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Jul 01, 2018

Whom to follow / How to lead

Whom to follow / How to lead

Passage: Proverbs 16:10-16

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Proverbs, Searching for Wisdom

Category: wisdom

Every era has some people living under the authority of others. (Our nation this week remembers casting off a tyrannical authority.) But what do we who live in a constitutional democracy have to learn from words about leadership issuing from a context that knew nothing of republics but only of realms--that thought only in terms of kingdoms, but scarcely in commonwealths? Whom to follow and how to lead both find their answer in these several passages--and in Whom they bring to mind.

Order of Worship

Call To Worship: Isaiah 55:1-3a; 6-7
Old Testament Reading: Psalm 118:1-9
New Testament Reading: Romans 13:1-7
Sermon Title: Whom to follow / How to lead
Central Text: various passages in Proverbs (see below)
Benediction: Jude verses 24-5

07.01.18 sermon slides

Readings & Scripture

Pre-Service Text: Proverbs 16:16
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Call To Worship: Isaiah 55:1-3a; 6-7
LEADER: 1 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;

ALL: 6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 118:1-9
1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

New Testament Reading: Romans 13:1-7
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Central Text: various passages in Proverbs
16:10 An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 A just balance and scales are the LORD’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

20:2 The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion;
whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.

24:21 My son, fear the LORD and the king,
and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22 for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

29:2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

29:4 By justice a king builds up the land,
but he who exacts gifts tears it down.

29:14 If a king faithfully judges the poor,
his throne will be established forever.

Benediction: Jude verses 24-25
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Post-Service Text: Proverbs 16:13
Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.

Related Scriptures

  • Psalm 72 (esp vv. 11-14)
  • Daniel 6
  • Matt 22:15-22
  • Luke 13:31-35
  • Romans 13:1-7
  • Philippians 3:20-21
  • 1 Peter 2:11
  • 1 Tim 2:1-4
  • Revelation 13

Discussion Questions & Applications

  • Define leadership. What makes for good leadership?
  • When does a candidate become more than a candidate in the eyes of the people? When does leadership wander into dictatorship--even in informal places of responsibility, like in the home, school, or neighborhood?
  • What does Jesus both teach and demonstrate about what always goes along with exercising authority? (Hint: Matthew 20:20ff)
  • How does the way Jesus exercised authority at His Cross mean to influence how we think both of leaders and also practicing leadership? How should our ultimate citizenship influence our human versions of it?


  • The most basic office we hold is indeed that of divine image. Respect for authority must begin with this authoritative office, in which all the other offices find their focus and point of origin.  David Koyzis
  • Perhaps our sincere prayers could contribute to the revival in the public mind of a sense of the inherent dignity of public office. Unless that sense grows among ordinary citizens, it is likely that most of those offering themselves for “public service” will merely be seeking their own private advantage.  Ellen Davis
  • I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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