Well, I’m the pastor/pastor’s wife – they’ll just have to do what I say!
How many times have you heard that? (Or… How many times have you said that?)
Leadership isn’t about pushing your way to the top, so you can call the shots and get all the perks – and bring in dump loads of money.
But you already know that. (Or you should.)
Yet, too many leaders still operate under this system, even in churches.
Carte blanche: free rein, blank check, full and unconditional authority and complete discretionary power with no regard for the law and no accountability.
Sounds great if you work at an ice cream shop. Add in the no calories, no fat, and the not good for you stigma, and you’re in foodie heaven!
However, it doesn’t work long-term in the real world. Just look up history’s worst dictators.
Misuse of power is not the way to lead well.
Although some ministry leaders still have this mentality, it doesn’t come with God’s blessing.
Jesus had much to say about shepherding and leading in ministry. But He never framed it with, I’m in charge here, and you better listen, or else… Remember: He was Master and Creator and Lord of the universe. He could have thrown His weight around a whole lot more than He did.
So, why didn’t He?
Everytime the disciples took that attitude, Jesus rebuked them.
Feed my sheep, He told Peter more than once. And he warned those in leadership not to lord over those we serve – not to assume an attitude of dominance and arrogance. In other words, church membership/leadership isn’t a heirarchy. There is one King, and we are His subjects. Period.
Although we’re in a spiritual battle, church governance isn’t a branch of the military. Church members are brothers and sisters in Christ, individuals serving and loving one another, regardless what position we hold.
Good leadership begins with right relationships – with God first and with others next.
Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 22:37-40
Actually, all of life is about loving God and loving others. This principle is the foundation on which everything we do should be built on. (Whether we believe in God or not, it doesn’t negate the fact that He designed human life this way. True success and fulfillment won’t be gained apart from God’s purposes and pattern, no matter how hard we try.)
More than once Jesus corrected the disciples on their views of people and ministry. Unfortunately, the disciples were at the center of their world – not love for God and others.
Let the little children come, He said when the disciples pushed the kids away, thinking they were doing a good work by eliminating what annoyed and didn’t serve them.
What this woman has done for Me will be remembered for all time, He rebuked the sceptics and gossips. If He was God He would know who and what this woman is, and He wouldn’t allow her to touch Him, they whispered. They didn’t see that their pride was just as sinful as her lifestyle.
Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great. This shows what they were truly passionate about.
Then in the next verses… If they’re not against us, they’re for us, Jesus told the disciples regarding others who were doing ministry differently, those who weren’t part of their group. Again, it was all about status, popularity, power, and who was at the forefront.
I saw Satan fall… He reflected when the disciples grew impressed with their abilities and the expansion of their ministry. Pride will lead us to ruin every time.
Observing the widow at the offering box, He pointed out, This woman gave more than everyone else. She gave all she had to the God she loved most.
And in the book of James we read how we’re not to show favoritism to the well-dressed, and treat poorly those who can’t benefit us.
Again, when rebuking Peter after a servant of the High Priest lost his ear, He said, …do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? – Matthew 26
On the cross while being mocked, Jesus loved God and loved you and me and every human ever born by staying there and not using His power for personal gain.
And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God. – Matthew 27
Jesus modeled the humility that only comes out of a heart truly filled with love for God and love for others.
To be continued…