Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Leaders serve and servants lead

I read one of the best posts on leadership in the church I have ever run across. It is from Keith Giles and is titled For Leaders Only. Now that is not unusual. There are lots of things in the church aimed at "leaders", which usually means "pastors" or perhaps "elders". There are conferences for pastors, books for pastors, blogs for pastors, schools to train pastors. The church is unquestionably leader-centric. So Keith is just jumping in and posting something just for leaders. That will get an approving nod from many other leaders in the church. At least until they read what Keith wrote.

Here is where Keith starts talking crazy. He says that every Christian is a leader and there is no such thing as a Christian who is not...

Therefore, if every Christian is called to be a servant, and if loving one another means serving one another, and if those who serve others are leaders in the Body of Christ, then every Christian is a leader.

That means Christianity is for leaders only.

The more we serve others in the Body of Christ, the greater we become. The greater we become the more authority we are given to serve others. The more we exercise our authority to serve by serving more people, the greater servants we become, and the greater we become in the Kingdom. It’s really very simple.
Now that is truly nuts. How can we run the church unless we have leaders that are distinct from the rest of us? Saying that every Christian is a leader is crazy but it is also very, very true.

There should be no bleacher seats in the church, nobody who warms the bench. Ministry as I have so often said is not a spectator sport. It might look different from person to person but no ministry is more important than another. When my daughter watches children so that another couple can go minister in a pregnancy resoure center, she is being a leader and serving in the church in a way that is every bit as important as the guy preparing a sermon he will deliver in front of 5000 people next Sunday. When a sister makes a meal for a family where mom is sick, she is being a leader in the church by serving. The more you serve and lower yourself, the more of a servant you become and the greater a leader in the church. The irony of our pastor-centric cult of personality is that in reality the greatest leaders among us are unknown to most of us. No one will celebrate the anniversary of their birth, no one will quote something they said from the pulpit, no one will read the books they won't write in the first place. The only people who will know how great they are at leading will be God and those that they served.

Ministry and leadership is not about being "the guy up front" and it is not something that only some of us are called to. Every Christian is a leader but the church doesn't treat us that way. Until the church gets back to the model of real servant leadership and a preisthood of every believer, we will never see the church impacting the world as it should be. Our traditional view of leadership is a disease that has infected the church for over 1000 years but it must be stamped out.


Aussie John said...


As one who spent most of his life as a "leader" I can only applaud Keith's article and your comment.

I have often asked the question,"Where in Scripture do we find the characteristics, described by Paul in Timothy and Titus,and traditionally applied to "pastors", NOT being applicable to ALL genuine believers?"

Whilst standing with you on the whole article, your last paragraph sums the problem up well.

Arthur Sido said...

John, we have a ton of men called "leaders" in the church, men we pay to lead us, and yet a grotesque lack of Biblical leadership. It seems to me that something is wrong with that picture.