Can we live without church leaders?

March 30, 2007 at 8:10 am 6 comments

Two things happened yesterday that bothered me. Both have something to do with “spiritual” leadership and make me wonder if the church would’nt be better off without leaders, as impossible as that sounds.

First, I received an email off site, that after telling me they enjoyed reading the blog said this: “There have been a number of times that I have wanted to write back (to me) but have been a little hesitant, not knowing who frequents the site”.  That was a downright scary statement.  I’m sure this person was not worried about my brother or nephew reading his comments.

The second thing that bothered me was something I read: Men and women in the Kingdom of God who do not have a healthy revelation of the weakness of their own flesh are dangerous if God anoints them for leadership and ministry.  They can wreak havoc in the Kingdom of God through pride.  There is nothing worse than a leader anointed in ministry who does not have a humble revelation of the weakness of his flesh. (I think this is a quote from Mike Bikle but I am not sure)

I think it is safe to say that many, if not most people, who are in positions of spiritual leadership either clearly understand this truth or they don’t.  There really is no middle ground.  The detox period from leadership I have had the last 18 months has shown me my own serious propensity was to lead from a position of control and authority rather than humility and weakness.  But I came by it as much through nurture as I did through nature. 

Sometimes I would like to call for a moratorium on the words leader or leadership and keep the moratorium in place until we can destroy the power positions of leadership that have become so prominent in the church.  This is not a biblical model, it is a secular one but the secular institutions are long awake to the reality that it doesn’t work.  At least it doesn’t work well or for very long.

What about using the title servant leader?  Honestly, I don’t think there would be many seeking the job if there was no opportunity for recognition or elevation.  Who among was would be just as willing to serve without the position of leadership?  Even using this term it feels like the emphasis is still on the leadership part. 

I am trying to work out the difference between leadership over and leadership among.  Understanding the difference is the key, I think, to being a true servant who is in a leadership role.

If we are not willing to serve without title, position or acknowledgement, recognition or role than we are not serving. 

Guess I still need more detox time because I am not sure I am willing…but I want to be.

By the way, there is no evidence that leaders from wherever, are screening the comments on this blog but it is sad that some of you are worried about it. 

We can live without leaders like that.


Entry filed under: Christianity, Church, Faith, Jesus, Thoughts.

Lee Akin, PBR Cowboy needs a miracle. It’s OK mama, let em be cowboys!

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Terry Armstrong  |  April 1, 2007 at 10:32 pm


    You said, “If we are not willing to serve without title, position or acknowledgement, recognition or role than we are not serving.”

    This has got to be the core, the essence of discipleship (death to self). And if we are not disciples who are we? …those who say “Lord, Lord” and do not do what the Father says to do? As the old song says so well, “Naught be all else to me save that Thou art.” I think I long to be there but suspect that much of the time I am fooling myself.


  • 2. A son  |  March 30, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    “Honestly, I don’t think there would be many seeking the job if there was no opportunity for recognition or elevation. ” I liked that part. And this part, “I am trying to work out the difference between leadership over and leadership among.” The difference, many times, is the religious spirit.

  • 3. Earl & Ruth Radmacher  |  March 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Greg,
    It has been awhile since I last wrote but you pressed my button with your remarks on
    leadership. You were getting close to what Jesus modeled in John 13:1-17. I believe that the most important passage in Scripture for believers is the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17);thus, that was the source of my latest book, The D
    Disciplemaker:What Matters Most to Jesus.

    It is interesting to note that when Jesus and the Disciples came into the Upper Room, none of the twelve volunteered to wash feet. All of them knew that feet needed to be washed after walking behind camels and donkeys on dung-strewn streets. And all of them could have washed feet but none of them volunteered. What was the problem?
    They were not servants and they needed a model of humility. Thus Jesus took off His outer garments and got down to the loin cloth of a servant boy. You know the occasion well and I don’t need to recount the episode for you. But the Divine application is powerful: “Do you know what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and
    you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Interestingly, Jesus did not promise blessing for knowing them but for doing them. We need to know before we do, but to stop with
    knowing without doing is to short-circuit the blessing.

    Leadership is one of the grace gifts (Rom. 12:8) which a pastor may have in his gift package. Eldership is a divine appointment conveyed by the congregation and it carries authority (Heb. 13:7, 17, 24). Those in authority need to see that everyone in the congregation over which he has been given authority is enabled to discover, develop, and deploy his/her gifts. There is not a single spiritual guru. Notice that although there are 243 usages of “disciple/s” in the Gospels and Acts, there is not one use in the Epistles. Have you ever considered that. Why is that? Because something marvelous happened at Pentecost. Every believer received one or more
    spiritual gifts. There are no ungifted believers in the local church. That is why I have done more than 500 Spiritual Gifts Conferences (“Mobilizing the Membership for Maximum Ministry”) since the first one I did at Arrowhead Springs for CCC in 1965.
    At this juncture in your life, I would invite you to take our Spiritual Gift Inventory (SGI)
    and perhaps surprise yourself.

  • 4. Deep Purple  |  March 30, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I like your open mind, I am also a Christian that is busy seeking the truth. And steadily I am making some progress. I received this quote today in my e-mail.

    “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.

    Andrew Carnegie”

  • 5. gk  |  March 30, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Having spent years in the area of leadership development, communications, conflict resolution, etc. I find it difficult to have anyone say there is no middle ground and accept that they truly understand “leadership”. There are many styles of leadership both in the religious and secular fields. Some work well in one area, some in another. I’ve found for years there are no absolutes. To say that anyone completely understands or completely doesn’t understand what their roles in “leadership” should be is naive. Some may have the understanding, but don’t have the skills to “perform” in different leadership situations. Others may have communication skills, but lack the understanding of working with others to have success with these skills. The comment that “leadership is a gift” is far from the truth. Leadership is learned! Most of what we personally do or think of as leadership is learned from our experiences, some good, some bad, some in the “middle”. In addition, we may have had some “training” in leadership based on patterns developed by the organizations we work with, some in the religious, some with volunteer organizations, and others in the world of work.

    Some people may have the “authority”, but do not have the position in an organization. They may call the “shots”, but they do so behind the scenes and not from the named leadership position. Others have named positions of leadership, but have no power or authority. Some are effective working as part of a team of “leaders”, while some much have complete authority or can’t function at all. The range is from one extreme to another. I may be happy with a “dictator”, while you might be happier with a “democratic” type leaders. In crisis, a dictator may be more effective that the democratic leader. As I said earlier, I don’t find that there are any absolutes in this area we call “LEADERSHIP!”

  • 6. jw  |  March 30, 2007 at 9:04 am

    I think sometimes we mix oversight/authority and leadership when actually they are two different things. Separating them out from each other might help us to better understand and live out both.

    Leadership is a gift, oversight is a responsibility. Leadership is directional, oversight is authoritative. A leader is someone we follow because we believe they can take us where we want to go. An overseer is someone we obey because we value the authority that God has placed in our lives. We submit to overseers, we follow leaders.

    I think a lot of our confusion and frustration comes from wanting all people in spiritual authority (overseers) to function as leaders (people we can follow directionally) and vice verse. The bottom line is that people who are horrible leaders can and often do land in positions of spiritual oversight. This is because the biblical qualifications for positions of oversight do not include the gift of leadership. Being given the responsibility of overseeing the flock is more of a character issue than a gifting issue. It’s one thing to guard the flock, another to lead it, another to feed it. All are necessary but not all necessarily come in one package.

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