Recently I was introduced (by a follower of this blog) to a list of Scriptures that does a wonderful job of displaying what Jesus’ disciples were meant to look like, how they were to behave and how they modeled Christianity to the flock – the saints of Christ.
It is no surprise that leadership is often perverted, in all areas of life, secular or spiritual, even by those with the best intentions. Leaders are comprised of humans, and we know power corrupts humans, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yet, the Scripture, if we would but study to show ourselves approved unto God, and follow it, rightly dividing it, we would be able to keep ourselves from those traps.
“Do not let yourselves be called leaders or teachers; for One is your Leader (Teacher), the Christ.” – Matthew 23:10, AMP
The entire chapter (Matthew 23) is a what not to do lesson for Spiritual leaders, disciples, pastors, etc. This minor list is just the tip of the iceberg;
- Sit in the seat of Moses (v2)
- Burden Others to work for Them (v3-4)
- Put on a Show to be exalted (v5)
- Always at the Seat of Honor at the meals, services (v6)
- Adore Public Attention (v7)
- Demand to be called by Title, position of Authority, demand respect (v8-10)
In layman terms, spiritual leaders are not to require exaltation, to set themselves above and apart from the saints, to demand respect and special treatment, to sit in the seat of the Law and Judgement as Moses was asked to. Rather, they are to lead us to Christ, mostly meaning that the point the way to Calvary and then get out of the way. That isn’t to say we don’t need Spiritual Leadership, but the form it takes is ultimately important.
The Word of God says to try the spirits, whether they [leaders] are of God… in I John 4:1. False prophets are in the world and it is up to each New Testament believer to ward against them. Following Matthew 23 should allow us to do just that.
“For those who lead this people are causing them to go astray; And those who are led [astray] by them are swallowed up.” – Isaiah 9:6, AMP
Marks of Good Spiritual Leaders
The Apostle Paul set an example of a true Spiritual Leader, he knew the goal of the Lord’s Gospel was to have people follow Him and His disciples. If people were to follow him, he had a great responsibility to show the right type of leadership.
“For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” – II Thessalonians 3:7-9, KJV
Everything that Paul did was to set an example to the rest of the believers, how we aught to behave ourselves towards God and other man. Most importantly, he preached the message that he was merely pointing people to Christ, not himself. Some examples of his messages are easy to find in Scripture if we look;
“For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” – Romans 8:14, AMP
“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” – Galatians 5:18, KJV
This coincides with the words of the Lord about spiritual guidance:
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:” – John 16:13a, KJV
Jesus said “Follow Me” 34 times between Matthew and John in the King James Bible, never did he say “Follow my pastors”. The importance was laid upon each of us to take up our cross and follow Jesus! Thus, the mark of good spiritual leadership is whether or not they are asking you to follow Christ, or follow them.
Take these examples of the spiritual leaders spawned by Christ;
“Paul, a servant of Jesus the Messiah, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s gospel,” – Romans 1:1, KJV
“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,” – Phillipians 1:1, KJV
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ…” – Colossians 4:12, KJV
“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ…” – Titus 1:1, KJV
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” – James 1:1, KJV
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ” – II Peter 1:1, KJV
Sometimes it is easy to skim read the Word without picking up patterns, but the pattern here is obvious. The true Spiritual Leaders exuded servitude rather than demanding obedience to their own station of authority. In there you’ll not find ‘This is my station, obey me or leave’ type of leaders. Rather, you’ll find men of God doing rather than demanding.
Thus, we must all become servants of Christ, as God commanded us to follow Him, and in so doing, we lead our families, our friends, our coworkers and those in our social circle to Christ, not to a local leader. You will be a leader by following Christ
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16, KJV