christ. An individual’s faith is not to be gauged by his enthusiasm for a leader’s particular project. Provided the purpose is good, it is not grudging permission that the leader gives but full, open-hearted approval (4:17-18).
5. Leaders enter an interdependent relationship with those whom they serve. He who ministers the word experiences his dependence on others, and that not only in the area of finances (6:6).
6. Leaders may never use their leadership as a means of bringing believers into a new bondage. Programs can be shackling too. When requirements are made for the sake of the leader or the institution, and not for the sake of the believer, then leaders exercise control rather than authority, and people are put into bondage (5:1, 13).