A call to Radical leadership- to be a servant of all
I have seen people who are in leadership abusing the power they have been entrusted with for self aggrandizement. Power, position and money are the three things that seem to drive many of the Christian leaders today and then there is the occasional sex scandal that pulls down a well known leader. Leaders are willing to do anything to stay in power and stake their claim for position. I was in a conference recently and I saw how a well known Christian leader was manipulating the organizers to make sure that he gets the maximum mileage and exposure in that conference and to top it all he had the audacity to publicly proclaim and even went to the extent of displaying his vast influence to the audience present. It was a pretty obnoxious sight.
I have also seen good Christian leaders who in their early days rose through the ranks through sheer hard work and commitment and once at the pinnacle of power totally forget the route they came in and tend to behave like a pampered bully out to get all the perks and privileges. You wonder, “unbelievable is that the same guy, what on earth got into him?”
Today Christians seem to like everything “Mega”, it is mega church with superstar pastors and their cult following, they relish the status and calls it anointing and anyone who casts a word of aspersion is a blasphemer who has committed an unpardonable sin worthy of damnation. Well nothing wrong with Mega churches and the amazingly gifted pastors who lead it, till that becomes a total personality driven venture. Where is the church leading to? The so called main line churches are struggling to stay afloat and keep the flock together but still frozen frigid unwilling to budge from their traditional mindset and steadily losing sheep to the fast growing churchatainment ones. (Entertainment seems to be the rule of the game today, if the church fails to entertain it is doomed)
Well the irony is that all of them claim to follow the same master who owned nothing except the tunic He wore, a suffering servant, humble to the point of death, common to the common man, identified with the poor, sick and downtrodden and He called His servants to “follow” Him. He spoke to the 'masses' but He didn't bask in its glory, He was followed by multitudes but was not a superstar celebrity who needed a bunch of bouncers to keep the crowd at bay, He performed miracles and healed many but never publicized it for personal glory in fact many times He shied away from the public gaze. He developed servant leaders and empowered them to take over and succeed from where He left off unlike today’s leaders who build up personal spiritual empires and their only succession plan is their progeny who will inherit these personal kingdoms.
How far away have we come from the masters teaching and His life? We have conveniently detached Jesus’ teaching from His life. Today we have no qualms in preaching about His teaching to others and call for obedience but hold on to an entirely different model of life for ourselves and shamelessly explain it away or even justify it from some unrelated passages from the scripture. I recently heard a Christian leader who flaunts wealth proclaim that “I am the son of a King so I will live like a prince” entirely forgetting the fact that the King was providing for this so called “Prince” from His subjects who were giving from their hard earned money to sustain this leaders extravagant lifestyle, well the sad fact was that the subjects were blissfully unaware and had no clue that they were being spiritually leeched.
Can a Christian be a leader and yet be a servant of all? Can he lead and serve as Christ led, well that might be a tall ask but that is exactly what apostle Paul meant when he said “imitate me as I imitate Christ”. Can a Christian truly insulate himself from the trappings of power and position and truly serve the Church as many have done and as many unknown servants of the Lord are doing now in the different corners of the world? Today for a Christian leader the biggest fear is to be ‘unknown’, to serve in obscurity. I have heard people say if you are not known or popular then you “lack anointing”. For some leaders I have seen after being in a position or power for long it is hard to even imagine without it, because that has become their identity, the title defines who they are. So they cling on to it, they play dirty politics and put to risk their church and their organizations.
What the church needs today, what the body of Christ is desperately longing for is radical leaders who are Christ centered and others focused than self focused and self absorbed. Leaders who are willing to serve, willing to give up their rights, who are open and brutally honest with themselves and with others so that the people whom they serve don’t have to look through a well crafted facade but will clearly see humble cross-broken leaders. This does not happen overnight, this happens through painstaking process of time spent in the crucible of prayer, soaked in the word of God resulting in painful life-change and deeply touched by the Holy Spirit to see our ‘egos’ crumble and our ‘self’ depreciating and Christ increasing in prominence in our lives. As A.W. Tozer has rightly surmised, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
I close with what our master said to His disciples in Mark 9:35, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”