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Leadership #1 - Philippians 2


Philippians 2:1-11

Teaching Moments

1. Verses 1-2 reflect the goal of Christian community (family). The goal is sharing the same love, like-mindedness, spirit and purpose in a unity. This unity is derived from the encouragement of union with Christ, comfort from Christ’s love, the fellowship of the Spirit and the tenderness/compassion of God’s work among us. Our unity is rooted in God’s work to make us one. It arises out of his love, fellowship and union with him. Union with Christ, the fellowship of the Spirit, and the love of God gives rise to a family of shared commitments, purpose and love.

2. As a result, several imperatives (directions) follow. If the situation of verses 1-2 obtains, then the community will do two things:

   a. Treat each other with humility rather than pursuing conceited ambitions.
   b. Look toward each other’s interests rather than one’s own selfish interests.

3. This applies to how a community works together, shares its life and seeks leadership within the community. Humility and Sacrificial Service are the key ideas for genuine community, and for genuine leadership.

4. The model, of course, is Jesus Christ. He exhibits the “attitude” (mind) that acts in humility and sacrificial service (vv. 5-8).

   a. The humility of Jesus is his willingness to move from the “form of God” to the “form of a servant”; from divine glory to human weakness; from equality with God to humble obedience, even to the cross. The cross is the humiliation of God—this is the length to which God’s humility will go, and this arises out of his love for us.

   b. The sacrifice of Jesus is his willingness to give up his glory to come to earth as a humble servant. The one who was rich became poor (2 Cor. 8:9).

5. The result is that God exalts the humble, sacrificial servant. By his humble service, Jesus returns to glory to the glory of the Father. The one who is willing to take the low place is exalted to the highest place.

6. Community, unity, and encouragement only exists when the people of a community serve each other with humility without ambition or selfishness. This quality is necessary for the unity of any community, whether a church or a family. Those who lead the family or church must model this sacrificial humility according to pattern offered us in Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions

1. Reading between the lines, what do you think was the problem in the church at Philippi? (cf. “strife” and “envy” in 1:15-17; also 4:2-3).

2. What are some of the values of community/family that are listed in verses 1-2?

3. What are the four motives for living in unity? How is this unity related to humility?

4. How does Jesus exemplify what Paul means in verses 3-4?

5. Can you think of any stories from the Gospels that might reflect the values of verses 3-4?

6. In what ways did Jesus make himself a servant, and how is this a “humbling” experience for him?

7. How does Jesus model leadership within the family and church?

8. How does “selfish ambition” often arise within a church, and how is it sometimes reflected? How does this text teach us to deal with this? What is the ambition of leadership within a church/family?

9. What are some ways in which we can seek to redirect some of the “ambition” in a church to profitable service? What values do we need to inculcate in a church in order to avoid such ambition and self-interestedness?

10. How is the “gospel” summarized in this text in Philippians? If all you had was this text, what would you say the gospel is? What is the good news and what difference does it make in community or family when everyone lives out the gospel?


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