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Class Notes

LESSON 1 How God Chooses Leaders


rom the time that God chose a people to live for him and serve him, he has provided leadership for his people. In order to understand the role of the leader of the church in the 21st Century, we need to understand how God’s people have been led in the past. Scriptures give us many examples of both good and bad leaders. A good leader is one who leads people in God’s way and a bad leader is one who leads people away from God. In this lesson we will study several leaders of the Old Testament to understand why God chose them. You will see that God chose many different kinds of people, each with his own unique personality and abilities, to lead his people. Goals of this Lesson: •

To discover how God chooses leaders.

To discover the character qualities God desires in a leader.

To learn to deal with feelings of inadequacy.

To evaluate the trainee’s own life in view of the qualities of a godly leader.

When God Chooses a Leader Down through Israel’s history, as recorded in the Old Testament, we observe that sometimes God chose the leaders and sometimes the people chose the leaders. When God chose the leader, they were generally good leaders, godly people who led the people in God’s way. When the people chose the leader, sometimes they were godly people and sometimes they were very ungodly and led people into idolatry and other sins.


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Israel’s best times were when they recognized as their leader the person that God had chosen: Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, and others. This is still true today. Unfortunately in our democratic mind-set, we think we have the right to choose our leaders. After all it’s our inalienable right guaranteed by the Constitution! But when it comes to God’s work, the church needs to be sensitive to God’s leading so that we recognize those leaders that God has chosen. But what is the basis for God to choose a leader? Samuel learned a valuable lesson when he was sent to anoint a new king. Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13. 1. Who chose Israel’s next king, God or Samuel? 2. What was Samuel’s criterion for selecting a king? 3. What was God’s criterion for selecting a king? (v. 7) 4. In contrast, look at the selection of Saul in I Samuel 9:1, 2. What was the criterion for his being selected as king? God does not choose people on the basis of outward characteristics: physical appearance, skills, talents, or natural leadership abilities. In fact some of the leaders God chose lacked many of these things and were well aware of their shortcomings. They felt totally inadequate for the task God called them to do. We’ll see that later in the lesson. The bottom line is that God chose people by looking at their heart, that is, their character. At the time that God chose these people, many times the character trait was not apparent, but God, who sees all things, knew what that person could become because the core values were there. In Romans 9:13, Paul quotes from Malachi 1:2-3, which makes a strange statement. Look up this reference. 5. Whom did God love?

Whom did God hate?

We usually say that God loves everyone. Yet here we have God’s declaration to the contrary. However, as you study the story of these dissimilar twin brothers, we see that even before they were born that one twin was destined by God to be the blessed one, even though it was contrary to tradition. Look at Genesis 25:21-26.


Class Notes

Lesson 1 – How God Chooses Leaders

6. What was prophesied about these twins before they were born?

Class Notes

7. Who was the younger? God made this choice, not on the basis of what they had done, because they hadn’t even been born yet. He chose on the basis of “seeds” of character that would in time be developed and revealed. As you read the rest of that story of Jacob and Esau, it becomes apparent that Esau has little appreciation of spiritual values, but rather, lived for the moment, to satisfy his physical appetites. Whereas Jacob, though he was a scheming, lying, conniving person, had something that God appreciated—strength of character and an appreciation of spiritual values. Let’s look at various characters that God chose to lead His people, and the character qualities that stand out. These people were chosen, not for their innate abilities, leadership skills, piety, or righteousness. They all had flaws, but they also had certain qualities of character that God was looking for. After choosing them and working with them to develop the qualities He desired, He also gave them the ability to lead His people.

Abraham, the Patriarch The beginning of the story of God’s choosing a people begins with Abraham. Though God promised to make him a great nation, during Abraham’s lifetime the “nation” was his family. Read Genesis 18:1719. 8. Why did God choose Abraham? 9. What was Abraham’s role to be as a leader? We call Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob “patriarchs.” Though this word has come to mean an aged, venerable person, the root word means “a father who rules or leads.” These men led their people as a father figure, setting the example and instructing people in the “way of the Lord.” What was that quality of character that God saw in Abraham, so that he said to Himself, “That’s the man I choose!”? Read the simple statement in Genesis 15:6. 10. Why did God love Abraham, and choose him?


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Notice that the text does not say, “Abraham believed in God.” Many people today believe in God, that is they believe that He exists, is supreme, is loving, all-knowing, eternal, etc. But Abraham “believed God,” that is, he believed what God said, without questioning the reasonableness of what God had to say to him. This pleases God. Faithfulness, which means being “full of faith,” became the “trademark” of Abraham’s life. God was willing to make some enormous promises to Abraham, some of them totally beyond human comprehension. Paul makes some interesting observations on Abraham’s faith and gives us a key to his being such a man of faith. Read Romans 4:18-22. 11. Was Abraham’s faith merely wishful thinking, like “believe it and it will happen”? 12. What was the basis for Abraham’s faith? (see vv. 20-21) God is still looking for people who are full of faith, people who are willing to believe Him, regardless of how big the promise or how hard the problem. Notice the warning in James 1:6-8. 13. How does God perceive the person who does not have faith, but doubts?

Personal application: Would you want to follow someone who is like the person described in James 1:6-8? Why or why not?

Would you be willing to follow a person who is faithful (full of faith)? Why?

If you want to be a leader of God’s people, you need to have this quality of character. How could you develop faithfulness in your life?


Class Notes

Lesson 1 – How God Chooses Leaders

Joseph, the Administrator

Class Notes

Joseph was Abraham’s great grandson. He seems to have been a born leader, even though he was the eleventh of twelve sons. His brothers were jealous of his abilities and resented their “little brother” pointing out their faults and trying to give them leadership. Though people kept trying to put Joseph down, he kept rising to the top. His brothers rejected his leadership and sold him into slavery. As a slave in Potiphar’s household, he worked his way to the top and was made the chief steward, in charge of the whole household. Then Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him, and he was sent to prison, where he again his abilities were noticed and he became the most trusted inmate. You know the story, he was finally recognized by the Pharaoh, and became the chief administrator of the most powerful nation on earth. Throughout this story we see a phrase repeated time after time. Read Genesis 39. 14. What does this passage repeat about Joseph’s relationship with God?

Why was the Lord with Joseph? Why did God keep His hand on this young man, and choose him to save Egypt and Abraham’s descendants from a famine? The secret of Joseph’s character is found in the story of when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife. Read Genesis 39:6b-12. 15. How did Joseph reply to his master’s wife’s proposition? 16. What was Joseph most concerned about? ‰ his relationship to the woman. ‰ his relationship to his master. ‰ his relationship to God. Joseph’s character can be summed up in this, his personal integrity before God. Though he knew full well that the woman would accuse him falsely, he was willing to risk the loss of position and prestige, his master’s wrath, and even his life (the usual penalty for attempted rape of a free person by a slave was death), but he refused to compromise his integrity and sin against God. Though he became powerful and had the opportunity to avenge himself of all the wrong that had been done to him, Joseph never took that opportunity. He not only forgave his brothers, but also treated them with great kindness, caring for their needs. Joseph realized that he dare not jeopardize his personal standing before God for the trivial satisfaction of


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seeing those who had made him suffer, suffer as well. Personal integrity― loving God’s kind of righteousness—was the most important value in Joseph’s life. Personal application: Would you be willing to follow a leader like Joseph, who you can trust to do what is right, even at the risk of personal loss? Are you willing to be that kind of leader as well, one whom people can trust because his/her motives are pure and steadfast toward God?

Moses, Man of God We know little of the life of Abraham’s descendants during the time they lived in Egypt, except that they grew to be a large people group. In order to fulfill His promises to Abraham, God needed to take them out of Egypt and give them a national identity, which was not an easy task. The leader that God selected to lead His people out of Egypt was Moses. But why was Moses chosen? When God chose him to lead His people, Moses was a nobody. He had already tried to lead the people and his leadership had been rejected. He killed a man and became a fugitive, and for forty years he took care of his father-in-law’s sheep. He even seemed content with this rural life, out of the spotlight. Read Exodus 3 and 4. God felt that Moses was ready to be a leader, but Moses didn’t think so. Notice Moses’ reaction to God’s call to be the leader. Moses asked two questions. 17. What is the first question? (Exodus 3:11) What did Moses mean by this question? 18. Why did Moses feel inadequate for the task? (see Exodus 2:11-14) 19. What was God’s reply? (Exodus 3:12)


Class Notes

Lesson 1 – How God Chooses Leaders

Moses still was not convinced. He had a nagging question that he had thought about for forty years.

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20. What was Moses’ second question? (Exodus 3:13) 21. How does this question relate to the question that someone asked Moses in Exodus 2:14? 22. How did God respond to Moses’ second question? Before Moses was willing to lead God’s people he needed to answer, for his own peace of mind, these two questions: who am I? and who are You? Every leader of God’s people needs to ask these questions and needs to find the answer. Leading God’s people can be so difficult that a person always needs to keep the answers to these two questions in mind: I am nobody, but God is with me, and He is the great I AM. This is the beginning of learning to depend totally on God, because the work is too great for any human being to do by himself. 23. What did Jesus tell his disciples about doing his work, as found in John 15:5? God did not choose Moses to lead his people because he was upright (he was a murder), a proven leader (his leadership had been rejected), or he was a great communicator (he stammered). God chose him because he had a great quality of character. Read Numbers 12:3. 24. What was Moses’ greatest character quality? In today’s world, leaders are not chosen because of their humility or meekness. Would today’s society choose a president because of these qualities? But God really appreciates this particular quality of character. Humility or meekness is perceived today as weakness. Our society wants someone in leadership who is assertive or even aggressive, a “take charge” kind of person. Moses was not at all a weak person. Many times he faced down the whole nation, and by sheer will power kept them from returning to


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Egypt. He put up with their complaining, suffered their abuse, and even interceded for the people when they had sinned, being willing to be annihilated along with them (Ex. 32:31-32). Why, then, was Moses considered so humble and meek? Go back to Numbers 12. 25. What crisis was Moses facing? 26. How did Moses react to the accusation of his own siblings? Here we find the true secret of Moses’ greatness. He never defended his position as God’s chosen leader. Moses’ ministry was one leadership crisis after another. The question “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” (Exodus 2:14) kept popping up time after time. Pharaoh questioned Moses’ authority to lead; Korah and company questioned his right to lead (Num. 16), and so did his own siblings, not to mention the many times that the people themselves questioned Moses’ authority. Moses never defended himself, because he had settled the answer to the questions in his own mind. He knew who he was (a nobody), and he knew the great I AM was with him. He allowed God to defend his position as leader of the Israelite people. Personal application: As a leader of God’s people you need to get answers to those same two questions: Who am I? Who has called me to do this work? Once those two matters are settled, then with humility (knowing that you are nothing and that the Almighty God is with you) you can serve the Lord and His people. As in Moses’ day, the people may not appreciate you as a leader. They may question your ability to lead, and complain about you. Do not “lose your cool,” but serve with humility. Actually Moses did “lose his cool” and it cost him dearly. Read Numbers 20:1-13. 27. What was the crisis in this episode? 28. How did Moses react to their rebellion? Moses lost his temper. He tried to take credit for getting water out of the rock (v. 10). He struck it, apparently, in anger.


Class Notes

Lesson 1 – How God Chooses Leaders

29. What was Moses’ punishment for his lack of humility and meekness?

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Psalm 106:32-33 comments on this incident. 30. What was Moses’ sin in this passage? Moses did not lose his position of leadership, nor did he lose his eternal reward, but Moses lost a very precious reward—the privilege of entering the Promised Land, all because he temporarily lost his humility and began to defend his position as leader. Personal application: Would you follow a person who is humble and meek? Read Matthew 11:28-30. What do we need to learn in order to be Christlike?

Gideon, a Mighty Warrior We could have chosen Joshua as an example of a leader of God’s people. He was courageous, upright, and steadfast. But Gideon is easier for us to identify with. He was not a born leader, did not have a great deal of natural talent or even many resources. However, he was a person who became what God wanted him to become and led Israel to great victory. Turn to Judges 6:11-7:25. 31. How does the angel of the Lord address Gideon in 6:12? 32. What in Gideon’s activity at the time indicates he is not a “mighty warrior”? 33. What were his feelings of inadequacy? 34. How does the Angel of the Lord answer his excuses?


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Though by nature Gideon is cautious, (cowardly is probably a more appropriate term) and lacking in self-confidence and leadership skills, God sees in him what he can become: a courageous warrior. In reality, Gideon becomes an example of a person who learned to rely wholly on God and submit to His will, even when it didn’t make sense to do so. 35. What was the first thing that the Angel of the Lord commanded Gideon to do (Judges 6:25-32)? Why is this important? Was it risky? Toward the end of Judges 6, Gideon asks God for signs of His presence. His courage and his faith were still weak. God grants him his request through the fleece in order to strengthen his faith. Spiritual courage is based on faith in God’s ability to do what He promised. In Judges 7, we have the story how Gideon was instructed to “weed out” his troops. Gideon was left with less than 1 per cent of his original army. This did not seem to bother him, because he had learned to depend on God for deliverance, not on his own resources, skill or ability. Personal application: Would you be willing to follow a person who is willing to trust God, even when the human and material resources seem terribly inadequate? Are you willing to be that kind of leader also?

David, the King Our last example of godly leadership is King David. David was courageous, a born leader, with a winsome personality. He was a “people person.” But that’s not why God chose him. Read 1 Samuel 13:14. 36. What kind of a person did Samuel tell Saul that God would choose?


Class Notes

Lesson 1 – How God Chooses Leaders

37. In Acts 13:22, Paul cites this same phrase. What did being a man after God’s own heart entail?

Class Notes

Perhaps it could be said that being a person “after God’s own heart” means a person whose heart beats in rhythm with God’s heart. He sees things like God sees them, feels what God feels, understands God’s will and seeks to do it. This is why David wrote so many deeply moving psalms, which are expressions of one who knows God intimately and seeks to know him better. 38. David’s attitude toward God could be summed up in Jesus’ words. Who did Jesus say would be happy (blessed), in Matthew 5:6? It is true that David sinned. Adultery and murder were a blot on his character and on his kingship. However, when he was confronted with his sin by the prophet, Nathan, he repented and sought God’s forgiveness with a broken heart because he realized how grieved God was at his sin. Read Psalm 51, which is David’s prayer asking for forgiveness. He realizes what God is looking for in his heart. 39. What did the Law demand in order to receive forgiveness? (v. 16) 40. Because his heart understood God’s heart, what did David realize that God was looking for? a. v. 6 b. v. 10 c. v. 17 David was a great leader of God’s people, not because of his leadership skills, his courage, his administrative ability or natural charm, but because his heart understood God’s heart. Personal application: What do you crave? Do you crave power, prestige, authority, or recognition? Or do you hunger and thirst for righteousness—to have a heart that beats in rhythm with God’s heart?


Preparing to Lead God’s People

We could study many other people in the Old Testament whom God chose for their strength of character: Samuel, an example of obedience; Elijah, a man of unusual courage; Jeremiah, a prophet with a gentle spirit, or Daniel, a man of great wisdom and uncompromising integrity. We don’t have time in this lesson to explore all of them. The point of all this is that God chooses people on the basis of character, not natural ability or outward appearance. To be God’s chosen leader, you need to be faithful, upright, humble, dependent on God, and above all, you need to hunger and thirst for more of Him. You may feel inadequate and imperfect, unqualified, and unworthy. Allow God to mould His character in you. This character will develop in you through time and trials: •

Abraham wandered around Canaan for much of his life wondering when God would fulfill his promises. Abraham was full of faith.

Joseph went through slavery and prison before he was able to “save” God’s people. He was a man of great personal integrity.

Moses took care of sheep for 40 years before God entrusted him to lead Israel. He knew he was nobody, but the Almighty I AM was with him.

Gideon learned to depend on God in small things before he could depend on God for great things.

David spent years learning to lead people, and understanding of what moves God’s heart.

The first step to learning to lead God’s people is learning to follow God wholeheartedly.


Class Notes

Lesson 1