A Leader Like a Servant
“...he who leads, with diligence..."

By Jon W. Quinn

We all have differing opportunities, gifts and abilities. However, there is some measure of responsibility that belongs to all of us as we seek to live for Christ each day. And, it is true, some of us are better at some things then others of us are. Paul acknowledges this and writes to the church at Rome: “if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”   (Romans 12:7-8).

Of course, we all have some responsibility in all these areas. We are all to render service to one another. We all have some responsibility to teach and exhort. There is a time for all of us to give in some measure. All of us should exercise mercy, and finally, yes, there is also a measure of leadership that belongs to all of us.

Leadership in the Kingdom of Christ
Let us focus on that “leadership” part. There are various ways in which each of us can be and ought to be religious leaders, but not in some sort of religious hierarchy. In fact, Jesus rebukes that kind of leadership, and the attitudes that bring it into existence. He says, “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:10-12). Interestingly enough, true righteous leadership in the kingdom of Christ is here correlated to how diligently we serve. The world doesn't often look at leadership this way. The world is wrong again.

There are various texts that suggest “leading” and “following” (you cannot really have one without the other) in addition to the one above, as well as other terms that suggest the same kind of thing: leadership.

There is the obvious leadership of the overseers, or elders, in the local church (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

There is the father/husband leadership in the home (Joshua 24:15; 1 Timothy 3:5; 12).

There is the mother/wife leadership in the home (Proverbs 31:10-31; 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:5).

There is the basic leadership of being a good example of a disciple so that other Christians can learn about faithful living and be encouraged (Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:9).

A young believer is to work at being a good example of a believer by the way he lives thus becoming an encouragement to others to follow his/her lead (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).

All disciples should be “leaders by example” to unbelievers as they seek to persuade men about Jesus and lead them to glorify God and to salvation in Christ (Matthew 5:13-16; 1 Peter 2:12; 3:1,2).

So, these are various areas of leadership, and as Paul says, “he who leads, with diligence” - we ought to be diligent to lead righteously.

Do Not Become a Leader For the Wrong Reason
Sometimes people do some of the right things for the wrong reasons. Some even preach the gospel for ulterior purposes, for example, out of “selfish ambition” (Philippians 1:17). Consider some wrong reasons some seek leadership

1. Because one wishes to have authority and control. As we have already seen, righteous leadership in the kingdom of Christ is about service and rendering to God according to one's capacity and opportunity. It is not about control. This motive fits well under what Paul referred to as “selfish ambition.” It is a worldly motive and out of harmony with the mind of Christ. It is not an ego trip, nor is it something done for personal gain (Matthew 20:25-28).

2. Because if I don't no one else will. That may or may not be true in a given situation, but still it ought not to be the chief reason for becoming what the Lord already expects us to be. We ought to be faithful as disciples and meet all opportunities to lead others to Christ whether we are the only one to do so or not (James 5:9; 2 Corinthians 10:12).

3. Because I have to even if I don't want to. First, God loves a cheerful giver. If I give, and then complain and moan about it, it would have been better not to give in the first place (2 Corinthians 9:7). He wants us to give joyfully as we recognize the greatness of the blessings we have received and how indebted we are to Christ. Of course, we can never remove the debt we owe, but we can live for Christ and be glad for the opportunity.

4. Because, though unprepared and unready, I have to. I think we can all understand that ill equipped leadership is often disastrous. Whether it be an elder, a husband or father, a wife or mother, or any disciple, some preparation must take place. The Bible is pretty plain about what should be done before one is prepared to be an elder in the church, and we are all painfully aware of people becoming parents without having become anything close to being properly prepared to handle the responsibility. Likewise, if I try to lead others to Christ with my words, but my example is not what it ought to be, then I may do much more damage than good. We need to equip ourselves with a good knowledge of God's word as well as a good example of applying it to our own life (Matthew 7:1-5; 23:3-4; Romans 2:21-22).

Do Become a Leader For the Right Reason
But, we all need to become leaders, but with the right motive and goals. We should all become leaders…

1. Because God wants us to do so. We have already seen the various ways in which He tells us to becomes leaders, examples and managers. When we faithfully serve the Lord, every endeavor becomes high and noble, and He leads through us. Paul might teach the gospel by his words and his deeds, but it was God, through the power of the gospel, that was causing the growth (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 3:6-9).

2. Because the lost are without the salvation. Leading someone to Jesus the Savior is the best thing I can do for him. Until then, they are in a state of spiritual alienation from God (Ephesians 2:1-3). But God loves us all and desires to give us life (Ephesians 2:4-7). He does so by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). That faith comes by hearing the word, and it is up to us to proclaim it (Romans 10:17).

3. Because of the results. Salvation! Eternal life! A home with God! No more tears, sorrow or death! And not just for them! For you who believe as well! (1 Timothy 4:16).

Yes, Paul said that we, as disciples, should lead “with diligence” when our faith and the circumstances in which we find ourselves calls for righteous leadership. Are you being diligent to prepare and serve? “...but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” (Luke 22:26).
From The Bradley Banner 10/21/2007
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Return to Bulletins of the Month
Return to Homepage