Monday, April 23, 2018

Called to Lead or to Serve?

Below is an article Mr. S. included in the weekly bulletin for our little congregation out here in the country, which he found in another church publication called The Voice of Truth we get in the mail from Springfield, Missouri. I think it is the best thing written on the subject of "leadership" and it is way overdue. Note the end of the article for my comments.

                                                    Called to Lead or to Serve?
                                                         By Claude Thompson

The word "Leader" and "Leadership" are over-used and too often misapplied in the church today. 
Therefore, they are very likely misunderstood. Too often  we identify only the elders or preacher as "leaders" of our congregations, or, we may say a brother "leads" us in worship at communion or in prayer. We normally define "leadership" as administering or directing, and the "leader" as the boss, or one in command.

However, the Bible presents a completely different picture of true spiritual leadership.

The Greek word (the original language of the New Testament) translated "lead" (hodegeo) means literally "to travel with" someone or "to guide" someone. It may be correctly applied metaphorically to teaching and teachers, whether of truth (Hebrews 5:12) or of error (2 Peter 2:1).

Yet, the New Testament seldom uses the words "lead" or "leader" and when they are used, it is more often in a negative context:

Jesus called the spiritual leaders of His day "blind leaders of the blind" (Matthew 5:14). Our Lord specifically advised us not to identify ourselves, nor any others as our leaders or "masters" because He, Christ, is our only Master (Matthew 23:10).  

When initially calling men to start and lead His church, Jesus selected fishermen rather than sea captains, and workers rather than administrators (Matthew 4:18-21). He needs and desires laborers instead of foremen for His kingdom (Luke 10:2), men and women qualified and willing to serve others. Such are the true leaders of the church--"the leaders is as one who serves" (Luke 22:26).

Jesus calls us to serve, rather than to lead:

Although fully God and worthy of all honor (Revelation 4:9-11), He fully exemplified the servant role and taught that the servant was greater than the master (John 12:5-16). Those who Jesus recognized as greatest in His kingdom were those who expressed faith (Matthew 8:10-13) and those who quietly served (Matthew 26:10-13).  Christians are created by God and recreated in Christ to serve (Ephesians 2:10).

Spiritual Service is to be Motivated by Love rather than recognition or reward:

God Himself is e great example of serving that is based on love (John 3:16).  Christians are to serve one another through love (Galations 5:13). As followers of Christ, we are to love even our enemies (Luke 6:35). When we serve others, it is as if we are serving God, and it must be sincere service from our hearts (Ephesians 6:5-6).

Spiritual service has its own recognition and reward (1 Corinthians 3:8):

Christians are to acknowledge with honor those who lead them in service, whether in the secular/physical world (Ephesians 6:2, Romans 13:7-8, 1 Timothy 6:1) or in the spiritual world (Ist Corinthians 12:23-25, Philippians 2:19-20, 1st Timothy 5:17). Regardless of any recognition we may receive here in this life on earth, our highest and more important honor will be given to us in Heaven (Matthew 5:11-12, Revelation 11:18).  We are to work patiently, awaiting our reward (James 5:7). As Christian servants we must take care that we are not performing our spiritual activities to be recognized by our fellow men, but as honest praise and service to God (Matthew 6:1-6).

My notes on this subject:

I noticed in some of the homeschool material we purchased in years past, some lessons regarding "leadership" and quickly saw that it could misunderstood by those who were very young.  The Bible warned about letting a "novice" be an elder in th church, lest he become puffed up. "Leadership" has that effect on those who have not fully matured, and it tends to make them bosses rather than real leaders, meaning servants. Lacking humility, they want to be admired for being leaders, and sometimes    As "servants" in the home or church, demand they should be lauded as great leaders.

Another thing that happens in trying to make men "leaders" who were not used to it or didn't have the knowledge or skill, was their propensity to become harsh, unloving, lacking in understanding and wisdom. Not understanding the quality of meekness (strength under control) they became pushy and critical, demanding respect, and caused those they were responsible to protect and provide for, to avoid them or resist them.

The man taught to be gentle, kind, and protective, will always be a good leader because he is a servant and a sacrificial worker at home as well as in his profession. His family is drawn to that and will immitate it as well as cooperate with him. 

We all know of course, that there are are authorities who must boss, such as in law enforcement, and we also know that the unruly who will not be led by example or by command, must be dealt with. We see that all the time when someone is destroying property or causing a disturbance. Also, we know in churches that sometimes there will be a person who is bent on disturbing others with his/her own personal agenda, trying to control others, etc. We know they will not be led by example and will eventually be taken to task by the authorities who serve,  in order to keep the others safe. But this article refutes the idea that "leadership" is some admirable thing. 

Told they must have ambition to be leaders, they neglect to practice  the very things that would make them an example of true leadership: service, purity, providing, protecting. Not being mature, those who desire to have leadership and respect, tend to give orders that don't even have a Biblical basis. They are more sold on themselves as authorities, than on the principles of sacrifice and service. Do you want those in your charge to follow you happily without grudge or resentment? Be a good example and live the way you want others to live.

There has also been an emphasis on leadership in religion that is similar to what Christ described of the leaders of His days on earth. Books and magazines exalt religious leaders instead of the dedicated servants that are quietly living the example.

The true leader is the one who leads by example; a servant.

I was always happy watching my parents be creative and build something, fix something and make things work, and even when they were reading or writing, had a sense of their leadership. Their loving care for us made them true leaders.


Laura Jeanne said...

This is an interesting article, which has given me some things to think about. Thank you for sharing, Lydia.

Lydia said...

So nice to hear from you, Laura. I like your pattern blog, which I have on my sidebar.

Gigi said...

Dear Mrs. Sherman, I just love your blog. Thank you for taking the time to write and encourage women of Christ. I check your blog for inspiration and encouragement as often as I can. Please keep up the lovely work. You are inspiring!

Blessings to you this Spring Day!

Lydia said...

Gigi, so nice to hear from you. It makes me want to post more often.