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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Myth of Church Leadership

Contrary to popular opinion, biblical churches have no earthly leaders!

Neither the Lord Jesus nor any of the apostles taught that anyone could become a “church leader”! Rather the Lord Jesus is our leader, our Lord, our Master and our Head. That being said, the position of “church leader” has already been filled and God is not taking any more applications for the job!

The Lord Jesus never concerned Himself with the matter of “leadership development”, assigning leaders to “take charge”, “fill positions” or “hold offices” and neither should we. But His priority of calling, training and sending followers (those who would follow Him) should still be our priority!

One whose goal is to be a leader is always concerned that he himself/she herself has a following. But one whose goal is to be a follower of Christ is only concerned that the Lamb has a following!

Those who seek to be leaders make sure that they give directions, instructions and assignments to others to insure that they maintain control over those who look to their leadership. But loyal followers of Christ listen to their Lord, obey what he says and simply teach others to do the same!

A body only has one head and it is the leader, the director, the guide of all the members. Neither the foot, the hand nor the mouth are equipped to lead. They are all equipped and designed to follow the head. So too, the Body of Christ has one head and, as each member follows him, the body functions as it was intended.  But if the mouth, the right hand and the left foot each assumed “leadership” over different portions of the Body there would be utter confusion and the Body could not function as it was intended!

Is it any wonder that there is so much confusion, division and lack of co-ordination in the Body of Christ today?  Multitudes of “church leaders” have usurped the place of the Head. Their followers are trained to listen to and obey their voice but are never trained to listen to and obey the voice of the One who purchased the church with His own blood!

Some objections which will be raised against what I am writing here include the following:

(1) Are not apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers given to the church to be leaders among God’s people?

No. Such gifts, just like any of the other gifts, are given so the body will be edified. But each gift and each member is to follow the Lord, their head. No apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher was ever instructed to lead, direct or be a head for any other members of the body.

(2) Are not elders (overseers) and deacons (ministers/servants) to be the leaders of the churches?

Elders and deacons have their God-given responsibilities and assignments to fulfil (just as every other member of the body does). But neither has been assigned the task of leadership! Traditionally, we have been taught that elders are leaders but the scriptures do not support this idea at all. Paul realized that elders would soon begin to think they were to be leaders rather than simply followers of the Lord Jesus. That is why he warned the elders at Ephesus with these words: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”  Acts 20:28-30

Being a follower is a humble task and a lowly assignment which does not naturally suit any one of us. We naturally want to “rise” to be recognized and acknowledged. Our flesh is not satisfied to simply be one follower among many. Knowing the tendency of the human heart, Paul warned the Ephesian elders to beware. Men not satisfied with following would soon aspire to be “leaders” and “would draw away disciples after them.”

From whom would those disciples be drawn away?  From their true shepherd, the Lord Jesus who purchased them with His own blood! (Acts 20:28)  Just as no man can serve two masters, no disciple can follow two leaders!

In the next few days I hope to develop this truth that every believer is to be a follower of Christ and not a leader. But in the mean time, feel free to write your own comments, questions, challenges. I trust that a healthy and edifying discussion of this vital topic may develop.

A brother in Christ,

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