It is indeed a paradox to be a leader and yet a servant. Leadership is often closely associated with rights and privileges while servanthood connotes duties and obligations. The impact or influence of the leaders’ nature, character, purpose or pursuit upon any organization is always enormous.
It is often the leaders who determine to a very large extent the product, the output, or the overall performance of an organization. It is therefore an aberration for an organization with corrupt leaders to produce good products.
The Scripture states: “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Luke 6:43 NKJV).
Without mincing words, the disheartening and appalling spiritual and moral condition of the Church today is a clear reflection of her human leadership condition. Our spiritual bankruptcy and moral depravity is the offshoot of our leadership bankruptcy.
The Scripture states: “For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed.” (Isa. 9:16 NKJV).
“O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.” (Isa. 3:12b NKJV).
Until there is a spiritual reformation in the present Church leadership, we should not expect a true revival or any significant positive changes in the Church.
The Scripture says: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” (Matt. 12:33 NKJV).
Among several things a reformation is needed in the concept, model or style of leadership that is presently widely practiced, accepted and celebrated in our churches today. We need to go back to the Bible to search and discover the true definitions, principles, priorities and purposes of godly leadership.
It is so sad and shameful today that church leadership is no longer different in nature, style, drive, goal and pursuit from that of the world. It is obvious to all that many of our leaders in the Church are proud, boastful, egocentric or self-centred, immoral, corrupt, power-drunk, greed-driven and fame-driven.
Denominations, churches and ministries today are shamelessly competing with one another and striving tirelessly to outshine one another. Without any iota of shame our church leaders today wash their dirty linens in the public, seeking and finding opportunities to run down their fellow ministers who they regard as their competitors or rivals.
The Church today now seems to be like a business or political world where everyone is competing with one another, or competing for something. We desperately need true reformation in the Church leadership. It is only those who are spiritually blind or immature that will not admit or subscribe to this.
The leadership model or style that can produce a glorious Church – holy and without any spot, wrinkle or blemish – is Jesus’ leadership style. This is servant-leadership. This is also the model of leadership that the New Testament Church adopted.
Unfortunately today, we have despised and set aside this perfect leadership model. We need to take a closer look at Jesus and the early apostles with a view of discovering and understanding the true meaning, nature and goals of servant-leadership.
A Servant-Leader is simply a leader who serves according to the pattern of Christ. A servant-leader does not rule, oppress, boss or order people around while he does nothing himself.
When dispute arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest, Jesus summoned them, saying: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:25-28 NKJV).
Jesus Christ is our perfect example of a Servant-Leader. Though He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, yet Jesus came into the world not to be served, but to serve us and to give His life as a ransom for us.
Servant-Leadership connotes sacrifice or self-denial. Any leader who clings tenaciously to his rights and privileges cannot be a servant-leader. A servant-leader is one who is dead to himself and one who chooses to deny himself daily, and one who willingly sacrifice his personal ambitions, comforts or rights for the sake of the gospel and the people he ministers to.
Though Jesus Christ was a King of glory, yet he laid aside His glory and made Himself of no reputation so as to serve us.
The Scripture speaks of Jesus, “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philip. 2:6-8 NKJV).
What a great sacrifice! This is what servant-leadership is all about.
The early apostles were also known for their great sacrifices. They never clung to their rights and privileges. They were never a burden to God’s people.
Apostle Paul boldly says: “And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.” (2 Cor. 11:9 NKJV).
As modeled by Jesus, a Servant-Leader is first of all a God-pleaser. Jesus lived only to please God His Father.
Jesus said, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” (John 8:29 NKJV).
He submitted perfectly to His Father’s will. He publicly said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38 NKJV).
Jesus did nothing of Himself or for Himself, but kept His Father’s commandments.
He said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10 NKJV).
A Servant-Leader is God-centred and God–focused. He is a God-chaser and God–pleaser. He is unreservedly yielded to God and fully committed to God’s purpose or vision.
Like Jesus Christ, a Servant-Leader seeks to do nothing of himself or for his vain glory. Like the early apostles, a Servant-Leader’s ultimate aim or desire is to be well-pleasing to God (2 Cor. 5:9).
Only Servant-Leaders could boldly declare like the early apostles that they “have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor. 4:2 NKJV).
Unfortunately, many of our leaders today have not given up the secret things of shame. Many are still neck-deep in pornography, adultery, lust and immorality. Many are still walking in false ways, full of hypocrisies, and handling the word of God deceitfully.
The early apostles, unlike many of today’s church leaders, never defrauded, exploited, or manipulated God’s flock using flattering words or prophecies. Neither did they seek glory from them nor made demands as apostles of Christ.
Apostle Paul boldly declares: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness–God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” (1 Thess. 2:4-7 NKJV).
Unlike the early apostles, sadly, many of today’s church leaders have become very burdensome to God’s people. God’s people are coaxed and cajoled into financing and sustaining their flamboyant, extravagant and prodigal spending and lifestyle.
It is so unfortunate that many of our church leaders today are unwilling to let go of any of their rights and privileges as leaders. They constantly make demands for their rights and get upset when and where they don’t receive special or preferential treatments.
It is so sad that many church leaders today have made themselves lords over those entrusted to them. Rather than serving and ministering to God’s people, the people are compelled always to serve and minister to their needs.
While God’s people under them are groaning under the heavy financial burden they have laid upon them, these self-centred men go about bragging about their riches, wealth or material possessions.
God will surely deliver His flock from their mouths.
Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.” (Eze. 34:10 NKJV).
Beloved, we may not experience true revival in the Church until there is a restoration of Jesus’ style of leadership – Servant-Leadership. “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Luke 6:43 NKJV).
Spiritual reformation in today’s Church leadership starts with a genuine repentance from those of us in leadership position.
We must admit that we have not devoutly, justly and blamelessly conducted ourselves among God’s people like the early apostles of Christ (1 Thess. 2:10). We have failed woefully to show God’s people by our lifestyle how they ought to walk and to please God (1 Thess. 4:1). We must humble ourselves before the LORD, repent of and forsake our evil ways.
We must also be willing to renounce our sinful and worldly ways. We must consider and set Jesus before us as the only perfect model of leadership. We must desist from seeking to pattern our lives and ministries after some “famous and successful,” but worldly, extravagant and ungodly leaders.
God’s people must also begin to pray fervently and persistently for men and women in the leadership position in our churches. Church leaders are men and women of the same frail nature like other men. Though many of them proudly parade themselves as super human beings, yet they are mere and vulnerable men like any humans.
Our leaders need our compassion and intercession much more than the prophetic impartation or blessing we are passionately seeking from them.
Lastly, we must desist from constantly feeding the ego of egocentric leaders in our churches. Friend, don’t let any leader cajole, coax or compel you into financing or sustaining his extravagant spending and lifestyle.
If you truly desire a true revival or reformation in our generation, you must refrain from sponsoring, promoting or encouraging by any means any leadership styles in the Church that is contrary to Jesus’ leadership style – Servant-Leadership.