There are different roles of leadership in the body of Christ. People often think that ministry training is about being instructed in the ways of ministry, but mere instruction alone will only inform us of what to do. It will not cause us to become who we need to become. We cannot change the lives of others merely by what we know. We can only change the world by who we are and what we have become in Christ. It is not what we know that empowers us for ministry. It is who we have become in the substance of Christ. To become the substance of something involves being transformed to become something. The apostle Paul understood this truth when he wrote to the church of Corinth. He considered them to be a spiritual letter of truth that was first written in his own heart and then written in both the individual and corporate expressions of the church. This is how he viewed his responsibility to the church in Corinth. This is how Paul saw his role of apostolic leadership and the role of leadership of others towards the church.
2 Corinthians 3:1-3 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
Paul understood that his role to the Corinthian church was not one of instruction. It was one of bringing transformation to the lives of the people he had been sent to. His mind was fixed on being a minister of the Spirit and not a minister of the word alone. He knew that the Spirit of God was the source of any and every testimony in the lives of people alone and people joined together for God’s glory in the earth. Paul accepted his role as a spiritual father in bringing this to pass.
1 Corinthians 4:15, 16 …for though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
There is a place for instructors, but there is an essential need for fathers in the church. Paul knew that his role as a leader was not to bring instruction to those God sent him to. His role was one of representing God as the Father of all that is born of Him. Paul’s own relationship with Timothy was one of being a spiritual father. No man is the Father, just like no man is the Pastor or Shepherd of the church. God is the Father and Jesus is the Shepherd of human souls, but men give the expressions of God a physical form that can be seen, heard, touched, and handled by men. Their physical form must come in agreement with the ministry of the Spirit in order to see the inheritance of God manifested in the earth. It is not the inheritance of men that we seek. It is seeing men and women standing as the inheritance of God that we seek to attain (Eph. 1:18). Paul understood his role as one of being used by God to serve in bringing about God’s transformation power to those divinely joined to him for God’s purpose and glory in the earth. This is why Paul could use great confidence in expecting others to receive his spiritual son Timothy. He didn’t send Timothy to those in his sphere of responsibility because of his gifting of ministry, anointing, or informative message. He sent Timothy, because Timothy was something of the substance of Paul. He was something of the substance of the spiritual inheritance entrusted to Paul by God. This is an essential role of spiritual leadership in the Church.
We are not leaders because of the information we know. We are leaders because of the substance of Christ entrusted to our destiny. We are leaders for the sake of others, thus we must become the substance of that for which we lead. We must be the first to be transformed by God in order to carry the substance of that transformation power to the lives of those God sends us to. We need more fathers and mothers and less instructors in the body of Christ.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson