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What does it mean to lead among the church?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2011 in elders, service | 52 comments

What does it mean to lead among the church?

In Scripture, several terms are used to describe leaders. One term, of course, is “leaders” (or the verb form “leading”). (Luke 22:26, Acts 15:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:13, Hebrews 13:7, Hebrews 13:17, Hebrews 13:24). Other terms such as “elders” and “overseers” are also used to refer to those who are leaders among the church. (Acts 14:23, Acts 15:2-6, Acts 15:22-23, Acts 20:17, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 5:17, Titus 1:5-7, 1 Peter 5:1)

There are other terms that are often associated with leaders among the church. (apostles, teachers, pastors/shepherds) However, these terms are generally related to spiritual gifts, and not necessarily with leading. (Although, anyone exercising any spiritual gift for the purpose of serving others could be said to be leading others as well.)

As we consider what it means to lead from the perspective of Scripture, there are a few points that we should start with. First, the writers of the New Testament never use the term for “ruler” when referring to a follower of Jesus Christ, despite some unfortunate translations especially of Hebrews 13:17. Second, the authors of the New Testament never say that one brother or sister is “over” another brother or sister (or a group), again despite some unfortunate translations especially of 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. Third, in Scripture, leading is never about making decisions for others.

So, what is leading among the church? According to Jesus, there is one overriding trait of any who lead among the church. What trait is that? Service. I’m not talking about “servant-leadership;” I’m talking about service. As Jesus said, “Let the greatest among you be as the youngest and the leader as the servant.” (Luke 22:26) Jesus, as the ultimate leader, said of himself, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28). It is perhaps most important that these last two statements were made in the context of two of Jesus’ followers jockeying for position among the others.

Thus, if someone wants to be a leader among the church, they must begin (and end) with serving others. When people begin following your example of serving others, then you are a leader in the way that Jesus defined leadership. Also, when you follow someone because they are serving others, then you are following a leader in the manner that Jesus instructed. For the church, leading = serving. Nothing more, and nothing less.

But, what about the importance of the character of leaders? Yes, Paul lays out several characteristics of those whom the church recognizes as leaders (whether they are called “elders” or “overseers” or even something else). You can find these characteristics in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-8. The characteristics listed in these passages are the same as characteristics listed in other sections of Scripture for all believers. Even the famous “able to teach” description refers to all believers, who are responsible for teaching one another. (For example, see Matthew 28:19-20, Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.)

Thus, the church recognizes (some say “appoint”) leaders when they live in a manner that all followers of Jesus Christ should live. What is the purpose for recognizing these leaders? The church does NOT recognize leaders so that the leaders can do all the work or even all the important work. Instead, the church recognizes the leaders so that the church know whose example to follow.

And, this leads me to the final important aspects of leaders among the church. As Scripture points out (especially through Peter in 1 Peter 5:1-3), leaders do not control people nor do they exercise authority over people. Instead, their influence is their the way they live their lives. The way they follow Jesus and trust God is to be an example for other believers, especially those who are immature in the faith.

The importance of example is also seen in Hebrews where the author says, “Remember your leaders, whoever spoke the message of God to you, carefully examining the outcome of their way of life in order to imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

Again, among the church, leading is not making decisions or controlling others. Leading is serving and living as an example of what it means to follow Jesus Christ and trust God.

(By the way, the image attached to this post is my favorite image related to leading among the church. If we are not serving people – getting our hands dirty – then we are not leading.)


52 Comments

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  1. 6-15-2011

    But who is in charge?

    One of your best posts ever. There is a lot of chatter about church leadership and the proper church governance model but all of it is trying to decide who makes decisions, who is in charge. Leading, as you point out, in Scripure is not about telling the rest of the church what to do but serving in such a way that others will emulate you and follow your example. It seems like a lot of the arguments of church leadership assume that someone who leads is making decisions and telling others what to do when in fact it simply comes down to serving others.

  2. 6-15-2011

    I believe that webs followers are also at blame because we choose to follow position and personality rather than people with scriptural leadership qualities. We want our ears to be tickled and to see the flash over serving and living a quiet life of godliness. Thoughts?

  3. 6-15-2011

    Joe, I think that is a good point. We get exactly the leaders we ask for because they do everything for us so we don’t have to.

  4. 6-15-2011

    Arthur,

    Thanks again for the kind words about this post. I’m humbled by your superlatives. :) Yes, many of the arguments about positions and polity begin with decision making.

    Joe,

    Absolutely! That applies to web followers as well as author, podcast, and conference speaker followers.

    -Alan

  5. 6-15-2011

    Alan,

    These truths seem to be the blind spot for many claiming to be “leaders; too many blank spots on the screen.

    Congregations want the traditional leadership model, an orator/motivator/salesman who can increase numbers in the pews, but where is the discipleship model?

    Arthur is right!

  6. 6-15-2011

    Aussie John,

    The current methods of living as the church – what is typically called “doing church” today – has little for servants as leaders by example. Hopefully, this will change.

    -Alan

  7. 6-15-2011

    “webs followers” = “we as followers” while typing on an smart Phone. :)

  8. 6-16-2011

    Hi Alan,
    Great post. So many times you write thoughts that mirror so specifically what God has taught me. Thanks so much for putting into clear words what I often try to express to others. Hundreds of years of a distorted leadership paradigm in the church and inaccurate translation(as you mentioned)causes many people to totally miss what “leadership”should really look like. You have written some great stuff on this topic. You can be sure that I am going to link this on both Twitter and Facebook.
    Blessings,
    Timmy

  9. 6-16-2011

    Well said. I am in a study of the book of Titus and these very issues came up in our discussion. Thanks for posting. Lamar

  10. 6-16-2011

    Alan

    I applaud your efforts to “re-define” the word “Leader.” ;-)
    Your writing to “re-define” “Leader” as “Service” is refreshing and challenging.
    And I appreciate your reasoning as you lay it out. Good stuff.

    BUT, the definition for “Leader” most people understand is tough to shake.

    Dictionary
    Leader – the person who leads or *commands* a group, organization, or country.
    Command – to give an *authoritative order.*
    Leaders command and give authoritative orders. People expect it and want it.

    I knew early on I didn’t have the right stuff to be an official elder/overseer/leader.
    NOT blameless, holy, and just. Family NOT in order and too argumentive. ;-)

    I knew I couldn’t live up to 1 Tim 3 and Titus.
    After leaving “The Corrupt Religious System” thru much pain, tears, and
    “Spiritual Abuse” I realized I never met anyone else who can either. Oy Vey!!! :-(

    You now call them “characteristics.” I still like “Qualifications”for elder/overseer.
    Characteristics seems “Lite” like we can ignore a few. NOT all are important.
    Qualifications sounds more official. More like a “Law” – “Must Be” Blameless.
    And, like the Law, if we live by the law and break one we’ve broken them all.

    In my experience…
    NO ONE can meet, or live up to, the “characteristics.” (Qualifications)

    If NO ONE meets the “characteristics.” (Qualifications)
    Will they remove themselves from that recognition of being appointed – leader –
    and become a good example to the flock? ;-)

    Now I just let people know there are NO human Leaders in the Church of God.

    Only Jesus…

  11. 6-16-2011

    Alan

    How many leaders? How many congregations? How many believers? How many “Pastor/Reverends?”
    Take Paul’s/God’s qualifications for “Elder/Overseer” seriously today? ;-)

    1 Tim 3:2 KJV – An “Elder/Overseer“ **must be** blameless…

    That “must be” is the same Greek word as – …You “must be” born again. John 3:7 KJV.
    Seems to be a small word but very important.

    It’s Strongs #1163, die. – It is necessary (as binding).
    Computer – Thayers – necessity established by the counsel and decree of God.

    An “Elder/Overseer“ **must be** – Hmmm? Very important or…?

    **Blameless** How important is this word?

    Webster’s – Without fault; innocent; guiltless; not meriting censure.
    Synonyms – faultless, guiltless, innocent, irreproachable, spotless, unblemished.
    Computer – Thayers – Blameless – that cannot be reprehended,
    (cannot be, rebukable, reprovable, cannot find fault)
    not open to censure, irreproachable.

    Strongs #423 – anepileptos – inculpable, blameless, unrebukeable.

    How many, who honestly examine themselves, seriously considering these qualifications,
    can see themselves as **blameless,** without fault,
    and thus qualify to be an “Elder/Overseer?” A “Pastor/Reverend?”

    And if you can see yourself as **blameless;** Is that pride? And no longer without fault?

    The Bible talks about “Elders/Overseers.“ And **qualifications** for “Elders/Overseers.“
    Can’t have one without the other – Can you? :-)

    And this is only one of many “very tough qualifications.”

    Jesus – He’s the best overseer. Yes? ;-)

  12. 6-16-2011

    Alan

    Here are two more qualifications for elder/overseer
    that seem tougher then “must be” blameless. :-)

    Titus 1:6-8
    **If any be blameless,** the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For **a bishop “must be” blameless,** as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, *just,* ** holy,** temperate;

    Just
    Strongs #1342 dikaios — KJV – righteous 41, just 33, right 5, meet 2; 81
    innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively):– just, meet, right(-eous).

    Thayers –
    1) righteous, observing divine laws, keeping the commands of God
    1a2) innocent, faultless, guiltless
    1a3) used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed
    to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification in the heart or life.

    Holy
    Strongs #3741 hosios {hos’-ee-os} KJV – holy 4, Holy One 2, mercies 1, shall be 1; 8
    intrinsic or divine character, hallowed (pious, sacred, sure):– holy, mercy, shalt be.

    Thayers
    1) undefiled by sin, free from wickedness,
    religiously observing every moral obligation, pure holy, pious.

    “Must be” blameless, just and holy are three very tough qualifications. Yes? ;-)

    If a leader, an “elder/overeer,” doesn’t meet “ALL” the qualifications…
    Will they remove themselves and become a good example to the flock? ;-)

    If they don’t remove themselves…
    Now what do we do? :-(

    Jesus… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul… :-)

  13. 6-16-2011

    In my understanding, the church is a spiritual family. There will always be those in a family who are older spiritually, but the goal is for everyone to become spiritually mature and become a spiritual parent for others. In reality, the maturity of an elder that is laid out in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 is the character that every believer should grow into over time. When Paul told Titus to go back to the cities where they had started churches and recognize elders, it was to recognize the work that the Holy Spirit had already done in the lives of those men who had pursued God more wholeheartedly, and who had thus grown to maturity more quickly. The people in the church who had already been around these men would realize they were examples and that they were already doing the work of especially caring for the believers. The benefit of recognition is particularly for the new people that become a part of a church family, so that as Alan stated they would know whose example to follow. It does really seem clear as you read the epistles that the most important role of an elder is to be an example. I like how Paul told the Thessalonians- ” We were an example for you. You followed our example, and now you have become an example for others.”

  14. 6-16-2011

    Joe,

    Gotta love auto correct. “Web followers” works also. :)

    Timmy,

    Thanks for commenting and for sharing my post!

    Lamar,

    Yes, I agree! Titus 2 especially!

    A. Amos Love,

    I was wondering if you were going to comment. :) Yes, some choose to use other words besides “leader” and “lead.” That’s fine. Of course, there are other words in your comments that you will either have to change or define. By the way, I think you will find it helpful to move away from the KJV and Strongs, especially Strongs.

    -Alan

  15. 6-16-2011

    Alan. Suggestions for alternative to strongs?

  16. 6-16-2011

    Brother, this is a great post! Very simple and very clear. What you shared here cuts away many years of the error of the heretical teaching of ‘subordinationism’ that much of the church bases its system around, Thanks for sharing your insights:)

  17. 6-16-2011

    Joe,

    If you don’t know Greek and can’t use a Greek lexicon, then I’d suggest reading as many English translations as possible. You’ll get a better feel for possible English interpretations in each context.

    Jamal,

    I appreciate the kind words!

    -Alan

  18. 6-16-2011

    Leadership involves authority under control, grace and wisdom. One example of this is where Paul tells Philemon in vs. 8 (ESV)..”Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required…” “Command” is a term that Paul sees at his disposal as having the authority of an apostle, but he prefers to appeal to Philemon’s love as his motivator. (NIV = order you) (Amplified = charge you) The point is that genuine biblical leadership is bold, strong, courageous and authoritative, under grace, wisdom and love. The simple idea of a communion service signifies that someone is delegating functions. That is authority under grace. I fear that the extreme dictatorial models might cause us to have a knee jerk reaction to the opposite extreme. Let’s be balanced brethren.

  19. 6-16-2011

    Azuero,

    Thanks for the comment. Do you think it’s important that Paul said he would NOT command Philemon to do what is required? Also, what do you mean by “simple idea of a communion service”? What Scripture passage are you finding that in?

    Actually, I’ve never experienced extreme dictatorial models, so I’m not reacting to that. Instead, I’m trying to interpret Scripture.

    -Alan

  20. 6-16-2011

    I wonder if some of the distinction gets confused between the way the world leads others and the way Christians are to lead one another is because they both can look similar in many ways on the surface.

    Once you get past the obvious rulership with authority vs serving with humility, and set aside both believers and unbelievers who are obviously leading primarily to serve their own needs and desires, good (“highly effective”) worldly leaders and church servants do many similar things. Both seek to lead by persuasion not by power, sacrifice themselves for others rather than sacrificing others for themselves, provide models and examples worth following, work to enable others to function, encourage others, inspire others, submit to others, etc.

    With so much visible overlap, it becomes easy to blur the lines and confuse one for the other.

    I think the core difference is internal and therefore not so easily observed. Biblical servants have given up their own lives–the whole self-protective, self-promoting, and self-glorying motives that underlie the actions of the lost and of the immature believer. Biblical servants have made some progress in extricating themselves from being the center of their world and see the work and welfare of others as more important than their own. Serving others is not a means to an end.

    And while unsaved and immature believers may also learn that acting in these ways outwardly is an effective leadership style, they do so because it provides the means to their desired end, not because they are coming to the end of themselves.

    Mature christians who serve others have substantially accepted the end of their own self-importance, letting go of their own centrality in the universe. This not only affects their motivations for leadership, it affects their motivations and reactions to everything, and their character transforms.

    I think this is largely why we should “lay hands on no man too quickly” (not hastily recognize someone as an elder). It takes a good deal of time and observation and experience together, to discern one style from another. And we best do this by observing their character expressed through their overall behavior as described in I Tim 3 and Titus 1

    By the way, for most of the record in Acts, elders were recognized within 6 to 18 months of their becoming believers. Apparently, it need only take that long to reach an observable level of maturity under biblical conditions.

  21. 6-16-2011

    So often i’ve seen “leaders” lead based on either serving the vision that “God” has given that individual for “their” church or lay leaders/lower level leaders leading others to accomplish the the vision that has been given to the senior pastor (one person).

    So, often, the serving that is going on is to the vision of the lead leader and not to one another. Therefore, the serving is often self serving wrapped in swaddling clothes, i mean Jesus name. I do know that most leaders have good intentions, but traditions and self-importance often overpower those intentions. It feels nice to be looked up to and served and put on a pedestal.

    A persons “vision” is usually a part of them (which i think it should be) and it’s held close to their hearts. Parishioners equate a catchy vision and a strong leadership style as being from God. I have no objection to vision/direction from God, i welcome it. I guess i’m just against that vision being fleshed out in the church the way it is done in a business. It’s not typically caught in a business, but imposed on employees, etc.

    I’m far from having it all together, but the way that i see it is that most modern leadership in the church is just good business sense (or really bad in many cases) and little more. But that is the way it works i guess when you base a church gathering on a business model.

    Just serve EVERYONE out of your love for Christ and his bride, right? Holy Spirit, help ME to do this.

    I am starting to ramble, so if any of my thoughts are incomplete i apologize :)

  22. 6-16-2011

    Art,

    Yes. The whole idea of leading people in the secular sense is so antithetical to the idea of leading people as Christ directed.

    Where’s the chart?

    Joe,

    Exactly. If someone lays out a vision, and people are expected to follow that vision… that doesn’t sound like something a servant would do. Instead, a servant would help people determine God’s vision for them – which may be different than God’s vision for the leader.

    -Alan

  23. 6-17-2011

    as I commented to Felicity Dale

    Excellent article. BUT I still stand by the thrust of my argument to Roger…the problem of the term itself; its understanding and connotations in world AND in bulk of church. you cant give lengthy expositions of what the term actually means in Christ EVERY time its used. And the NUMBER of times it is discussed, used, focused on is also the problem relative to its use and focus in NT Church itself. Isn’t there another term we can use to break away from the flesh-ridden, anti-cross connotations which surrounds the term ‘leader’in the world we live? Most people, outside your own circle of influence, will be drawn to the subject for far less than New Creaton purposes (imo No. 1 problem with institutional churches).
    and also can we break away from our obsession with it and its function which is out of ALL proportion to the time and space NT gives the subject?

  24. 6-17-2011

    Can’t help it – “servant?”

  25. 6-17-2011

    Laura,

    I agree that the terms “leader” and “leadership” cause alot of problems today. But, then, the terms “church”, “preach”, “pastor”, “elder”, and many, many others cause problems as well. I don’t mind if people use those terms or use other terms as long as they are defined in a way that is consistent with Scripture.

    By the way, I also agree that “leadership” is discussed WAY too much in the church.

    Art,

    Yep… servant… would you prefer “slave”? :)

    -Alan

  26. 6-17-2011

    Alan – I was also wondering if I was going to comment. :-)

    It took me a whole day just to think about commenting. Because…
    We have really beat up this topic of leaders in the body of Christ. Oy Vey!!! :-(

    I respect your position – BUT – I have lot’s and lot’s of questions. ;-)

    1 – What about Thayers? Is that okay, or at least reasonable, in your opinion?

    2 – Where do you see Strongs as NOT being accurate for us wannabee scholars?

    3 – Where is Strongs missing it for 1 – Blameless 2- Just 3 – Holy?

    4 – And Alan, since you are…
    As one of “The greatest among us:” (Always becoming as the youngest, Lk 22:26.)
    Do you have a more accurate description for 1 – Blameless? 2 – Just? 3 – Holy?

    5 – Maybe a translation NOT quite so strict…
    Where I could qualify and be recognized as a “Leader/Elder/Overseer?” :-)

    And – That I also might be known as, and called, “The Greatest among us?” :-)
    If I can be recognized, and known as “Leader?” (As in Luke 22:26)
    Can’t I also be recognized and known as “The Greatest among us?” :-)

    6 – Why is it okay for someone to accept being appointed “Leader” when their
    “Characteristics” don’t match with 1 Tim 3 and Titus?

    7 – Which “Characteristics” can a wannabee “Leader” ignore?

    For me Jesus is the only “Leader” who has the credentials and can qualify. Yes? :-)

  27. 6-17-2011

    A. Amos Love,

    Wow… alot of questions.

    I did not say that Strong’s (or Thayer’s) is bad. But, they were both written before many new Greek manuscripts (NT and otherwise) were discovered.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to answer your other questions with a question of my own:

    Did Paul/Barnabas (Acts 14:23), Timothy (1 Timothy 3:1), or Titus (Titus 1:5) find anyone who perfectly matches the “qualifications” or “characteristics” of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, including the description “above reproach/blameless”? If not, then who did they appoint/recognize?

    Yes, I think Jesus tells us how to be “great” among the church, but it’s not the way the world see “greatness”.

    -Alan

  28. 6-17-2011

    Alan – No fair answering questions with a question. ;-)

    You ask…
    “Did Paul/Barnabas… find anyone who who perfectly matches the “qualifications?”
    If not, then who did they appoint/recognize?”

    How about… NO ONE…

    Didn’t Paul also leave us a way out “if” we can’t find someone who qualifies.

    In Titus 1:5, Paul tells Titus, to ordain elders in every city.

    But in verse 6 Paul leaves a way out (?) saying,

    6 – “If” any “be blameless.”

    This is a very large, little, word: “IF.”
    This “IF” is found many times in scripture. Yes?

    In verse 7 he explains why he leaves an opening.

    7 – For a bishop “must be blameless.”

    And I just never met one “leader/pastor/elder/overseer”
    as nice and as humble as one might be, no matter how much a “servant”
    who could live up to that one qualification, “Must Be” blameless/above reproach.
    Never mind all the other qualifications.

    Paul didn’t say “they” can grow into being blameless/above reproach.
    To be ordained bishop/overseer “they” must “be” blameless/above reproach.

    Titus 1:6 **If** any be blameless…
    Titus 1:7 For a bishop *must be* blameless…

    Who do you know who is “ blameless/above reproach,” without fault?

    I came pretty close for awhile. Being above reproach and humble at the same time.
    I came so close “my elders” even gave me a medal for being humble.

    Then, only one week later, they took it away from me when I wore it. ;-)

    NO – IMO – If someone “thinks” of themself as “blameless/above reproach”
    they are no longer humble but prideful and thus disqualify themselves.

    Only God, and sometimes me, know the hidden motives of my heart.

    Only God, and sometimes me, know “the idols” of my heart. Ezek 14:1-7

    Doesn’t God then talk to us, and direct us, according to those “idols” of the heart?

    Why isn’t “Servant of Christ” good enough? :-)

  29. 6-17-2011

    A. Amos Love,

    Check out Acts 14:23 again:

    And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (Acts 14:23 ESV)

    Apparently, they did find multiple people in every church.

    Yes, if “servant of Christ” or “brother” is not enough, then that person is not a mature follower of Jesus.

    -Alan

  30. 6-17-2011

    your intereaction with Amos

    Actually I believe the call of character is high (and impossible in our own strength) but increasingly essential in this rapidly darkening world.

    My other point would be that the letters of the New Testament are filled with teaching about being a new creation ONLY possible when we continually leave our old man in the grave. And most certainly the leader—or Shepherds as I prefer (all ministries should have the gateway protecting heart for the people of God)—should continually leave their old natures in the grave, enter into the new by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    and to all the ‘non-leaders’ but want-to-bes, its a noble ambition but walk dead to the old nature, enter into the new, and you already surpass the righteousness of many ‘leaders’ out there. And Jesus will use you greatly. He will recognise you and your beautiful obedience.

    not leadership, but the new creation is the issue

  31. 6-17-2011

    Alan – Nice talking to you in the moment.

    Didn’t you like the reference to *IF* any be Blameless? ;-)
    I thought that might have some value to this discussion.

    And I thought the joke about having my “humble”medal taken away – fit.

    *IF* someone “thinks” they are “Blameless/Above Reproach”
    Can they be humble? ;-)“ Blameless/Above Reproach?”

    Yes – In Acts 14:23, “They appointed elders.” And – what’s your point? ;-)
    It doesn’t say “why” they were appointed elders. Does it?
    It doesn’t say “They appointed leaders.” Does it?

    Jesus taught “His Disciples” NOT to be called Master/Leader in Mat 23:10 KJV
    For you have “ONE” Master/Leader. Even Christ.

    And none of “His Disciples” called themselves “Leader.” None – not one…

    Rom 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…

    Yes – To “Servants of Christ.”

  32. 6-17-2011

    Alan

    Have you considered the ant?

    Proverbs 6:6-8
    Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
    Which having NO
    **guide,**
    **overseer,** or
    **ruler,**
    Provideth her meat in the summer,
    and gathereth her food in the harvest.
    Proverbs 6:6-9

    Guide – 07101 qatsiyn from 07096
    KJV – ruler 4, prince 4, captain 3, guide 1
    1- chief, commander, dictator.
    2- ruler (of one in authority)

    Overseer – 07860 shoter {sho-tare’}
    KJV – officers 23, ruler 1, overseer 1; 25
    1- official, officer.

    Ruler – 04910 mashal {maw-shal’}
    KJV – rule 38, ruler 19, reign 8,
    dominion 7, governor 4, 81
    1-to rule, have dominion, reign
    2- to exercise dominion.

    Just about every seminary of the IC has in it’s mission statement
    that they are “training leaders.”

    But Jesus told His disciples not to be called master/leaders. Hmmm?

  33. 6-17-2011

    Laura,

    Yes, Those who “walk dead to the old nature, enter into the new” will serve others, just like Jesus served others. When we as the church recognize people serving others and maturing in their walk with Christ, we should also recognize these people as examples for us. That’s exactly what I’m talking about here. These kinds of people are leaders. I’m not talking about any other type of “leadership”.

    A. Amos Love,

    Your concern seems to be with people who are presenting themselves as leader-quality people. I’m not interested in that at all. In fact, I’ve typically found that those who serve others and mature in their faith (those that Peter said should be our examples) will not care whether or not they are recognized by the church at all. They will live for Christ regardless of what other people choose to do or not to do.

    I’m not talking about being called leaders. No, if someone requires that you call them any title, then that is a sign of immaturity.

    -Alan

  34. 6-17-2011

    Strongly agree with your comment to Laura, Alan. This is the point I was trying to make early about being a spiritual family. God’s desire is that every one of His children grow to maturity, and this is possible because we have His spirit who has made us into new people. At any given time there will be those who are older(elder) in their maturity. The most often used word concerning servants in the church is elder. The term pastor that is so frequently used by churches is only found once in the NT and refers to an equipping role or gift, not a position. The elders primary role is to be an example for others to follow, as you stated. It is interesting that in Titus, Paul refers to the role of the older, more mature, men and to that of the older, more mature, women. As several have clearly stated, our confusion in this area stems from having a worldly paradigm of leadership. I always tell people that you cannot rightly understand what Paul says about elders and deacons in the church, if you don’t see it through the lens of what Jesus said about leadership. Paul was only further informing what Jesus said about “leadership” in His kingdom- namely that He is the only leader and that we are all to follow His example of being a servant to all. Paul was certainly not teaching anything contradictory or setting up a new paradigm, yet the way leadership is often practiced in the church is highly contrary to the foundational principles that Jesus taught.

  35. 6-17-2011

    Timmy,

    Yes. This is why when I talked about “leading” among the church I always start with Jesus’ teaching.

    -Alan

  36. 6-17-2011

    Alan

    One of my concerns is – And I was in “Leadership,” this is NOT just a theory.

    When someone is recognized in a fellowship as “The Leader” or “a leader”

    “Leaders” by default come between believers and their God.

    People will look to a human – And NOT look to Jesus…

    To teach them, to lead them, to sustain them, to comfort them, to encourage them.

    People will become dependent on man and NOT dependent on Jesus.

    When folks come to me now – I often ask…
    Why are you asking me. I have to pray and go to Jesus to find the answer.
    I’m just a brethren – What is Jesus telling you to do? Why don’t you pray?
    You have to get it from Jesus for yourself.

  37. 6-17-2011

    A. Amos Love,

    You said, “‘Leaders’ by default come between believers and their God.” Yes, but leaders as Jesus described them never come between believers and their God, but always serve others and live as an example to help other move toward God.

    If someone operates by “default” then there’s a problem.

    -Alan

  38. 6-17-2011

    Hi Alan, we are never going to agree on this, though that is a fabulous teaching, the whole premise makes my heart groan. I left IC because of its preoccupation with leadership; and the damaging influence it inspired in others…a multifaceted layers of ungodly, uncrucified longings, dissatisfaction, ambitions, sins; demonic problems such as manipulation and ungodly people surrounding ‘leaders’—whilst those functioning and their leadership systems shut down many precious giftings and calls, even unintentionally. And here I am reading continuously the same growing obsession and focus amongst Simple Church folk, thinkers, writers.

    The call to be new creations does not make you a leader, it is for all; I believe God is longing for us to have the revelation of being a new creation (not head knowledge). Then we will enter into and see the ministry of the ‘sons’ of God in this world, living from the new as Jesus (and Paul) did; not dragging around our old sins/nature/hang ups/baggage, but leaving them in the grave, and doing greater things than even Jesus did. A kingdom of new creations here in the world…kings and priests (kjv). I continually enter into the new but I reject the label of leader …yuck unless you name every child of God a ‘king’ as Paul has.

    I believe the enemy even from the days of Paul, has attempted to rob this vital aspect of the gospel, the aspect which would have seen a kingdom of kings and priests moving across the world. He has done a very good job. The undersgtanding of ‘Leadership’ imo is his major instrument shutting down the effectiveness of God’s people.

    the Gospel
    Jesus died to break the power of the world, the devil and OUR FLESH/the old adamic nature
    In Him our old (Adam) nature dies (ie no power over us any more)
    In Him our old (Adam) is buried
    In Him we are raised into newness of life
    In Him we are called to live and reign from this new nature

    As Paul said, ‘what counts is a new creation’ and every letter is occupied somewhere with insight into how we enter in, put on, live in the new. And he demonstrated it. Rom 12:1-2, is talking about the new, not our wretched failed old natures, of course God is not going to transform our uncrucified minds.

    I wish that there were as many conferences organised around this subject of the new creation; that we had as much of an obsession with teaching/articles/blogging about this body liberating revelation of the neglected part of the gospel message, as there is for the overkilled, over-hyped, generally elitist, millenium-tonnage of words on the fallen world’s subject of leadership.

    It is not so in the body of Christ. Sorry Alan. Agree to disagree?

  39. 6-17-2011

    Laura

    Wow – I wish I would have said that… Good stuff…

  40. 6-17-2011

    Laura-

    A big hearty Amen. :)

  41. 6-17-2011

    I agree with Laura too.

    -Alan

  42. 6-17-2011

    Alan –

    This has been some day. Thank you Jesus.

    And thank you Alan.Thank you Laura, Thank you Hutch, And Thank you – all the rest.

    I’ve been sitting, and typing, in Barns and Nobles since 9:30am. :-)

    It’s now 5:15pm.

    Can I go home now? ;-)

  43. 6-17-2011

    In short, I know we are saying the same things, but, crucially imo, from different premises.

  44. 6-17-2011

    that was a postscript, and then I saw the following comments! :)

  45. 6-18-2011

    I agree Laura- good job of expressing your thoughts. God gave us all His spirit that we might all be His prophets and His priests. The whole hideous clergy-laity divide has left many believers deceived into not realizing that God wants to speak to them and God wants to speak through them.

  46. 8-18-2011

    Alan, I think this article may be one of the most important ones you’ve ever posted here.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, my brother.

    Peace,
    kg

  47. 7-17-2012

    Alan,
    Thanks for posting this again! Good stuff! What would the Church look like if saints really believed who they were in Christ; if they really understood what really happened on that Day.

  48. 7-17-2012

    MamaT,

    Thanks for the comment. I think we would look like a bunch of servants who love doing for others.

    -Alan

  49. 9-25-2012

    your postings are very encouraging

  50. 7-3-2013

    To lead is to EXEMPLIFY Christ before the Brethren. Who then amongst the brethren is better placed to show true leadership ? The shepherds of the flock. Do they lead ?….ahem….well….umm….they do their best to assert leadership of a different kind which places them in all sorts of awkward positions, very unlike Christ. What sort of encouragement can the laity draw from such gross materialistic posturing ? At the beginning of their ministry they never let slide any opportunity to tell us that they “have been called” , but when things start shaping up they start to smite the sheep with all kinds of antichristlike behaviour such as inordinate pride ( ummm its a pride with no moral compass), belligerence, witch-hunting and excommunication of voices of Godly reasoning, cronyism, erection of bullying pulpits before the altar of God etc. Who is it that “called” them in the first place ? , is it THE HOLY SPIRIT or THE DEVIL?

  51. 7-4-2013

    Franklin, thanks for bringing this thread back to life. I read through all those comments again today. I saw a video this week that will resonate with many who share here. I didn’t know the right spot to put it Alan, but this is as good a place as any. You all will get it:

  52. 7-4-2013

    Franklin,

    The ones who truly shepherd God’s flock are not always the same as the ones who are given certain positions and titles, especially among the more traditional, organizational parts of the church.

    Eric,

    That’s a great video! I wonder why none of the people thought of going into the water first…

    -Alan