Over the last few years, the topic of leadership has become a mega-industry, even within Christian circles. Due to various responsibilities and opportunities I have had in the past few years in my association, I have read stacks of books and attended dozens of workshops on the subject. Some of what I have learned I have found to be useful. Much of it left me feeling as if I had wasted my time.
Here’s the thing, the church is not a corporation. I understand that for tax purposes and other legal ramifications certain papers must be filled out from time to time, but it is a grave mistake when we try to run the church according to the principles of Wall Street and Madison Avenue. The church is the flock of God, not a business.
Pastors, God has not called us to be CEO’s. He has called us to be shepherds. We are to be leaders, that much is certain, but let us model our “leadership style” after Christ instead of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates.
In Isaiah 42:1-4, we find some prophecies concerning the Messiah. Consider the description of Christ in the first verse:
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
Notice that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is described as a servant. I do not say this to be critical of God’s servants, I have known many of them in my life and many of them have had profound impact upon me, but too many times it becomes so easy to forget our role. I have seen church leaders with overblown egos or insecurities who became control freaks. I have seen pastors who developed a sense of entitlement, as if their service automatically guaranteed that they deserved special treatment from the people to whom they ministered.
Jesus did not build a network to defend his position. He realized that He was upheld by the Father who had chosen Him for the role in which He was placed. People of God, we should pray for God to grant us the humility to accept the purpose He has designed for us within His kingdom. It is not about our delights our aspirations. Above all, we should pray that God would deliver us from the spirit of selfish ambition that seeks to turn our area of ministry into our own little kingdom.
Jesus labored in the strength of the Holy Spirit. He did not rely upon personal ability, a slick image or clever marketing gimmicks to get the job done. I am learning that God neither requires nor desires any abilities that I may think that I have to carry out His plan for me. If He can communicate His message through a braying donkey, a crowing rooster and even a silent worm, why does He need eloquence or good looks today?
The last thing we can see in this verse is that He spoke the truth. He came to bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He did not teach us prosperity, how to be a champion or even how to win friends. Very simply, He came to teach us the why and how of being declared righteous before God.
I hope that as pastors and church leaders, we will take our leadership lessons from the ultimate servant instead of trying to turn God’s kingdom into a corporate ladder. Truly, he who will be the greatest must be the servant of all.