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Leadership Through Service

by Bernie Parsons

Leadership Through Service

In the church, we need to rethink our concept of leadership.  The world says that we are to climb the ladder to success, often trampling others on the way up. If we reach the top, we are successful leaders. This is not God’s way.

Luke 22:24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 

25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.  

This is worldly thinking, Gentile thinking, Western philosophy—that a man should rule others, ordering them about--and then expect to be called great, and beneficent. This is not leadership: a commander commands, a leader leads. 

Luke 22: 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.  

27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

 Mark put it this way:

Mark 9: 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.  

35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 

In the kingdom of God, the greatest is not the toughest, the loudest, the harshest, or the most demanding—the greatest is the one who serves the most and the best. To succeed as leaders in the church, we need to work down the ladder to a state of servitude to our brothers and sisters. 

Another thought—I have heard many say that as they climb toward heaven they try to pull someone along with them. Let’s rethink that. What if we get below the person and push them up toward heaven? Then, when we get to the top, we will have pushed someone ahead of us. That would be a great feeling of accomplishment--leadership through meeting the needs of others.  

For example, elders are to serve the flock, by leading them—not Lord over them. 

I Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  

2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  

3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  

4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 

Do you really want people to hold you in high esteem, and look to you for leadership? If you really want to hold sway over others, make yourself indispensable to them. Serve them so well that they feel that they cannot get along without you. Now that’s power! 

Jesus gave the ultimate example of leadership through service. 

John 13: 1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.  

2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;  

3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;  

4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.  

5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.  

6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?  

7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?

13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.

15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

 Jesus washed his disciples’ feet—not as an “act of worship” for the church assembly, but as an act of friendship, humility, and love. It was something that needed to be done. It was a menial job, but someone had to do it. We get a little arrogant sometimes, about what we will not stoop to do. This is the Son of God, Creator of the universe, kneeling at the feet of His followers, washing their dirty, stinky feet. This is the man in whom God placed all power and authority in heaven and earth, before whom all shall kneel. We find Him dressed in a towel, on his knees, scrubbing dirt, grime, and toe-jam off His students’ feet. 

Then He said, “Ye should do as I have done to you” and “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them”.

 It wouldn’t hurt us to wash one another’s feet from time to time. Did not Jesus say, ”Come and follow me”? This is one of the places where He went.

Philippians 2: 1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

 We often speak of fellowship—true fellowship of the Spirit comes when we hold one another in high regard, and wish each other well, and work to see that our brothers and sisters do well. 

2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

 When we all adopt this eagerness to help the other succeed, then we share a like mind, and are of one accord—agreement, conformity, harmony.

 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

 The charge is that we not only look after our own well-being, but that we look after our brothers and sisters as well. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? If we have 40 members in a congregation, and all look after each other, then each of us would be assured that 39 other people are looking after us! Talk about success! 

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

 Christ humbled Himself for us. Can we not humble ourselves for one another? He set the perfect example, and we are to follow. 

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

We have freedom in Christ Jesus, but instead of abusing the freedom, we need to use it to serve one another in love.  Not only can we use this to assist our brothers and sisters in a material way, but also in spiritual growth.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Brothers, when we check on our family in God, perhaps when they miss an assembly, we should not call to reprimand them as I have seen some elders and preachers do. Instead, we should call from a sense of love and concern for their well-being. Instead of tearing them down our efforts should be to help them become stronger in the Lord.

And, brothers and sisters, when we see one of our spiritual family stumble and fall, rather than kicking them while they are down, we should kindly and lovingly put or arms around them and pick them back up. Then we should see if we can help them from falling again.  

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Hebrews 3:12-13 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Romans 15:13-14 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

 Rebuke=sharp criticism.

Reprove=scold or direct, usually in a gentle way.

Exhort=urge strongly, make urgent appeals.

Provoke=evoke, call up or call forth.

Edify=build, establish.

Admonish=indicate duties or obligations, usually in a gentle way.

Comfort=give strength and hope. (Root words: fortify together.)

Support=from root meaning “to carry”.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Jude 1:21-23 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Ephesians 4:2-3 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Forbear=do without.

Longsuffering=long and patient endurance of offense.

Patient=bearing pain or trials calmly and without complaint.

Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Humble: from “humus”, earth, dirt. We must remember our origins.

 Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Job 42:6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are but dust and ashes. Yet God has been mindful of us to elevate us to the status of His children, if we are followers of Jesus, His Son. Have you put on this new man? Have you been conformed to the image of God? If not, we ask you to do so tonight. Let God put His great treasure in you, let His glorious light shine in your heart.

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