Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Must Decrease - Kingdom Leaders - Oops I Meant Servants

In any kingdom there can only be one king. John the Baptist understood this and that's why he said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

The world's leadership models demand followers. The greater the leader, the greater the number of followers. But the kingdom does not work on this principle. There is but one king.

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Mark 10:42-45

In the kingdom a servant's role is to be there to help, then get out of the way. The human condition being what it is, makes it very easy for people to want a king. Hearing is easier than doing. Listening is easier than teaching. Some prefer to be led, some prefer to lead, and yet as brothers and sisters we each have something to contribute.
1 Corinthians 12.

Even Jesus said that it was better that he leave. "But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."
John 16:7

Why do we need the Holy Spirit if a leader is there to tell us what to do and what to think?

It is subtly seductive to have people following us. Often times, leaders don't even realize that they have been making disciples after themselves. It has been said that the way to tell if someone is a leader is to see if someone is following him.

And yet the best way to measure the true impact of a servant is by how well people do when they are gone.

Paul said this, "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears."
Acts 20:30-31

A simple safeguard from making disciples after oneself is to do what Paul did and not become financially dependent on anyone or any group. A golden cage is still a cage. I know it has become normative for some of God's servants to become dependent on other servants and live on their donations, but that doesn't seem to be a reproducible model that can be applied to everyone.

Paul went on to say to this to the pastors of Ephesus,
"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
Acts 20:32-35

Here's a simple question. Do children spend money on their father or do fathers spend money on their children to bring them to maturity?

I have often heard leaders trying to get people to do more and give more, not realizing that their physical presence might be causing people to do less.

I think that is why the great commission has the word, Go, in it.

When a leader is more quoted than Jesus or when people can talk more about a teacher's teachings than what Jesus said and did, you know they have made followers after themselves.

Paul gave a strong "warning" to the Corinthians about the problem of following someone,
"I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

1 Corinthians 1: 10-17

A few years learning from any servant is more than sufficient. It's not that they won't be in your life, but if they are, it should be as a brother or sister.

Just as there are different roles within any family, the goal is that these roles change and each member rises up to their full potential. So it is in the kingdom. Without doubt, we all start out as babes, but we should all rise up to maturity of being fathers and mothers.

We all can rise up like eagles but we must also help baby eagles leave the nest.

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