written by
Major Tom

Eldership: Biblical Leadership Begins with Sound Doctrine

7 min read

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Alright, so today we're going to start off with the introduction of the foundations of leadership. Now, when you think of the word leadership, you probably right now are imagining a whole slew of requirements and characteristics you're envisioning either as a person or word or feeling. But I am pretty sure sound doctrine is not one of them. But as I'll talk about in the rest of the episode, I believe this is the beginning of an argument that doctrine is the essential, although not sufficient requirement. In fact, it is the foundation to all proper biblical leadership, whether within the church or in the home.

And it is sadly often overlooked. And we'll talk about the repercussions of that throughout this series. So when we get back, we're going to go through a brief overview. We're going to keep picking up this foundational concept over a number of episodes. All right?

So the first notion I want to share is teaching sound doctrine is scriptually, the base requirement for elders, which I'm saying means it's for Biblical leadership. And there doesn't seem to be any way around that. In fact, it's not just the internal knowledge, sound doctrine and the understanding of sound doctrine is an active notion. It is the ability to actually detect improper doctrine and to rebuke it. So there is an active notion.

So let's take a look in Titus One Nine, which is the section where the scriptures really try to elaborate further, specifically around eldership, although I believe many parts of the Bible actually speak to that says he must hold. Firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. So it seems pretty clear and pretty much there's no way to really argue around that. That is an essential element of leadership. So why?

Why is this important? And we'll thread this throughout, but one of those is the counter to doctrine which Jesus talks about is manmade perceptions, thoughts, visions, traditions or commandments. So in Matthew 15 he starts to warn of the Pharisees who hold up traditions higher than the truth in Christ. So he says to them, quoting or paraphrasing, I don't know exactly which, but from Isaiah, these people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

So let's sit with that for a moment because I would argue that in the increasingly secularized church, the commandments, the traditions of men are being taught as doctrines. And that in this context from Isaiah doesn't sound like a particularly good thing. It's in vain do they worship me comma teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. And what are these traditions and commandments of men? Well, we can look at the common sort of teachings around leadership which come from the secular world, which are often absorbed by the Church.

And there's an entire industry around leadership. And I actually think many of those things can be good. They're very helpful to sort of think about improving oneself and one's leadership capability. But let's be clear, those are commandments of men. Those are traditions of men.

And so the moment we start to say we have elected or cultivated or selected leaders who exhibit this, whether it is charisma or commanding presence, they're very faithful, faithful intendants, they're servant leaders, they're seemingly humble in their presentation, they're generous give the list, can go on about what can be manufactured. And many of these are good and legitimate basis for biblical leadership. They certainly can be for secular leadership. But those are still manmade traditions and commandments that are often put in lieu of doctrine. Now I think somebody who has those isn't necessarily a bad leader as long as they're built on a foundation of solid doctrine.

And we'll get into sort of the well, what is doctrine? How much does someone need to demonstrate for a doctrine? And that's getting kind of more and more loose. But we'll get to that later. But I want to lay out the primary argument which is the foundation which is often overlooked, under invested in and definitely under vetted is doctrine.

On top of that can come other, you know, elements which can be first, the first order should be other scriptural elements of how to behave as a leader but it shouldn't be with the absence. Now, when I'm talking about leadership, we're also going to talk about the nature eldership, about husbands. There's going to be a divergence at some point where just focusing on the operations within the church versus what's happening within the marriage. But here there's a good overlap because let's take a look. Husbands themselves are also supposed to effectively teach wives.

The reason for the divergence is you may have a wife who does not want to be taught or there might be a manner of teaching which needs to be specific such that she can be taught. I think those things are worthy of separate examination. But let's just take a look at Ephesians five and we'll come back to this often when we talk about the nature of husband and wife, so referring to husbands that he might sanctify her having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. So the washing of water with the word is a form, it's an illustrative form of the manner but it's still an instruction indoctrine. It's implicit that the person for him to be instructed to wash, to successfully cleanse, someone must properly know the word.

If they did not know the word, mean they did not know proper doctrine than any kind of teaching would not cleanse the wife. So implicit in this is proper understanding of doctrine. But as we're talking about the knowledge of doctrine is not sufficient. There must be effectiveness in the same way for the elder, they must be able to rebuke those who contradict. And this one involves the actual successful cleansing or the active cleansing.

So we see that the foundation must be the Word. Now this feels, or I can imagine this feeling to the secularized church, oh, wow, what about that seems so stodgy to put doctrine as the underlying foundation? What about grace and faith and prayer life? And those are still good things, but I think all those things flow from the Word. Why do I believe they flow from the Word?

Well, let's take a look at John One one he says, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. If the foundation ultimately rests on Christ and all originates with God, therefore the argument that the proper knowledge of the Word should be foremost the only way that it wouldn't, given that passage that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God. The only way I think one can argue it should not be the first class citizen. And the primary foundation is if we believe our leadership is not primarily built upon God. If you believe that's the case, it doesn't seem to be possible to move doctrine, the foundation of doctrine, anywhere other than a first class citizen of first order.

So to me, that's the base part. And we'll talk further about demonstrations, about why this is important and why this is often overlooked in the church and how you as somebody, either as an aspiring leader, as someone who's invest, like sort of investing in leaders or vetting, as someone whose intent can really sort of pierce through the commonly displayed veils to look at that foundation of leadership. So the takeaways all begins with sound doctrine. So let me know what you think. Do you agree?

Do you disagree? Do you have stories in which sound doctrine in its absence, actually proven itself to not be good leadership, although all the other signs were there? Go ahead and let me know. And stay tuned because we're going to continue to pull on this thread in the next number of episodes. Till next time.

See ya.