Leadership and Servanthood

At work yesterday I was reflecting on a book I had read on Spiritual Leadership (by J. Oswald Sanders) while   cleaning windows. In this book he commented on 1 Timothy 3:1, where Paul commends the desire in men to be overseers. It is an interesting thing that Paul encourages this ambition, saying “it is a fine work he desires to do” (NASB). In his book Sanders explains that this position was not a light one in those days, the leader would be the first to receive persecution, the onus is on him. In our day and age men and women eagerly desire leadership, both in the secular and Christian world, often because of the perceived lessoning of the work load they envision (any one who has ever been in any form of leadership knows this is a fallacy). They picture working hard, being the servant, for a while until they can achieve a position where they are no longer the servant but the boss of the servants. In our day, especially in spiritual leadership, we witness the opposite; being a leader is the highest form of servitude. When one becomes a leader (this is obviously only applies to people who are actually good leaders and not lazy ones with an abundance of power and money with no fear of losing it) they are faced with a new world of responsibility so that they can serve those seemingly under them. We may not face the persecution that the early church faced, but when blame or persecution comes it is first to land on the leader. Many a leader has struggled through the pressure placed on them when they pursue God’s vision at the cost of what everybody was content with.  The leader takes on the full responsibility of those under him, in the case of the a pastor he has the responsibility of attending to the congregation given to him by God. He is also accountable to God who has given him his position. A leader’s job does not simply end when he goes home, but he needs to be constantly discerning God’s will and be ready to deal with issues no matter when they happen. A laymen, lets say a retail worker, may have to work overtime once in a while, but once they get home their job can leave their mind because they do not have to worry about working until their next shift. It is fair to say that the higher someone rises, at least the way it should be, the more of a servant they become. When we have an aspiration for leadership we should not look at what we are currently doing as a temporary measure until we can achieve freedom through a higher position, but as a training ground where we can, through God’s grace, grow more and more of a servants heart so that if we are given a position by God we can be ready to give our all willingly.


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