Jesus taught in the book of Luke, chapter 14, that we cannot be His disciples unless we are willing to:

Love Him more than we love our families.

Bear our own crosses and follow Him—be willing to die for Him, and a painful death, at that.

Renounce our possessions.

Here’s something that bothers me concerning leaders in the Church: Do they meet these three criteria for discipleship? More specifically, are our leaders willing to die on a cross?

We may respond, “Yes, I believe true Christian pastors and leaders would do this.”

But here’s my problem. The church structure that we have created mitigates this requirement for discipleship. The leaders of our churches preach, teach, lead, organize and administrate, to varying degrees. They feel that God has given them a vision to build a ministry and have gathered others around them who share that vision. People who attend their churches go there because they have what it takes to deliver the goods on Sunday morning. So how could these leaders possibly just go out and willingly die? If they were to die, what would become a their churches?

The church system we are part of actually works against this requirement for discipleship. Shouldn’t we be asking, therefore, if this system is what God intended?

Jesus was a leader. He was a leader who died. Why didn’t He think that He was too valuable to die? Why didn’t He, instead, stay on earth in order to keep things running? Instead, He counted Himself as nothing, Philippians tells us. The power He denied wasn’t only the power to call ten thousand angels, as He told His disciples at Gethsemane. It was the power to rule over people according to the world’s way of thinking.

All of Jesus’ disciples, except John and Judas Iscariot, died as martyrs. Why didn’t these men think that they were too valuable, too needed, to die? After all, they were the only ones on earth who were His disciples, the only ones whom He had chosen and walked with Him intimately. Weren’t they needed to keep this growing, infant church on track?

We in the Church think as the world thinks. We lead from positions of power and influence instead of from positions of weakness and sacrifice. We do not follow Him or His Word in this matter. Please pray with me that the Church will follow Jesus and be willing to die so we can be His disciples.