REFORMATION IN CHURCH LEADERSHIP
“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.” (Matthew 20:27-28 NKJV)
Without mincing words, the disheartening and appalling spiritual and moral condition of the churches 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 amply affirms this truth.
Isaiah 3:12-14 – NKJV
12 As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.”
13 The LORD stands up to plead, and stands to judge the people.
14 The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders of His people And His princes: “For you have eaten up the vineyard; The plunder of the poor is in your houses. (NKJV).
Isaiah 9:16 – NKJV
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed.
Until there is a spiritual reformation in the present Church leadership we should not expect a true reformation in the Church. Why?
Because ungodly or corrupt leaders can only produce or give rise to ungodly or corrupt followers!
The Scripture testifies to this truth.
Matthew 12:33 – NKJV
33 “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.
Luke 6:43-44 – NKJV
43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.
44 “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.
Among several things, an urgent reformation is needed in the concept, model or style of leadership that is presently widely practiced, accepted and celebrated in the Church. We need to go back to the Bible to search for and discover the true principles 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.
Like many ungodly leaders of this world, many of our spiritual leaders in the church today 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 occasions to run down their fellow ministers who they regard as their competitors or rivals.
We desperately need a true reformation in the church leadership. It is only those who are spiritually blind or immature that will not admit this.
But what kind of leadership model or style does the Church need today?
Jesus’ leadership style!
The only style of leadership that God approves of in the Church is the Servant-Leadership. Jesus Christ taught and demonstrated to His disciples what it means to be a Servant-Leader.
The Lord Jesus’ lifestyle and principles are typical of a servant-leader, and it is God’s standard for all Church leaders.
Until this God-ordained style of leadership is embraced and adopted by men and women in the leadership positions in the Church, we should not expect a dynamic Church.
The virile and indomitable New Testament Church which turned the then world upside down and confounded all her adversaries was a product of Servant-Leadership.
Likewise, today’s spiritual weak, lukewarm, worldly and self-centred Church is a product of the present popular and celebrated “Egocentric-Leadership” in the Church.
The early apostles, unlike many of today’s church leaders, never defrauded, exploited, or manipulated God’s flock using flattering words or bogus prophecies. Neither did they seek glory from them nor make demands as apostles of Christ (1 Tim. 2:7).
We certainly need to take a closer look at Jesus and the early apostles’ leadership style 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 principles, pattern, or model of Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ is a perfect example of a Servant-Leader!
Even though the Lord Jesus Christ was the King of kings and Lord of lords, yet He came into the world not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for us.
When a dispute arose among the disciples of Jesus about who would be the greatest among them, the Lord Jesus rebuked them and taught them what it really means to be a leader.
Matthew 20:25-28 – NKJV
25 “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.
26 “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
27 “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–
28 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
As modeled by Jesus, a Servant-Leader is first of all a God-pleaser. The Lord Jesus lived only to please God His Father.
The Lord Jesus publicly 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).
The Lord Jesus submitted perfectly to His Father’s will!
He publicly announced, “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).
The Lord Jesus did nothing of Himself, by Himself, or for Himself! He kept His Father’s commandments.
Jesus 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-centered 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, by himself, or for himself. Like the early apostles, a Servant-Leader’s ultimate goal, aim or desire is to be well-pleasing to God (2 Cor. 5:9).
Paul clearly states this truth.
2 Corinthians 4:1-2 – NKJV
1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.
2 But we 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.
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.
Servant-Leadership connotes sacrifice or self-denial!
Any leader who clings tenaciously to his rights and privileges is not a servant-leader. A servant-leader is one who is willing to relinquish his comforts, rights and privileges for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Though Jesus Christ was the King of glory, yet He laid aside His glory and made Himself of no reputation so as to serve us.
The Scripture bears witness to the humility of Jesus.
Philippians 2:6-8 – NKJV
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 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.
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 said, “And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.” (2 Cor. 11:9 NKJV).
Unlike the early apostles, sadly, many of today’s church leaders have become very burdensome to God’s people. They coaxed and cajoled gullible children of God into financing and sustaining their flamboyant, extravagant and prodigal spending and lifestyles.
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 the flock of God entrusted to their care. 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 many church leaders today 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!
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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 reformation in the Church until there is a restoration of Jesus’ style of leadership – Servant-Leadership in the Church.
Spiritual reformation in today’s church leadership must start with a genuine repentance from those of us in leadership positions in the Church. We must admit that we have not devoutly, justly and blamelessly conducted ourselves among God’s people (1 Thess. 2:10).
We must admit that we have failed woefully to show God’s people by our lifestyles how they ought to walk and to please God (1 Thess. 4:1). We must humble ourselves before the LORD, appropriating His forgiveness and mercy.
We must also be willing to renounce our sinful and worldly ways, and set the Lord Jesus Christ before us as our perfect model of leadership.
God’s people must also begin to pray fervently and persistently for men and women in the leadership positions in the Church. Church leaders are men and women of the same frail nature like other men.
Even though many Christian leaders today proudly parade themselves as super human beings, yet they are mortal and vulnerable men like any human being. Our leaders need our compassion and intercession.
Beloved, if you truly desire a true reformation in the Church leadership today, you must refrain from sponsoring, promoting or encouraging by any means any leadership style that is contrary to Jesus’ leadership style (Servant-Leadership).
Desist from feeding the ego of egocentric leaders. Don’t allow any leader to cajole, coax or compel you into financing or sustaining his extravagant spending and lifestyle.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I receive boldness and wisdom today to refrain from promoting any leadership in the Church that is not Servant-Leadership, in Jesus’ name. Amen.