Tag Archive: Chief Shepherd


Peacock - CopyLeadership is determined by the extent you influence regardless of rank. And, contrary to how most local churches and denominations have been structured and governed, the New Testament church did not use or require hierarchy when it came to leadership. The elders, whether apostles, prophets, evangelists or pastors and teachers, had no rank in the body of Christ.  The respect due to them was by virtue of their calling to a particular role of servanthood in the body of Christ. Rank and titles did not exist, only roles.

The honor and respect that anyone received was the fruit that came from an environment of mutual submission. This atmosphere allowed for the recognition of one another’s roles. And, not only was this the case, but to further reinforce this counter-worldly-thinking, Paul said “On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are in fact indispensable, and the parts of the body that we think are less honorable are treated with special honor, and we make our less attractive parts more attractive. However, our attractive parts don’t need this. But God has put the body together and has given special honor to the parts that lack it,  so that there might be no disharmony in the body, but that its parts should have the same concern for each other” (1Cor. 12:22-25).

Those in the Body of Christ who were more mature were able to assist the Chief Shepherd as elders in shepherding the flock. God’s word, whether written or spoken, was the only authority. Consequently the elders had no more or less authority than anyone else. And yet, through their maturity and experience in the knowledge of God’s word they were able to be useful guides to each other and especially the young in the flock.

Sadly, this style of church was eroded over time by the desire for control and power among its leaders. And, in time, the church began taking on the very leadership styles of this world that Jesus told them, in Matthew 20:25-27 and 23:2-12, to stay away from. In these passages you will see that Jesus not only taught that we aren’t to lord it over one another, but also that we are not to even have authority over one another, nor use titles, because we are all brothers. See for yourself:

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant); And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (slave)” (Matt. 20:25-27).

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat … But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:2-12).

Rob

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“Servant leadership” is a misappropriation of Jesus’ words, where instead of being servants, we choose to be leaders with servant-like attitudes.  On the outset it seems right, but all the while we maintain the status quo of worldly hierarchical leadership that Jesus didn’t want among His people.  It never fulfills Jesus’ intention of simply having servants, who by their words and lifestyle, lead.

Servant leaders and servants appear on the surface the same, but the default of a servant is to serve and the default of a leader is to lead. Jesus asked for one of these. You cannot have both! Note, Peter wasn’t asked to lead the sheep, but rather care for them and feed them. Caring meant giving the Shepherd’s love and feeding meant giving the Shepherd’s Word. Peter and other leaders had nothing of themselves to give. They were simply servants serving Jesus’ love and word. Leading through serving, not serving by leading! The Chief Shepherd reserves the right to do the directive leading of His sheep. Corporately this is discovered through mutual submission one to another.

Consider Jesus’ words below and ask yourself if you are a leader who serves or simply a servant. There is a world of difference. The first has position, the second has none. Jesus asked for the latter not the former.

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes {position} of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them {position}, and they that are great{position} exercise authority upon them {position}. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant); And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (slave).” – Matthew 20:25-27

It may appear that it’s only a different attitude that Jesus asked for, but at closer inspection we can see that Jesus wants us to have neither the wrong attitude nor authority over one another in the body of Christ.  Paul’s words, “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves” – Phil 2:3b, best capture the attitude we are to have toward one another. Creating hierarchy automatically undermines this attitude.

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat {position}… But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts {position}, and the chief seats in the synagogues {position}, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi {title}. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth {title}: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters {title}: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.– Matthew 23:2-12

Brotherly mutual submission and hierarchical leadership are mutually exclusive ideas. You cannot have both! We are called to the former!

Jesus too, chose to be a servant who led, not a leader who served.

Are you a servant leader or are you leading as a servant?

Related post: Church Governance 101

The Bible passages with the inserted {words} are from a very insightful presentation http://biblicalelders.com/presentation.htm (Note: not all views in the presentation are supported by Light and Life Bible Ministries)

By Rob Morley

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