Pastor Scott Andrews | February 27, 2022
What is leadership? Given national and global challenges, we could certainly do with a little refresher. Kevin Kruse, CEO of Leadx and author of many books on leadership, wrote an article on the subject in Forbes Magazine. Kruse started by suggesting what leadership is not:
- Leadership has nothing to do with seniority or one’s position in the hierarchy of a company. I suppose that has more to do with being the boss. But you can be higher in the organizational chart, and not be a leader. We’ve all had poor bosses who were not leaders.
- Leadership has nothing to do with titles. It doesn’t matter what your business card says or where you fall on the org chart. Similar to the previous one, Kruse says you don’t even need a title to be a leader.
- Leadership has nothing to do with personal attributes. So, all those personality tests (Meyers-Briggs, DISC, Strength Finders, the Enneagram) may be helpful, albeit non-scientific and merely faddish, but they don’t identify leaders.
- Leadership isn’t management. Managers may be proficient at managing staff, but it doesn’t make him/her a leader. Management may or may not be part of leadership. Again, you don’t have to be a manager to be a leader.
Kruse then goes on to give several definitions of leadership by supposed experts in the field – experts either by education or practice or public acclaim. They’re names you know – may even attended their seminars:
Peter Drucker says, “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” Wow – it’s that easy? What if he leads those followers poorly – would you call him a leader? Maybe we should differentiate between good and poor leadership. Kruse may be too hard on Drucker – Drucker is the one who said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Warren Bennis, widely regarded as the founder of the field of leadership studies, says, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Again, at what cost? Kruse suggests this definition forgets people, that is, those being led.
Bill Gates says, “As we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” There’s the people part, but, to do what? To what end? It does seem like there needs to be a common vision or a goal.
John Maxwell, a big name among evangelicals, says, “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” But again, an influence for good or for evil? Kruse suggest this definition is also too simplistic.
Kruse then gives his own definition, “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the effects of others, toward the achievement of a goal.”
Not bad. It seems to have all the necessary ingredients – influence, others, a goal. Of course, I guess we could then say Stalin, Hitler, Putin are leaders – this maximizing the effects of others toward the achievement of a goal. Get your bigger, badder and stronger country to overrun a weaker and smaller neighbor – I guess you’re a leader. Not a good one.
So again, I suppose we should differentiate between good and bad leaders. There are books, conferences, seminars and classes by the thousands on leadership. Google the word, and you’ll get about 3 billion hits. I have many books in my library on pastoral leadership. The truth is, there is so much on leadership, it can be confusing. But as I considered some of those billions of hits and charts and books I have, the qualities of good leadership seem to boil down to:
- Communication/Approachable/Good Listener
- Creative/Positive – and energetic
- Decisive/Collaborative/Able to Delegate
Again, that’s an over-simplified list, but those qualities seem to be on most lists. But what about poor leadership? There were lots of lists, and I suppose they would be the opposite:
- Poor Communication/Unapproachable
- Close-minded/Indecisive/“My Way or the Highway”
Of course, that’s just a few of the negative qualities – perhaps you’re thinking of your own authority – boss, teacher, professor, supervisor, parent – and your list is much longer. All this made me think of church leadership. We recently studied the characteristics of elders in Titus 1:
- Above Reproach – that is, honesty and integrity
- Husband of one Wife – committed
- Not accused of dissipation or rebellion
- Not self-willed (that is, self-centered), quick-tempered, addicted to wine, combative
- Not fond of sordid gain – that is, not greedy
- Hospitable, loving, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled – all toward others
There are a lot of similar qualities in the contemporary books on good leadership – Paul could have written a best seller today. Oh, that’s right, he did. He could have made millions, if he was in it for the money.
All that brings us to our continuing study in Jude. Why all this talk about leadership? Because, we have found false believers had infiltrated the churches. Jude writes to warn them – to tell them to earnestly contend for the faith – in one sense, by battling these false believers and not giving into their licentious lifestyles. Today, we’ll find they were also false teachers, and false shepherds – with many qualities of poor leadership. In fact, I would say this. If you find yourself in a church with leaders like these in Jude – run.
Jude has compared these men to three Old Testament groups – unbelieving Israelites, fallen angels, and the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember, because of their rebellion, destruction came. The unbelieving Israelites fell in the desert and never made it to the land of promise. The fallen angels have been kept in eternal bonds for judgment and eternal fire. The wicked inhabitants of Sodom faced the immediate fires of judgment and will also face eternal fire.
Jude then listed three Old Testament men who rebelled and faced judgment. Cain, who rebelled against God’s prescribed way of salvation and thus became the archetype of sin – choosing wickedness over goodness. Balaam, who for pay – greed – sold the Israelites into sexual immorality. Korah, who rebelled against God’s leadership – he was arrogant and self-focused. Remember, Cain was cursed, Balaam was killed by the sword, and Korah was consumed by fire.
The point has been, rebellion brings certain judgment and ultimate destruction. These have not been easy words to read, nor easy sermons to preach. And Jude is not finished. He now applies these three rebellious men to these false teachers. Read the text with me, Jude 11-16.
Jude has written a book exposing poor leadership. Only this leadership is in the church, seeking to destroy it. Therefore, judgment and destruction await. Our outline is the same as last week:
- Three More Old Testament Examples and Their Application (11-13)
- The Prophecy of Enoch and Its Application (14-16)
We begin, then, with application of these OT examples to these false believers, who we find are false teachers, false shepherds. In verses 12-13, Jude makes five statements, including some from nature which cover about all of creation – water to land to sky to the heavens. Look at them with me.
First, these men are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring only for themselves, just like Cain, Balaam and Korah. These hidden reefs referred to submerged rocks which posed a serious threat to passing ships. You see – the danger was lurking beneath the surface, not readily seen. But, they would do much damage. Do you see – we’ve got to be on the alert – on the lookout for this kind of danger in the church. Jude was, in a sense, acting as lighthouse, warning his readers of the dangers their faith faced.
These men attended their love feasts, feasting without fear. In the early church, Christians met regularly to share a meal, and to observe the Lord’s Supper. This became known as the love feast. In that culture, there was no middle class – you were either very rich or very poor. But it didn’t matter – they were family. The rich would bring the much they had; the poor would bring the little they had. It would be shared with the Christian family, culminating in the Lord’s Supper, which was the reminder how and why they were family. What a powerful testimony that would have been to the unbelieving world.
We did that together before Covid – we’d get together on the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving for a common meal, ending with Communion. I miss those – maybe we should do it again this year – expressing mutual love and care as a family, remembering what made us so.
Well, it wasn’t long, at least in Corinth, where those love feasts deteriorated into terrible abuses. We read about that in I Corinthians 11. The feasts had actually become drunken revelries, with a distinction made between rich and poor. The rich would come early, eat and drink before the poor arrived. Divisions arose. That which was intended to be symbol of their unity had actually become the opposite.
It’s possible these same kinds of abuses were happening at the church to which Jude wrote. We do know, these false believers were only concerned for themselves. Verse 19 will speak of the divisions they caused. True Christian maturity produces godly unity – not division.
These men cared only for themselves. The word cared is the word shepherd. This is again likely a reference to the way they saw themselves – as shepherds, leaders in the church. But the truth is, they only shepherded, cared for themselves – and they were leading the sheep astray. They were like the shepherds of Ezekiel’s day, of whom Ezekiel said,
1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying,
2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?
3 “You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.
4 “Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.
5 “They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered.
6 “My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.” ’ ”
7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
8 “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock;
9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.” ’ ”
I read that whole text for three reasons. First, it is undoubtedly the text Jude has in mind. And second, we see how serious this situation is. God does take lightly those who claim to be shepherds among His people who only care for themselves. And third, notice how God will deal with the false shepherds – He will be against them. It no small thing to fleece the sheep, to devour them, to only seek to enrich yourself as a shepherd, to only care for yourself, to not care for the flock. Who leadership is arrogance and self-centeredness.
Notice, they feasted at the love feasts, fake as they were, without fear of repercussion. They thought themselves above the judgment of God. They were sorely mistaken. In Corinth, where they abused the Lord’s Supper by dividing the body – some were sick, some even died. Make no mistake about it – this was divine retribution.
Next, he says they are clouds without water, carried along by winds. In the arid Middle East, rain was a much-needed resource. Clouds coming, promising rain, only to dissipate and not deliver what was promised was both physically and emotionally destructive. So also, these teachers promised great things. If you look at verse 16, they spoke arrogantly, making empty promises in which they did not deliver. They promised, no doubt, freedom and spiritual benefit, and the opposite was delivered. Bondage to sin and spiritual ruin. Like the clouds, they were empty and useless. Be wary of people who boast great spiritual knowledge, even scriptural knowledge, but fail to apply it. They are vain, empty and ruinous.
Next, he says they are autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted. What a vivid picture. Autumn trees should be laden with fruit, ready for harvesting. Those that are barren, that is, not producing fruit as they are made to do, are uprooted – now twice dead. They were dead in that they were fruitless, now they are dead torn up by the roots. Jesus talked a lot about that. Remember the fig tree that He approached for fruit – found it barren, and cursed it, and it withered from the root up. Any tree that does not bear fruit is to be uprooted and burned in the fire.
So also, these false teachers should be bearing fruit. But they were spiritually barren, and by their fruit, you will know them. They were good for nothing – while they boasted much, saying they had the truth, follow them – they were only good for firewood.
Next, he says they are wild waves of the sea, casting up their shame like foam. Again, another vivid picture. You only have to walk along the beach after a storm to see all the nasty foam along the shore. Jude no doubt has Isaiah 57:20 in mind. Isaiah was speaking of the ungodly, and we read, “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud.” Isaiah and Jude compare the wicked – for Jude, false teachers in the church – who are like wild waves of the sea, fomenting refuse and mud, to their shame. What they lauded as truth and freedom was actually shameful.
Last, they are last like wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Those are strong words. Stars were used for navigation. Meteors or wandering stars or planets which at this time were thought to be in erratic courses were useless for leading anyone faithfully anywhere. These false shepherds, with their false teaching and ungodly living, appeared first as bright lights, but only leading people astray. Notice, Jude again says, so, they are bound for eternal destruction. One author wrote this:
“One is reminded by way contrast with the Lord whom these men deny. He is the Rock of our salvation; they are hidden rocks threatening shipwreck to the faith. He comes with clouds to refresh His people forever; these are clouds which do not even bring temporary blessing. He is the Tree of Life; these are trees of death. He leads beside still waters; these are like the restless sea. He is the bright and morning Star, heralding the coming day; these are wandering stars presaging a night of eternal darkness.” (Maxwell Coder)
Which brings us quickly to the prophecy of Enoch and its application. Look at verses 14 and 15 again. (II Thess 1:6-8)
We first read about Enoch in Genesis 5 within a genealogy. He was the seventh from Adam counting inclusively – that, starting with Adam as number 1, and Enoch as number 7. Seven is an important number in Scripture – perhaps Jude is pointing to the perfect judgment coming on these people. Genesis 5 says about Enoch:
21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah.
22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.
23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.
24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
That’s it – not much there, and certainly no prophecy we read in Jude. There is that odd statement, Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Intriguing – what does that mean? Well, the book of Hebrews sheds a little light. Enoch appears in the hall of faith in chapter 11:
5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
That tells us a little more – this being taken up by God meant he did not die, and that by faith he was pleasing to God. So we know Enoch was good guy – but again, no mention of his prophecy. You see, it appears in an apocryphal work called I Enoch – 1:9. Jude has already referred to this book back in verse 6 when he talked about the fallen angels. As I’ve said all along, this doesn’t mean the book of I Enoch is a book of the Bible – it simply means what Jude recorded from I Enoch is true and to be trusted. While we don’t have this prophecy of Enoch in the Bible, apparently it was handed down through the years until it was recorded in this book. And Jude, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recorded it in the Bible, so it is true.
And what does Enoch’s prophecy say? The same as the rest of Jude – the false teachers’ judgment, condemnation and destruction are sure. Notice, they are condemned for their ungodly actions and their ungodly words.
In verse 16, Jude now applies this prophecy to these certain men, focusing primarily on their ungodly words since it is now clear they are false teachers. These men were grumblers, finding fault – interesting wording, much like the unbelieving Israelites of verse 5, these men grumbled against whom? Against the teaching of the church regarding required holiness, undoubtedly, but then ultimately, against God. To grumble against the Word of God is to grumble against God.
Let me say it this way, those who complain against the church because of its biblical teaching are ultimately grumbling against God. The unbelieving Israelites were grumbling against Moses and Aaron – but it was God who caused their corpses to fall in the desert, and the fire came from the Tabernacle and consumed Korah. Inasmuch as our teaching is countercultural but biblical, there will be those who oppose us. But they ultimately oppose God. And Jude is saying – to us – they will get theirs.
Why? Because they want to follow after their own lusts. They have to complain against the church, the Bible and ultimately God so they can pursue ungodly lusts. Do you see that? They must justify their sexual sin.
Further, they speak arrogantly – ungodly leaders that they are – suggesting they are right and the Bible and God are wrong. That’s what is means to speak arrogantly – they do so against the church. Oh, they would never say it that way – they would say things like, well, the church has gotten it wrong. We are not bound by archaic rules of holiness – we know more now. That which the church, from the Bible, has called sin is not really sin. Or, we are free to live how we want. Hidden reefs, damaging those around them.
And finally, they flatter people – that is, they use people for their own advantage. To support their ungodly words and ungodly actions. Because sinners love to be affirmed in their sin – and seek to get others to join them.
Let me close with this. Remember, these false believers were antinomians – that is, anti-law – any law. We don’t know for sure, but perhaps they were saying, having been saved by grace, we can live however we want. Can I encourage us, more, warn us – anytime someone encourages sinful lifestyles – opposed to the Scripture – we should be leery. More, we should be concerned and contend for the faith. The church is filled with false teachers today, who want to live licentious and greedy lifestyles. Teaching a false gospel, they are not Christians – and their destruction is sure. We must stand for righteousness and truth – no matter how countercultural. And we know, it is becoming increasingly so. Next week, we will learn what to do about it, should we find it among our own church family.