This lesson hits many fronts: how to identify prospective spiritual leaders, how to make them leaders, and how to be one yourself. Many of us shy away from leadership roles, however. But does being a Christian, in a way, mean we are a leader automatically?

If you have led, or desire to lead, someone to Christ, doesn’t that make you a leader? I think we all had better pay attention to this lesson. What do we see in our leaders that we would make us want to follow them?

One day, I had the unique opportunity of meeting one of our world church leaders, the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. But the sad part was, he had so identified himself with some other church members, that I failed to recognize who he was at the time.

He came to help some college students do community service by cleaning up people’s yards, among other projects. One of the yards they cleaned that day was mine. I thought he was one of the college teachers. He wore the same college T-shirt they all had on. He didn’t stand out at all. As a matter of fact, I believe he was in the group I asked to bag up some smelly grass clippings, a very distasteful job to say the least. But they were all so eager to help in any way.

It wasn’t until a few days later, when I read about it in the newspaper, that I realized just who the man actually was. It was astonishing to me that I didn’t know it at the time. It made me wonder about leadership qualities. Certainly humility and being a servant must be at the top of the list.

Memory text: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” Luke 6:12, 13 NKJV

Two things stand out here:

  • First, prayer should be an essential feature when it comes to choosing our leaders.
  • Second, the fact that Jesus chose these twelve out of a larger group for a special role suggests that church organization and structure is a desired outcome, not something we should shy away from.

Sunday: Leadership Starts Here

One has to wonder why Jesus just picked twelve that day. Usually when one is trying to establish a following, you shoot for more rather than less people to follow you. The more people on your side, the stronger your position becomes. But Jesus chose only twelve to become His most intimate group of followers.

I wonder if the others went away feeling rejected or hurt, or did Jesus assure them that they had duties closer to home. Later Jesus did commission a larger group of seventy-two to go out with a special task, so perhaps we can assume that some of them didn’t felt too disheartened by not being picked that day.

Looking back, we can see that these twelve apostles would end up with large responsibilities in the first Christian church. Therefore, they would need the closest and most intensive training Jesus could give them.

Discussion Question: When was the last time you prayed all night? [Was it the time you were up all night after losing your job, or when a loved one was diagnosed with cancer? It’s usually the crucial times in our lives, isn’t it, that we devote the most time to prayer. This tells us how essential to the ministry of Jesus was the decision of who the twelve disciples would be. Jesus also knew prophetically the supreme sacrifice these disciples would end up paying. Who wouldn’t have prayed heavily about such a decision?]

Monday: Knowledge and Experience, Part 1

Most of us have experienced the disappointing realization that the information we imparted to someone did not result in a transformation of belief or behavior. There must be something more than just passing on information, even truth-filled Bible knowledge, that turns a person around, converts their life to something different.

It’s obvious that the human heart, or mind, cannot be penetrated with knowledge alone. The Spirit has to be present to convince, convict, and guide them to a full acceptance of truth. They have to experience it through their emotions.

But there are some who depend on this emotional experience alone. Let’s also not fall into the trap of embracing the emotional high so much that we neglect the knowledge and truths in the Bible. It takes both to become a fruitful, well-balanced Christian leader.

I like the way our lesson quarterly puts it:

  • “Experience without knowledge becomes a supercharged missile without direction.”
  • “Conversely, knowledge without experience becomes lifeless and oftentimes legalistic.”

Discussion Questions: How does one encourage a balance of experience and knowledge in the Christian life?

Read John 16:7-14. Does Jesus sound more concerned for the disciples’ knowledge or experience in this prayer?

Tuesday: Knowledge and Experience, Part 2

The end result of this combination of knowledge and experience should be unselfish love, because that’s the one qualification a Christian needs in order to become like Jesus.

The twelve disciples needed more than the opportunity to hear from Jesus’ lips the lessons to be learned from the parables He told and the other words of wisdom He was able to share with them. They also needed to be near Him as He ministered to the sick and needy multitudes.


Luke 6:39 says, “…Can the blind lead the blind?…” Jesus knew that these disciples would need a combination of knowledge and experience in order to grow the unselfish love needed to lead people to that same love. He hoped to open their eyes, not just to spiritual truths, but to the needs of the people.

Discussion Questions: Could we be blind to the needs of people, and what are some ways to open our eyes?

Read Luke 6:47-49. An often overlooked question from this parable is what is the foundation that we should build our house upon. Knowledge (hearing his sayings) or experience (doing his sayings)? Or both?

Wednesday: The Early Leaders

The main attribute of God that many think of first is love. Indeed, God is love (I John 4:8). But there is another trait that we must cultivate before we are able to love God or even our fellow man. These verses help us identify this one factor that all God’s leaders and followers must have.

  • “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:3 KJV
  • “Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord God of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee.” Jeremiah 50:31 KJV
  • “…I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15 KJV
  • “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” I Corinthians 9:19 KJV
  • “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3 KJV

When you think about it, pride was the original sin, which leads to hatred. And Lucifer first succumbed to pride, as did our first parents in the Garden of Eden. It was pride–wanting to be equal or better than God that has gotten this planet in trouble.

Discussion Questions: How does being meek or humble sometimes look like weakness in the eyes of the world?

In what ways is being meek different from being a “doormat”?

Thursday: What Jesus Left

Jesus left us with a form of church organization, including those who could implement it, that became very successful in taking Christianity to the world.

When you look at the church leadership at the time, led by the priests and Pharisees, you can’t help but see a stark contrast with the group of disciples Jesus trained for just three short years. They excelled in the areas of:

  • transparency
  • humility
  • dependence on God
  • authenticity

Modern educators have only recently found the benefits of students getting actual work-related experience in their field of study and of having mentors involved in the educational experience. But Jesus knew the importance of real-life ministry projects and mentoring. He sent the disciples out on short mission trips, instructing them beforehand how to conduct themselves.

Discussion Questions: Jesus advice for the disciples before they went out on their own was that:

  1. “Their preparation for the journey was to be of the simplest kind.
  2. Nothing must be allowed to divert their minds from their great work, or in any way excite opposition and close the door for further labor.” The Desire of Ages, p. 351

Is there any relevance in the above advice for us today? How can we implement these instructions in our own lives and how will they enable us to be better disciples?

Summary: The teaching and training of disciples is essential if the work of the church is to continue reaching souls with the gospel.

  • teaching, the understanding of doctrine and theology
  • training, the experience of faith, hardship, and sacrifice in real-life situations

Challenge: Some of the disciples were more well known than others. For instance, James and John were known as “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) and Thomas was considered a doubter (John 20:27).

Task 1: How would you describe yourself in one or two words? If you aren’t comfortable with how others may be seeing you, plan ways to replace these descriptors with more desirable traits.

Task 2: Think of the church leaders you look up to the most. What is it about them that you are attracted to? Are there ways that you could cultivate these same qualities in your life?