The Gift of Government
By Dr. Ray Melugin


The gift of ruling, or government, is mentioned in Romans 12, and I Corinthians 12. Paul urges that "he that ruleth" should do it "with diligence." Though the Holy Spirit guides the church, some believers have been given the gift of leadership. The Greek word for "bishop" means "see" and "over" giving us "overseer." God oversees His work through using those with the gift of government, or leadership.


The Spirit-given ability to preside, govern, plan, organize, and administer with wisdom, fairness, example, humility, service, confidence, ease and efficiency.


I. Not Bosses, But Servants

A. Church leaders are not to seek power.
1. After James and John asked for high positions in the coming kingdom, Jesus said, "to be great, you must be a be chief, you must serve all." (Mark 10:42-44, above paraphrased)

Note: As Christian leadership is to be characterized by slave-service, the words "minister." And "servant," mean "servant," and "slave."

2. Jesus gave us a perfect model. "For the Son of man came to ...minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

a. He humbled Himself to become a slave. (Phillipians 2:7)
b. He performed slave-service by washing the disciples' feet (John 13:15)

3. Names of major church offices denote service.
a. "Deacon" is the word for minister, or servant
b. "Pastor" means shepherd, who serves.
c. "Minister" a title, means servant.

4. Genuine Christian leadership serves, not bosses.

Note: The teaching of the universal priesthood of believers places leader and people on the same level. ( 1 Peter 2:5,9)


II. Not Bosses, But Leaders

A. The gift of governments do exist as part of the Spirit's gift to the church.
1. The Twelve supervised and led in the Early Church. (Acts 4:34-35; 9:27)

Note: They remained in Jerusalem to lead when others scattered (Acts 8:1-4)

2. They advised the election of deacons. (Acts 6:2-3)

B. On Paul's journeys, a consistent policy of church government was established.
1. On his return to Antioch, he and Barnabas "ordained them elders in every church." (Acts 14:23, by that time, believers had matured enough to serve.)

2. Elders were appointed at Ephesus (Acts 20:17)

3. Paul left Titus at Crete to "set things in order...ordain elders in every city..." (Titus 1:5)

Note: Above verse proves there were many churches established during Paul's ministry that are not named in the New Testament.

C. Paul gave Timothy a list of qualifications for church leaders. (I Timothy 3:1-15)
Note: Paul said the elder who ruled well should receive double honor because he does two things: leads and as well teaches. (I Timothy 5:17)

D. A church operating without leadership will hamper the work of the Holy Spirit, Who gives the gift of ruling.
Note: When a church officially has no pastor, it officially has no leader, or unofficially has one or two.

E. Though members are equal, the Holy Spirit does place some over others in the church.
1. As a father "rules" over his family, he is to care for the church. (I Timothy 3:5) (means to stand over, place over, set over, superintend, preside.)

2. The word "government" in I Corinthians 12:28 is related to the word "master" meaning, "helmsman" or steersman."

Note: as a ship needs a pilot or helmsman, a church needs a captain with the gift of piloting.

3. Another word for "government" refers to a "governor," which means "to go before, rule, command, have authority over."
a. as Joseph was "ruler" over all Egypt (Acts 7:10)
b. as certain were "chief" among the apostles. (Acts 15:22)
c. the word is used for church leadership three times in Hebrews 13, verses 7, 17 and 24.


III. The Operation of Leadership

A. Qualifications for Leadership.
1. Most of the demands relate to a fruitful character. (I Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:5-9)

2. He is to be an example to the flock. (I Peter 5:3)

B. Paul equates leadership with labor.
"Know them which labor among you and are over you in the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 5:12)

C. The gift of government runs counter to hierarchical structure.
1. Comes from Christ-like example and humble service, (no pomp, fanfare, etc. excludes being overbearing, stubborn, heady, wanting their own way)

2. The gifts must be accompanied by spiritual grace, or it will breed anarchy.

D. Areas of exercising the gift in church life.
1. Presiding at meetings (someone other than the pastor may know parliamentary procedures better than the pastor)
2. Handling church discipline (I Thessalonians 5:14)
3. Participating on boards such as missions, Sunday School, Christian School, music, visitation, outreach, and other related ministries to each local church.


IV. The Gift of Government involves setting goals for the future.

A. Motivating people
Note: Most organization have two groups: one to do business as usual, the other to try new ways; one preserving, the other prophetic; one conservative, the other creative; one traditional, the other inventive.

B. Executing plans
Note: Contests, campaigns, outreach programs that have started in our generation such as Teen Challenge, Campus Crusade, films, retreats, and other innovative ministries.

C. Reviewing the results
Note: This must always be for ministry to the people, not to manipulate them. If a certain program works, enhance it. If it doesn't, put it back on the shelf and try something else.


The New Testament church of today needs leaders capable of steering the ship safely through rocks and shoals of the future. People with this gift have ability to make plans and launch projects to meet future needs.


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