I read a piece from Jeff Deyo on worship, about now focus on being a worship leader, but a lead worshiper. That you shouldn’t focus on making the people worship, or causing them to worship, but on worshiping yourself in a way that people can follow your lead and can worship. (http://higherpraise.com/worship/worship_beingaleadworshiper.htm)
I think this applied to more than just worship, but I have become convinced beyond measure that this is exactly what Christian leadership should look like. There are so many books, articles, resources and trainings out there about Christian leadership, being a leader and all the things a leader should do. Some of them good, some bad, some are downright sinful. It’s time for Christian leaders to break from the mold and do it how Jesus said to be leaders. Remember, Jesus said:
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45
That fits exactly the secular model, and the church has begun to buy into the CEO, President, General model of leadership. We lead with great authority, from out front in a clear and demanding way. We lead with power, we gain prestige and we use our influence. We have become the Gentile leaders we were commanded not to act like, we have become the Religious Leaders who’s leaven we were told to flee. We have become the Pharisees who use our authority to become the bully, the master, the boss. We have focused on becoming the first, acting like the first and being in charge.
I have heard many conflicts during my time in ministry about authority and not to challenge authority. How many Pastor’s refer to themselves as The Lord’s Anointed (which is what Messiah or Christ means in English, it’s a little scary). There have been lectures about how the younger men must learn to respect and show honor and authority to the men in charge. While I agree, the younger should respect the older, it should not be demanded by those in charge. It should be taught with grace and humility. There is little to no gentleness, which is a fruit of the Spirit. How we have lost our way. So many leaders are taking the leadership skills of the business class, the corporate world, the military and the government, using them in the church. Jesus said “not so with you”, but we have turned a def ear.
Where are the leadership washing feet of their followers. Sure, there are leaders who will go out and serve the poor and wash their feet, often in a display, but what about the pastor washing the feet of his deacons. What about the leader serving his critic, those who won’t fall in line, are we the servant to those? Do we love those we disagree with, or do we crack the whip and demand they fall into line? In someone hurts the pride of a leader, makes them look bad or foolish, does the leader act like a servant, or like a leader? How is it with us? How should it be? Jesus said in Matthew 23:11 that the greatest must be the servant. What does a servant look like? Is that what today’s Christian leader look like?
I hear a lot about having integrity, but do many have integrity? Our secular leaders don’t, we know from many times a microphone has accidentally been left on. We hear their true thoughts then, what they really think. What is our pastors, leaders and elders accidentally left a mike on after church? How would they talk about the people? How would they talk about other churches, pastors or leaders? What would we hear, would it sound like servants talking, or Gentile Rulers? Integrity is something staying the same, regardless of the stress, heat or pressure applied too it. A good bolt keeps it’s integrity, it doesn’t stretch, warp or give under pressure or torque. Do our leaders change depending on the audience, the location? Do they speak blessings to the face but curses behind the back? Do they honor an individual to their face, but slander them to others? This is not integrity, this is getting ahead, it’ politics and it should not be so.
We need to take a lesson from Jeff Deyo, and from Paul. Our leadership should come from the midst, not the front. We should walk with the people of God, walking with passion toward Christ. The Apostle Paul loved Jesus and he loved the people of God. He taught them how to behave, he modeled how to behave and he said “imitate me as I imitate Christ” in 1 Corinthians 11:1. He commands Timothy to be an example in speech and conduct in 1 Timothy 4:12, leading by example. Leading others to do what Christ commands. Since the commandment Christ left is to love, the first and greatest example must be that of love. We must have leaders who love the opposition, who loves those in the church that they conflict with. It’s not enough to love the poor, to love the sinner, to love the atheist. We must love the deacon that argues, the elder who is cruel, those who are hurtful in the church, those who would crucify you, after all, isn’t that what Jesus modeled?
I am inviting you to join me. I am inviting you to take a commitment to be a New Testament type leader. Maybe you are already doing these things, maybe you need to repent and become a new leader. I am inviting you to become a Lead Follower, to trust Jesus and follow Him first and foremost. Your job is not to take care of the church, His job is to take care of the church. It’s His bride, He redeemed her, He saved her, He is coming back for her. You are not the Great Shepherd, you are simply a hired hand, an under-shepherd, you just need to feed the sheep. They belong to Jesus. Follow the Shepherd with all your might, and those sheep that are His will hear His voice and the will walk with you.
Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation because he recognized an issue with leadership. Here we are approximately 500 years later, and it’s clear that leadership corruption continues to pollute the church. I say no more, if we are going to claim to be followers of Jesus, it’s time to do what He says. Can we say we love Him and not follow His commandments? Be servants, be like children, love without condition, throw the roll of Commander and Chief out the window and be who God called you to be, a Lead Follower.