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The Holy Spirit & Church Leadership


I am often asked about the role the Holy Spirit plays in church leadership. First, we need to remember that Jesus spent much time in prayer before choosing the 12 apostles. Paul and the early church leaders prayed before making final selection of those whom they appointed to serve as elders. Through prayer, they sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Luke 6:12-13, Acts 6:6, 14:23). The actual appointing was done by means of a symbolic act of the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). In fact, this is consistent with the pattern of God’s work throughout the Bible.


The Holy Spirit strives with sinners (Genesis 6:3), which is perhaps related to His work in convicting people of sin (John 16:8-11). This is a creative way of challenging us to open our eyes to God’s will in our lives. Remember the Holy Spirit came upon certain judges, warriors, and prophets in a way that gave them extraordinary power: for example, Joshua (Numbers 27:18), Othniel (Judges 3:10), Gideon (Judges 6:34), Samson (Judges 13:25, 14:6), and King Saul (I Samuel 10:9-10). However, the Spirit later departed from Saul because of his disobedience (I Samuel 16:14). It would make sense that the Holy Spirit keeps striving within us until we refuse to follow God’s will.


The Spirit played a prominent role in the long span of Old Testament prophecy. David declared that “the Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (II Samuel 23:2). Likewise, Ezekiel reported that “the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me” (Ezekiel 2:2). John says something similar in Revelation 1:10 and repeats it throughout his apocalyptic message. One major benefit to having the Holy Spirit present in these events is that it inspired holiness in believers (Psalm 143:10). The Old Testament scriptures promised that someday God would put His Spirit in His people in a way that would cause them to live according to His statutes (Ezekiel 36:27, Joel 2:28-32).


The Holy Spirit was crucial in helping God’s people anticipate the ministry of the Messiah. For example, Isaiah 11:1–5 is a trinitarian preview of the working of the Father, the Spirit, and the Son, who is the Branch of Jesse (Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7, Isaiah 6:8, 42:1, 48:16, Psalm 45:6-7, 110:1). Looking forward to the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to prophesy: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (Isaiah 11:2), inspiring God’s Chosen One with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, righteousness, and faithfulness. Thus we come full cycle to the New Testament, where Jesus is clearly seen fulfilling this prophecy (Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19).


The significance of Acts 20:28 cannot be overstated: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” We honor our church leaders who are both led by God and chosen to lead others. Paul’s letters also reveal the work of the Holy Spirit in teachers, ministers and various other church leaders (I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus). Let’s lift up our leaders and honor them. Have a great week!


You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds



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