the weblog of Alan Knox

Images of Leadership

Posted by on Dec 5, 2009 in elders, office, service | 17 comments

Here’s an interesting exercise. Surf over to Google Images. (You may want to make sure that “SafeSearch” is on.) Then, search the image database for whatever term you or others use to identify the leaders among your church. Here are a few examples: “pastor,” “preacher,” “minister,” “elder,” “deacon,” “priest,” “presbyter,” “bishop,” “vicar.”

Now, remembering that Jesus said that we should follow those who serve (that is, our leaders should be servants – Matthew 20:24-28 for example), search for the term “servant“.

Why are the images so drastically different?

Of course, I suppose, there’s a better way to check this than by doing a Google search. Do the lives of our leaders look like the lives of servants?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-5-2009

    Hmm.. the #2 image result for servant was interesting

    How come so many of the “servant” images are either for companies or really dark?

  2. 12-5-2009

    Yeah…leaders as servants. It’s a biblical concept for sure. I had a pastor one time that considered himself to be a “servant leader”…but I think he meant he was a leader to those who are servants…not that he was a servant. I think he saw himself more as royalty…perhaps a royal leader of servants.

    Leaders as servants sounds like a contradiction of terms. I know Jesus was the ultimate leader and the ultimate servant…honestly, thus far, I haven’t seen an earthly example of this.

    So I guess the answer to the question, in my experience, would be no.

  3. 12-5-2009

    A correction to my comments, Jesus IS, not was, the ultimate leader and servant.

  4. 12-5-2009

    I think you are such a leader, Alan. You are constantly serving others.

  5. 12-5-2009

    What an interesting approach to comparing the two. I have a little collection of cartoons saved from Leadership Journal, many of which show the complete contradiction of institutionalized leadership and servanthood. These comics are so right on the mark, picturing how institutionalized leadership trys to “look” servant like but be arrogant and patronizing at the same time. These comics are only for laugh value for pastors. Their system of theology leaves them unable to be convicted by it.

    I remember 12 years ago when I was a good layman sitting in the pew each week pouring thousands into “the Lord’s work”. Our preacher was preaching on servanthood leadership. He said one of the terms in it’s cultural context mean a servant was a steward. A steward was a manger – a boss. The master trusted everything to this “servant”. A servant was the manager of many resources. So as pastor, he was a manager – boss in the church. That’s how you get from servant to boss in the same “biblical” word. Cough cough.

  6. 12-5-2009

    Joe (JR),

    Yeah, there were some interesting pics results for each search.


    You’re saying that we’ve changed the definition of “servant”, while Jesus changed the definition of “leader”? I agree.


    Thank you for the encouragement. I’m glad that there are servants (like you) for me to follow.


    Well, I supposed we have to find some way to get from “servant” to “boss”, otherwise we’d be left with the command to actually serve people.


  7. 12-6-2009

    Very interesting exercise. I too clicked on several of the links and was amazed to see what comes up. How did we ever get so far away from what the Bible describes for these terms?

  8. 12-6-2009


    Thanks for the links.

    Pics look like every self appointed “Leader” I’ve ever known.

    My present theology is, eventually

    Leaders = exercise authority = lord it over = abuse = always


    “I had a pastor one time that considered himself
    to be a “servant leader”
    …but I think he meant he was a leader
    to those who are servants…”


  9. 12-6-2009


    And how do we get back?

    A Amos Love,

    Jesus teaches leaders = servants = placing oneself under everyone else


  10. 12-7-2009


    I might have missed it.

    Where does Jesus teach leaders = servants?

    I can only find Jesus teaching “His Disciples” in Mat 23:10,

    “Not” to be called “master/leader”
    for you have “one master/leader the Christ.”

    King James Version –
    Neither be ye called masters:
    for one is your Master, even Christ.

    The Interlinear Bible –
    Nor be called leaders,
    for one is your leader the Christ.

    Phillips Modern English –
    you must not let people call you leaders,
    you have only one leader, Christ.

    Today’s English Version –
    nor should you be called leader.
    your one and only leader is the Messiah.

    The Amplified-
    you must not be called masters ( leaders )
    for you have one master ( leader ) the Christ.

    Jesus told His disciples not to be called “leaders” and none did.

    Ro 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    His disciples all called themselves “servants,”
    none called themselves “leaders.” None? None.
    None called themselves “servant-leader.” None.

    If Jesus instructed “His disciples” NOT to call themselves leaders
    and someone calls themself a “leader”
    or thinks they are a “leader;”

    Are they a “disciple of Christ?”

    Just wondering. Be blessed.

  11. 12-7-2009

    A Amos Love,

    But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. (Luke 22:26 ESV)


  12. 12-7-2009


    I do appreciate your vision of what a gathering could be,
    your desire to be a servant and ability to write on so many topics.
    I’ve just seen so much spiritual abuse from so called “leaders.”

    I have seen the dangers of “Titles,” of “Pastors,” and of “leaders.”
    Spiritual abuse for both the “leader” and those “being led”.

    I’m not not new to “ministering healing” to those
    who have been spiritual and emotionally abused by “leaders.”
    Folks who have been burnt, burnt out, kicked out,
    or crawled out of “the religious system.”
    With it’s leaders, spiritual authority, and
    other “heavy weights” put on folks shoulders.

    Christiandumb is often a bloody sport.

    I also spend a fair amount of time with pastors,
    “so called leaders,” who can’t do it anymore.
    Trying to run the show and please so many masters.
    Trying to please the denominational leaders,
    the congregation and it’s leaders, and of course Jesus.
    Who is often relegated to last place.
    Hmmm? So many masters, that’s tough; Yes?
    Peaching every week… and it better be good, being the CEO,
    the team leader, councilor, smiley face. etc. etc.

    I wanted you to know, I’m for you and not against you.
    I just have a different take on “leaders” in “The Church of God.”
    Jesus is “the only head” of the body, the church.

    I’ll try to explain in the next comment.


  13. 12-7-2009


    Sorry, still using the KJV.

    Luke 22:26 in KJV Makes me wonder if “leaders = servants” is the issue.
    Or, “servant” is the only option when you look at verses 24 – 27.
    And Jesus’ statement about why he is here among us.

    Luke 22:24-27
    And there was also a strife among them,
    which of them should be accounted the greatest.
    25* And he said unto them,
    The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them;
    and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
    26* But ye shall not be so:
    but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger;
    and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
    27* For whether is greater,
    he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth?
    is not he that sitteth at meat?
    but I am among you as he that serveth.

    Leader sounds like a “high” place.

    Servant sounds like a “low” place.

    And Jesus always taught “His Disciples” to take the low place.

    Isn’t Jesus’ teaching here about
    “not” doing it the way the world does it?
    With kings, (leaders of the people,)
    exercising lordship,(have dominion over)?

    And the natural world, the carnal mind, says,
    you have to have leaders.
    And Jesus says in Mat 23:10, you have a leader. Jesus.
    Ye concentrate on being “servants”
    and leave the rest to me, “The” Master/Leader.

    And the word “Chief” is Strongs #2233 hegeomai,
    which the ESV records as leader.

    Off my computer.

    2233 hgeomai
    KJV – count 10, think 4, esteem 3, have rule over 3, be governor 2,
    1) to lead
    1a) to go before 1b) to be a leader 1b1) to rule, command
    1b2) to have authority over

    So, one form or translation of “hegeomai” could be “leader.”
    But it is a “leader” who “has authority over” others, and
    Isn’t Jesus teaching here against this very thing?
    Ruling? Commanding? Exercising Lordship?

    2233 hegeomai also has other meanings, other flavors.
    Off my computer. – 2) to consider, deem, account, think.

    consider – to regard someone as having a specified quality.

    Sometimes hegeomai is translated “esteem” (respect, admire) in the KJV.

    Php 2:3
    …but in lowliness of mind let each “esteem” other
    better than themselves.

    1Th 5:13
    And to “esteem” them very highly in love for their work’s sake.

    Isn’t this taking the “low” place?

    TNKJAV – The New King James Amos Version – Luke 22:26

    But ye (My Disciples) shall not be so:
    (shall not be like the world, wanting to be the greatest,
    wanting to be like kings, ruling, commanding, and lording it over)
    but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger;

    and he that is chief “esteemed”, as he that doth serve.

    v27 …But I (Jesus) am among you as one who serves.

    And all “His Disciples” called themselves servants.

    Jesus loves me and forgives me all my sins…

  14. 12-7-2009

    A Amos Love,

    I understand. I agree with your statements, especially concerning the way that “leadership” is often understood. That’s why I said earlier that Jesus redefined leadership. For Jesus, leader = servant = placing oneself under everyone else, not authority figure.


  15. 12-5-2011

    At our legacy church once, the elders and pastors wanted to start “discipling” some of us guys and to begin with they wanted to demonstrate servant leadership and so they held this bizarre foot-washing ceremony — without informing anyone what they were gonna do. I for one was worried whether I had holes in my socks or jam between my toes. And I couldn’t help wonder what the point was. It surely was out of context for our culture. And of course nothing changed.

  16. 12-5-2011

    And here’s a test. Let’s call a moratorium on having a professional clergy class, then pastors would have to find another way to support them and their families and then they can be unpaid church volunteers, like those in their congregations who make the churches run. Then it would become a lot easier to figure out who the true servants are.