10 Church Leadership Lessons From Matthew 10


Over twenty years ago, I read an article, the source of which I no longer have, on leadership lessons from Jesus taken from Matthew 10. I jotted down the main points and slipped it in my “leadership” file. They are still great principles for church leadership today.

Jesus developed leaders by calling them, training them, and sending them out. Jesus had called his twelve disciples, he had trained them, and in Matthew 10, we see Him sending them out on a short-term mission.

1.  In Matthew 10:2-4, the names of the twelve apostles are listed, but they are all listed in pairs.  It seems as though Jesus sent them out as six teams of two. Jesus knew the value of teams.

2.  “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him. . . . These are the names of the twelve apostles. . . .”  (Matthew 10:1, 2)  Notice the switch in name from “disciples” (students) to “apostles” (those sent) referring to the same twelve men. Jesus gave them authority for the mission. Jesus knew how to delegate authority. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “The best executive is the one who recruits the most competent people around, tell them what he wants done, and then gets out of the way so they can do it.” 

3.  “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.  Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”  (Matthew 10:5, 6)  Jesus knew the power of priorities and focus. Jesus told them where and to whom they were to go on this mission.  Was Jesus excluding Gentiles from his gospel?  No way.  But on this mission he was telling them to stay focused.  There’s an old saying that if you chase two rabbits—both will escape. One of the biggest mistakes church leaders can make is getting distracted from their mission.

4.  “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.”  (Matthew 10:7, 8)  A great leader will communicate expectations.  Jesus set clear expectations of what the message should be and what they should do. 

5.  “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts, take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.”  (Matthew 10:9, 10)  Jesus was telling them to be resourceful.  Great church leaders will find a way to resource the vision.  Jesus wanted them to be solution-focused rather than problem-focused. 

6.  Another principle is this: identify with the people you are leading.  Jesus told them not to take extra clothes.  The tunic was a standard garment in that day, and only the wealthy would wear two tunics.  Jesus wanted the apostles to identify with common people.

7.  “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.”  (Matthew 10:11)  Jesus wanted them to show discernment.  Don’t make hasty decisions, learn to discern.  Find a worthy person with a house you can stay in and stay there until you leave.  Too often we are binary—we make instant judgments about people, things we like or don’t like, categorizing things as good or bad.

8.  “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.”  (Matthew 10:14)  Jesus knew that a leader values the stewardship of time.  Focus time and resources on those who are responsive to the message.  For those who are resistant, move on.

9.  “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.  Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16)  Church leaders prepare their followers for any contingency.  It would be a difficult mission. Wolves usually showed up among sheep, not sheep showing up among wolves.  Jesus wanted them to display wisdom in dangerous and difficult circumstances.

10.  “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  (Matthew 10:22)  Jesus wanted them to practice endurance.  Great church leaders persevere through great trials.

What other church leadership lessons can you find in this section of Scripture?