The Apostle Paul listed leadership, the one who leads, as a spiritual gift only in Romans 12. It was his second consideration of the way God graces his church with spiritual endowment to accomplish the kingdom assignment entrusted to mere humans. I've personally never thought of the gifts as inanimate objects parceled out to believers in the mystery of God's choice. The gifts of the Spirit are the realization of the Spirit's presence in the life of every authentic Christ follower. They are a manifestation of the Spirit who resides in us. Do the word study on the term translators usually render to "manifestation" (see 1 Corinthians 12:7) to see the "phos-" root, meaning "to shine". For me, spiritual gifts are how the Spirit shines in each of us. He shines in some of us as gifted leaders.
The attitude or approach through which these gifts are used for the equipping and unity of the body is a central feature of the Romans account. To the church at Rome, Paul wrote it this way---
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if
prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who
teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who
contributes, in generosity;
the one who leads, with zeal;
the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Romans 12:6-8, ESV
I've emboldened the type and isolated the sentence about the one who leads just to give it some highlight from the others. It is interesting to note that Paul didn't include "the one who leads" in the other predominate list of spiritual gifts. Was this because Rome was so strategic in the advance of the Gospel, a city with many people who had abused their leadership in some way? That's a subject for another time. The note here is how Paul addressed the manner in which "the one who leads' was to carry out that assignment. Two or three things are apparent----
1. There is no doubt Paul was addressing the topic of spiritual leadership.
His letter was addressed to the church. Chapter 12 was about the functioning
of the church. The list of gifts were specifically about their work as believers in
one body. As a result, "the one who leads" was a leader in the spiritual body, his
2. Paul used a very broad word in defining the manner of the spiritual leader.
It is interesting to note the various ways the Greek term "spoude" (Strong's #
4610) has been translated by the many Bible versions. The ESV indicates "zeal"
while many others have selected "diligence" as the primary thought. Still there
is "seriously", "enthusiastically", "carefulness", "earnest care", and, "energetic
It was painting the role of a spiritual leader with a pretty broad brush. So, give it some meaning.
Anglican Bishop and theologian J.C. Ryle defined "zeal" this way: "Zeal is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. A zealous man is preeminently a man of one thing." Ryle continues with his description:
"A zealous man...sees only one thing, cares about one thing, lives for one thing,
swallowed up in one thing, and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives
or dies, has health or sickness, whether he is rich or poor, pleases people or gives
offense, whether he is thought wise or foolish, gets the blame or the praise,
whether he receives honor or is given shame, he burns for one thing and that one
thing is to please God."
Forgive me, I can't help it. I still see old Curly in City Slickers holding up one finger and talking about one thing. When asked what the one thing was he was profane and pretty much avoided the question by responding with something like, "that's what you'll have to spend your life finding out".
Paul was saying that "the one who leads" should pursue one thing diligently. He should please God. It is a thread that laces through the Epistles, Paul's commitment to please Christ and not mean, the straining for one thing, the pressing on toward one mark. It is to be consumed with pleasing Christ. They young guys say it is to be "all in".
It's a basic of spiritual leadership, the only qualification Paul added to his comments about "the one who leads". And, it is so often missed in a drifting church, leading with zeal, being zealous for pleasing him. We're often zealots for many things, but pleasing him in all things isn't usually one of them.