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March 2014 - Leadership Lessons from Stephen, Phillip, and Barnabas

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Dr. John Kline

Recent columns discussed leadership lessons from Jesus, John the Baptist, and the Apostle John. This month we will consider lessons from three different leaders in the early Church.

Leaders demonstrate courage.  Stephen, one of the first seven deacons in the early Church, demonstrated courage by standing up to the Sanhedrin—seventy men who comprised the supreme judicial and ecclesiastical council of ancient Jerusalem.  Stephen exhibited unwavering moral courage and character by speaking the truth, irrespective of the possible consequences; and for Stephen the consequences were severe. The Sanhedrin exercised its power by driving him from the city where he was subsequently stoned to death.  Leaders cannot succeed without the courage to stand for what they believe.

Leaders motivate, energize, and gain support. Phillip, another of the first deacons, has been described as an “energized evangelist” who was motivated to take the Gospel to Samaria, explain it to the high-ranking Ethiopian official, and spread it on his way to Caesarea.  The fact that Phillip had four daughters noted for the gift of prophecy gives further evidence of his ability to motivate. He motivated at home as well as away.  Leaders must first themselves be motivated, and then they must motivate others.  When followers are motivated, they will support the leader and work to fulfil the mission.

Leaders must be encouragers.  Although his given name was Joseph, he was nicknamed Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”  Without Barnabas, Paul’s ministry would not have occurred.  Barnabas encouraged the apostles to welcome Paul into the fellowship; then he encouraged Paul and accompanied him on his first missionary journey.  Would others label you and encourager or a discourager?   An encourager puts courage into others, a discourager takes it out.  Leaders must encourage others.  Discouraged followers fail; encouraged followers succeed and work to accomplish the task or mission.

Stephen, Phillip, and Barnabas lived 2000 years ago; but the leadership traits they demonstrated are still true today.  Leaders must be courageous, motivating, and encouraging.  

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

March 2014 - Leadership Lessons from Stephen, Phillip, and Barnabas
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