I’ve been thinking a lot about Christian leadership lately — what it is and what it is not. It’s a good idea for anyone who has a leadership role to think it through from time to time, just to make sure we’re still living it out the way Jesus intends us to — because it is easy to slip from the model He set for us.
Jesus knew that the Kingdom leadership concept is foreign to our soulish nature, and that’s why He gave instruction about it:
“You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you, let him be your minister, and whoever would be chief among you, let him be your servant.”
— Matthew 20:25-27
So, leaders are to serve those whom they lead, exhibiting humility, not being heavy-handed, honoring the ones who follow them. They are to encourage, care for, and inspire those for whom they have been given responsibility.
Genuine Christlike leadership does not involve bullying, tyrannizing, intimidating, manipulating, and expecting others to bow down to us. You wouldn’t think I would have to say that, but unfortunately, leaders in the Church do those things sometimes. Such behaviors are easy to fall into, but they wound people and cause them to bitterly leave church fellowships behind.
Leaders in the Body of Christ must continually remember the concept of sonship for all believers. What do I mean by that? Simply this: every Christian is a son of God, with all having equal value in the Father’s eyes, all having equal covenant and inheritance privileges through Christ. Revelation 5:10 says that Jesus, the Lamb of God, “has made us [all] kings and priests unto our God, and we shall [all] reign on the earth.” We are all royalty, and there is no caste system in God’s family — no Level Two sons with the right to lord it over the Level Ones. We must never forget that.
Heavy-handed leadership is often rooted in insecurity about one’s ability to lead. It may involve fear that the leadership position will be taken away, resulting in clutching and striving to retain control.
The antidote is to understand our position in Christ — that we are God’s beloved, and that He will always give us (and help us retain) what is best for us. Developing trust in Him, and learning to depend on His abilities flowing through us, will help us overcome fears and insecurities about having our ministry position snatched away from us. We will become the Kingdom leaders that Jesus meant for us to be.