Servanthood or Leadership (5):
Heb 12: 1-13
By Rev Dr Hwa Yung
Four preceding sermons
• What does the Bible say—Leadership or
• Submission—the source of spiritual authority
• The centrality of character in the Christian life
• God’s determination to transform us
• Two more sermons needed on this theme.
But they are actually Part 1 & 2 of one
• The first one will focus on what spiritual
authority is and how it is seen in the life of
Christ and ours.
• The second will focus on how we can grow in
the exercise of spiritual authority.
ii. The difference between executive authority, i.e.
authority that comes from office or position, and
a. Those who emphasize leadership a lot tend to be
speaking largely in terms of the needs of human
organizations and/or movements. E.g.
• Management books deal with the needs of
institutions and organizations
• The same applies to those who talk about
“leadership” in churches. They are thinking of
the role of bishops, presidents, mega-church
pastors, and so on.
b. Human organizations/movements will
always need leaders because we are
social animals. Without leaders, there
will be social chaos!
Note: I am not saying that there is no
need for leaders. I am simply
reminding us that striving for
leadership is NOT what the Bible
This is most clearly seen in the story of
• v. 40 reminds us that it is God who calls
different people into different positions
in the work of His Kingdom.
• v.42: To strive for positions is something
that is completely wrong because it is to
follow the spirit of the world around
where self-seeking ambition and the
enjoyment and corruption of power
• vv.43: Our primary calling is to be
servants, like our Lord
c. To strive to be a servant does not mean we
do not take leadership positions.
If that is God’s calling, even when we do
not want it, we must accept it and do our
best in that position.
Cf. St. Augustine
2. Servanthood and Authority
What is crucial is not whether we are a leader in
the eyes of the world. What is important is
whether our lives and ministries show forth the
authority of Christ!
i. The authority of a servant
• You do not need to be a leader to have authority!
• A servant has authority. (Explain)
• We have been delegated with certain tasks by
our Master. In doing that job we have the
Master’s authority. This is where most Christians
i. The authority of a servant (Continue)
Point: We are NOT speaking of the executive
authority of a leader with position or office. We
are speaking of the authority of a servant given
to us by our Master!
This is what is meant by spiritual authority
ii. What is spiritual authority?
It is the authority given to us by our Lord
Jesus to preach the gospel, to do works of
ministry, and to advance the Kingdom of
Cf. Mat 28:18; Acts 1:8; Rev 2:26
iii. We see this authority in Jesus’ life and ministry
Cf. Jesus authority in Matthew’s gospel
4:1-11 Authority over Satan
Authority over men and women
4:23-25 Authority in ministry
(teaching, healing, exorcism, etc.)
Authority in teaching, esp. 7:28f
(Sermon on the Mount)
(Manifestation of His authority)
Healing by touch
8:5-13 Healing at a distance
Authority over nature
10: 1, 7-8 Disciples given authority
3. Authority in the Church Today
i. What is needed is real spiritual authority in
the church today!
• The church often seems powerless in face of
evil and suffering in the world around us.
• George Verwer’s parody of “Onward Christian
Backward Christian soldiers, fleeing from the fight,
With the cross of Jesus, nearly out of sight!
Christ our rightful Master, stands against the foe,
But forward into battle, we are loath to go.
Like a mighty tortoise, moves the Church of God;
Brothers, we are treading, where we've often trod.
We are much divided, many bodies we,
Having different doctrines, not much charity.
Crowns and thorns may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the Church of Jesus, hidden does remain.
Gates of hell should never, 'gainst the Church prevail,
We have Christ's own promise, but think that it will fail.
Sit here, then, ye people, join our useless throng;
Blend with ours, your voices, in a feeble song.
Blessings, ease and comfort, ask from Christ the King.
With our modern thinking, we don't do a thing!
ii. Examples of spiritual authority: Some
We don’t have always to look at western examples.
• Examples in OT and NT
• Malaysia: Pak Agong, Bakelalan
• China: John Sung
• Africa: Prophet Harris
iii. Spiritual authority is not limited to
• Sunday school teacher or youth worker
• A godly pastor who disciples and mentors
many over 30-40 years; cf. Barnabas
• Hidden prayer intercessors—Where are they?
• Hospitality (Kilners)
i. Is there spiritual authority in your life?
ii. What is God’s calling for you?