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In response to last week’s article, a friend submitted a passage of Scripture concerning the sovereignty and goodness of God, a message, if preached, he wrote sarcastically, would “fill the pews”:

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From time to time, I pray that the Lord will bring down the hierarchical structure of the Church, wherever it exists. Does this sound radical? Well, after studying the concept of leadership in the New Testament, I’ve come to very oppositional conclusions about what we so easily today call “leadership.”

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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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This is the fourth and last installment in the series, The God Who Serves. In the first three posts, we saw that our amazing Savior’s ministry to His disciples was one of simple servanthood, including being so servile that He attended to their needs as a waiter and cook. However, we saw that the most challenging of Jesus’ teaching concerning leadership may be His command that His disciples were not to “exercise authority” over others, which is how Gentiles lead (Matthew 20:25). It seems clear that this denial of the exercise of authority would apply to positional authority, not spiritual authority, since Jesus and His disciples, apostles and elders obviously had spiritual authority. Jesus is teaching us that servants in His kingdom are to have no positional authority. This is very difficult for us to obey in a practical way today. How does a pastor/leader lead a church or ministry using spiritual authority only? The use of positional authority would be necessary to accomplish almost everything in leading an organization, including the hiring and firing of staff.

Jesus has thrown a spiritual grenade into the midst of our leadership paradigm.

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2009-02-23_1234_1_VillageSheep

This is the third installment in the series, The God Who Serves. In the first two posts, we looked at three things concerning our amazing Savior’s ministry to His disciples.

First, upon His return, Jesus said that He will serve supper to His servants. This is a truth that we almost want to reject as Peter did when Jesus offered to wash his feet. However, like Peter, we must accept His words if we want to know Him.

Second, He prepared and served breakfast to His disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, after His resurrection. His ministry to His leaders was as a cook and waiter.

Third, after breakfast that morning, Jesus told Peter that, if he loved Him, he would feed His sheep. We asked the question if Peter had understood that the humble servanthood he had witnessed that very morning was an example of leadership. Did Peter comprehend that being a shepherd of Jesus’ sheep was not only feeding them spiritually but also serving them as a cook and waiter might?

It seems clear that Jesus’ understanding of leadership is different from ours. That should concern us, since He should be our ultimate example of leadership.

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2009-02-23_1234_1_VillageSheep

In the first post entitled The God Who Serves, we looked at two Scripture portions concerning the servanthood of Jesus. One was in Luke 12:35–40, where Jesus states that when He returns, He will cause His servants to sit down at table and then serve them dinner. This isn’t an act that we would anticipate from the Lord of all creation. He is the victorious One, who conquered sin, death, and hell. Every knee shall bow before Him, the sovereign Lord. Consequently, we are overwhelmed by the truth spoken from His own mouth that He will become our waiter at His return. The second passage was from John 21:1–13, where Jesus, after His resurrection, serves His disciples breakfast. We looked at the contrast between how Jesus ran this “event” and how we might. We should ask, “Why didn’t Jesus lead this event the way we would?” He is, after all, our example as well as our Lord. Surely, as the sovereign and omniscient God, He must have thoughtfully planned this occasion. It is impossible to think that Jesus did not know that He was displaying an example of leadership that early morning.

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2009-02-23_1234_1_VillageSheep The God of the Christian faith is more amazing than one can put into words. We try, and this article will be an inadequate attempt to do that, which will surely become evident in only a few moments. As stunned and joyful as a believer may often be at who He is and what He has done, His nature remains simply too magnificent for His followers to grasp. One of His characteristics that staggers us is His servitude. How can this perfectly sovereign, powerful, intelligent God be a servant?

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We have come to the final part of the Lord’s Prayer: “For Yours is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever.” This last sentence is no longer found in most modern translations because it isn’t in the best and oldest manuscripts. Nevertheless, I’m going to include it, since this is the way most of us in this contemporary culture have learned it, and I don’t find it to be anti-biblical in any way.

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