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How about Paul? Did he have authority? He had abundant positional authority as a Pharisee—so much authority that he authorized the death and imprisonment of followers of the Way. However, he completely lost all of that hierarchical power when he became a Christian. Subsequently, however, he came into enormous spiritual authority. This authority was evidenced in the miracles that had been performed through him as well as in his suffering for the Lord and His Church, which he points out in his apostolic defense.

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What did Jesus teach His disciples about leadership? We know the answer. He taught them to lead by being servants, not as those who had power, position, or were seeking a following. “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:8–11).

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What did Jesus teach His disciples about leadership? We know the answer. He taught them to lead by being servants, not as those who had power, position, or were seeking a following. “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:8–11).

Jesus teaches us that the greatest among Christian is a servant. Is that how we lead today in the Western Church? Well, we say we do, by virtue of the fact that pastors and leaders give themselves sacrificially for the church and the staff, by teaching, counseling, working hard, and building teams and programs. However, that isn’t what Jesus meant when He talked about servant leadership. He was clear. Let’s look at what He said in Matthew 20:25-28.

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Leadership has been the most taught and discussed topic in the American church in my lifetime. When I did a search recently on Amazon, there were 15,758 hits on the topic of Christian leadership. It makes sense. It doesn’t take much reading in Scripture to find leadership being manifested in one form or another by notable individuals in the Bible. Yet if we do a word search through the Scripture, we find a paucity of references under that word. Why is that? I think the reason we find so little use of the word “leader” in Scripture is because that aspect, that virtue, is secondary in God’s view. Perhaps not even secondary. Therefore, it’s troubling when we have made it our number one emphasis for so many years. If we read about God’s leaders in Scripture, we’ll find, overwhelmingly, an emphasis on only two traits: godliness and obedient, active faith in the power and ability of God.

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