Lording Leaders in Today’s Church?
Lording leaders? I Peter 5:1-3 Lording in the context of the aforementioned scriptures means: to control or subjugate. I’m sure there are no churches in the entire world that have leaders who have abused their power. Perhaps I’m wrong though and there is a church or two out there. So for the sake of my argument let me go ahead and address those couple of churches.For the record, I am a minister and have held several different positions within a church organization. I do understand the need to have leaders performing their God-given callings. I just question how far some ministers go in exercising their authority over other men. It may be ignorance, but I believe some leaders have a skewed view of what the Bible teaches concerning leadership. They really believe God has ordained them to dictate and control their congregations.
Ask Yourself these Questions
- How should the New Testament church be organized?
- Should it pattern the Old Testament priesthood?
- Which ministry, if any, has more authority than the others?
- How exactly were the churches established in the book of Acts?
- Does a church benefit or suffer when they assign ultimate authority to one ministry?
- Should ministers be paid in the New Testament?
- Should all of the tithes and offerings go to one minister only or to all ministers in that church?
- Can we point to any specific verses in the New Testament that clearly give ultimate authority to one man?
Our Church Governance should come from the New Testament
What should we base our church government on? The Bible, right? We must base our beliefs concerning church governance from the Bible. In particular, it should be based on the New Testament. We are not Old Testament saints and therefore do not follow the old covenant structure. The New Testament gives us several titles for leadership, namely; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, and bishops. All of these positions serve one purpose. They should fulfill their calling for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, and to bring the saint to maturity and the capacity to stand on their own two feet. Ephesians 4:11-16
Who is the Greatest Among You
Although Christ does not specifically tell us what kind of title the “greatest” has, he makes it very clear that the “greatest” and “chiefest” should be the servant of all. Mark 10:44-45 Is this the way the current church is set-up? What would happen in our churches if all the ministers were allowed to serve the congregation hand and foot? Could we have a spiritual revival if church leaders humbled themselves and actually shared responsibility? Imagine if they jumped in the ditch alongside the people and worked as they worked? How about they stripped themselves of any special titles or privilege? They enjoyed no special place in the kingdom of God? What if they lived like common men who have been called to lead the church and not control the church!
Christ rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducee’s of his day who were the epitome of usurping authority over men. Matthew 23 What a firm rebuke to all ministers! What a blatant blast to the religiosity of his day that put emphasis on a man’s title instead of his person! The question is begged, “how did we ever to get to a place where the greatest among us are exalted and rule over other men’s conscious?” How did we ever get to a place where there is a great concentration of power vested in one man? F.B. Meyer says it this way, “The true servant of God never exacts these titles as a rightful homage, or as indicating either superiority or special sanctity. We all have one Master and one Father; and, though our talents greatly differ, we stand on an absolute equality so far as saving grace is concerned.” Studylight.org
Christ is the Head of the Church
Christ gathers men unto himself to carry the burden of proclaiming the truth he came to give. He calls men into the ministry to be servants unto the people. We do understand the need for order in the church. I Corinthians 14:40 Titus 1:5 We should not accept any form of governance that does not allow men the freedom to follow Christ by their own conscious. Christ states that the church will be built but does not go into detail as to church structure and governance. Christ is the Head of the Church and nowhere do you find smaller heads running the church! Colossians 1:18 Ephesians 4:15-16 Who instituted where one man exercises ultimate authority over the entire congregation including other ministries? We certainly can’t find that in the New Testament!
The very First Decision made in the Church
The first place we find any semblance to what a New Testament church should look like is in the book of Acts. It starts off in chapter 1 with the group of believers having to decide who would replace Judas the Betrayer. Acts 1:12-26 The Bible says they “all” appointed two men, they then prayed “together” and asked for God’s guidance in the selection process. They gave their lots and accordingly accepted Matthias into the number of the disciples. Nowhere in this scripture do we have any indication that a single man made this choice. No single man usurped authority over any of the others. They did everything together. No lording leaders in the early church! It was a clear indication by the Spirit that all things done in the church should be done so collectively by the ministry.
Was Peter in Charge of the other Disciples?
On the day of Pentecost and immediately after the outpouring of the Holy Ghost Peter preaches his first message. Careful consideration of the verse (Acts2:14) shows us that Peter did not stand alone. In fact, he stood up “with” the eleven and lifted up his voice. Acts chapter 2 God could have introduced the hierarchical governance we see in our churches today but He didn’t. In verse 43 it says that many wonders and signs were done by all the apostles and all that believed were “together” and had all things common. Acts 2:44-45 “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people.” Acts 5:12 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered…” Acts 5:29 Unified they answered the enemy concerning the command of Jesus to preach the gospel. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (“They” meaning all of the ministers) Acts 5:42
Great Leaders Lead and don’t Lord
In summation let me say that it is evident in the New Testament that the church must have leaders. We need men and women who are capable of teaching and directing the church with a vision from God. We simply don’t have any scriptural authority in allowing a single ministry to supersede all others. As ministers, we need to work together to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ! I am not against churches appointing a pastor to oversee the church. I am suggesting it is the responsibility of the pastor to surround himself with other ministers to help guide the church and not feel intimidated by them. There is no place in the New Testament church for lording leaders! I Peter 5:1-3
“No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better.” Jim Yong Kim