The call to Christian leadership is a call to servant leadership. Our Saviour said to his disciples who were jostling for position ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave (Matt. 20:25-27). The disciples had been disputing about who would have prominence in the kingdom. To which the Saviour replies: don’t seek prominence rather seek to serve.
The Saviour Himself is obviously the perfect example of this. Interestingly therefore He concludes the aforementioned exhortation to His disciples by saying. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Matt. 20:28). As elders in Christian churches we need to remember that we follow a Saviour who did not seek position, but sought to serve. Christian leaders are first and foremost to be disciples of their Lord. For them to seek position and glory in position is reprehensible and a total contradiction of their faith.
Jeremiah would remind us though, that The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9). Pride is always lurking nearby for a Christian Leader. Paul when giving the qualifications for an elder says that He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil (1 Tim. 3:6). The pre-fall position of the devil was august, but pride came in and condemnation followed. How we need to be on our guard fellow leaders, that we do not fall into this satanic pattern.
So how do we guard against pride in the service of God. Here are two suggestions:
- Always remember you are at best an unprofitable servant. And if you have done something valuable (as you might perceive it) you have only done what your Master required you to do and there is nothing to boast of in that. The Lord develops this issue of servants doing what they were told when teaching his disciples and then pointedly addresses them and says So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:10)
- Always remember you are a sinner in need of a Saviour. Paul, perhaps the greatest of Christian leaders after the Lord Himself, never forgot this. And so he could say towards the end of his ministry that Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst (1 Tim. 1:15 ESV). If we are vying for first-place with Paul in our estimation of ourselves concerning sinner-hood and the need of salvation then this augurs well for our leadership.
Let us be vicious against pride in our service brother elders. And if we are we will do well.
(This post follows-on from my post of yesterday about Mrs May and Leadership – see here)