TO LEAD IS TO SERVE THE LED

Sometimes we misinterpret the meaning of leadership from the Christian perspective and we want to model it with what is obtainable in the world. The reason is simple, a lot of Christian leaders are very insecure and scared of losing both people’s trust, loyalty and inputs in their various organisations but when we understand our roles as Christian leaders, we may leave certain fears to God because it is not our job to care about it, and then leadership becomes very simple.

The fight for relevance makes a lot of leaders seek for power that isn’t meant for them, we must understand our limits in the lives of people, we must understand areas where we have a say and where our say doesn’t even matter. This isn’t what I want to dwell on right now but there are few things I want us to learn from Jesus and His leadership style.

While the followers of Jesus usually addressed Him with “Master, Lord, Teacher” and so on, Jesus, in all His glory and magnificence called His followers “Brothers” and didn’t just stop there, He indicated our oneness with Him. Jesus knew who He was, He knew the authority He had but He didn’t personally impose it on them to revere Him, they revered Him out of the wonders of their experiences of Him. He earned it from them. Let us listen to what Jesus had to say:

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so because I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you. Truly, truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Jesus showed us a new model of leadership; it wasn’t obtainable at any time in history except in Jesus. Feet washing at that time were the lowliest thing to do as it was the least of the servants that washes the feet of their Master. One more thing I’d want us to pick out from what Jesus said is that Christian leaders are simply servants and their blessings aren’t from exerting authority over people in a bossy way but in serving others humbly. Unlike human Shepherd who takes care of the sheep so that after they are fat, they become good for food, Christian leaders are rendering service to the flocks, the flocks aren’t being prepared for slaughter, they are only being strengthened to walk in the freedom they have. The blessing of a Christian leader is in knowing this truth and walking in it.

For a Christian leader, there isn’t so much to achieve when leadership is modelled from what is obtainable in the world. For example, world leaders are bossy, they are being served and in some quarters they are being regarded as gods over others! The loyalty some of them enjoy isn’t truly loyalty, they got it by force and in the hearts of their subordinates, there is rebellion waiting to explode. If you have to enforce loyalty on people or you have to talk about it in every meeting, you aren’t earning it, you are using psychological means to get people’s submission forcefully. There is no blessing in that, whatever good that comes out of it is worldly.

We should learn from Christ, He didn’t make Himself more special than anyone else even as He knew who He was. As believers, we are all brothers, we are all equal but we have diverse roles, diverse offices and diverse positions. Our calling doesn’t esteem us above others, it rather gets us more humble and ready to serve the purpose of our calling. Loyalty or respect is the essence of our calling; it is something that builds up as our impact progresses. On the other hand, loyalty is a fruit of love, it is mutual; we don’t make demands for it, it simply builds up. Never a time did we hear Jesus warning the disciples against getting so familiar with Him, never a time did He ask for their respect but He just had it!

Being a leader is a privilege and a responsibility, we weren’t called to control people and the way they choose to live their lives. We aren’t called to detect for people who they should marry, the career path they chose to follow and so on! While we can always make relevant suggestions, there should always be a line that separates us from people’s personal lives. Being a Pastor or Christian leader doesn’t make you “loyal-worthy” while another person becomes undeserving of it because they are followers. Remember, the essence of followership is Christ and not you. Why make it all about yourself?

Loyalty is not something we enforce on people by the reason of our office; it is something we simply influence without even knowing it, we don’t demand it, we influence it. Jesus said in John 10:27

“My sheep hears my voice and follow me”

This is how loyalty and honour are commanded. The voice of Jesus, full of love with an aura of friendliness commands loyalty, not an enforced or imposed loyalty but that which is birthed from personal conviction. We hear His voice and we follow. His voice is very compelling, full of comfort and support; this is why true loyalty results from an outreach of love. I have enjoyed loyalty from people even when I wrong them to some sort; the reason is nothing but love. Jesus is the reason why a Christian leader should be followed.

If you don’t know Jesus, you can’t correctly follow a supposed minister of Jesus; you will probably walk into error. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1

“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”

In other words, Paul was saying, “Learn Christ from me” and if we don’t know when it’s Christ and when it’s a man that we are learning, we may not discern what we are even learning or who we are following. It will be very mischievous to assume that Paul was saying “focus on me while I focus on Christ” that isn’t just going to be cunning but devilish. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith”

I once told people at the meeting saying “know where to follow and where not to follow.” You should know what is meant for you to follow in a man and what isn’t meant for you to follow, there is a place of discernment and you must learn to separate God’s word from Pastor’s words. We were never asked to follow anyone blindly; our focus even as we follow people is Jesus.

So, when people make it all about themselves, place authority on themselves over others, demand unwavering accountability but never give same to those who honour them, then there is a problem and this isn’t so Christ. I don’t even mean that a Pastor, for example, should be accountable to another Pastor or that a Pastor who preaches about honour at all times should be honouring another Pastor. That is far from my point, I am saying that supposed leaders should be accountable to their supposed members or followers; they should honour these members too and hold them in high esteem. Honour shouldn’t just be mutual, it should be equal! Get my point, leaders should show unrelenting honour (not necessarily dependence) on others and by doing this coupled with their labour as leaders, they become worthy of double honour. However, when the Bible talks about “double-honour” in 1 Timothy 5:17, it was talking about the welfare (not necessarily loyalty) of the leaders who put all their effort in ensuring they lead and teach well.

Some time ago, I wrote “honour those who honour you” and I didn’t mean “only those who honour you are deserving of your honour” I rather meant to say “even those who honour you are deserving of your honour”. I think we borrowed so many concepts from what isn’t Christian. Jesus said in Mathew 23:9 “call no-one father” and that may not be to say we shouldn’t acknowledge people’s roles in our lives, I think He was referring to the very issue being addressed here: we shouldn’t promote any leader to the place of Jesus in our lives, a lot of people do this without even knowing.

When someone begins to make a demand on loyalty at all point in time and begin to play psychology on you, it is not Christian, and it is a borrowed concept. If you feel bad about this truth, you have a serious problem in your understanding of Christianity. I have read Jesus over and over again, I have tried seeing where I am not fixing the dots on this honour and loyalty of a thing and it keeps leading me to one thing which is “Servant leadership”.

I want to sound different here right now. Jesus called His Disciples friend and we often say “your Pastor is not your friend…” I may understand that we are trying to solve the problem of familiarity but maybe we aren’t doing it the right way. Jesus never had to warn them about getting too familiar with Him, He had an edge, it was there, and it was clear and visible. He allowed some to get very close to Him to a point one would lie on him and feel so free. Yet, Jesus had an edge! As a leader, your constant improvement is the edge you have and that is what keeps you relevant. Some impacts can never be matched with any level of familiarity.

Pastoring is not a government kind of authority; it takes friendship to truly endear others. Any successes I have recorded in people’s lives were all achieved on the premise of friendship. You don’t continue messing around your followers anyhow and then you say “don’t get so familiar with me. Honour my anointing…” You don’t go-ahead to do things unexpected of you and come out to say “don’t get too familiar with me…” You aren’t dealing with animals! They are humans too who demand accountability.

There should be an edge, you’re a leader, and there should be a clear difference. What makes you a leader is that you are an example to follow and as a Christian leader, you show forth Jesus in clarity. Trust me, when you have an edge over those you are leading, they will never be over-familiar with you. They will always wake up to see another surprising thing about you. No matter how close you are to those you lead, they will always appreciate you as long as you remain relevant.

Jesus ate, walked around and slept with the disciples but they never got over-familiar with Him nor did they undermine Him. Jesus would call them friends or brethren. He said in Mathew 12:50 “those who do my word are my mother and brothers”. Why feel bad when you hear words like “if you’re a leader, you’re meant to serve?”

We must recheck what we refer to as leadership; we must recheck the motive behind our frightful quest for respect. Respect is gained and never enforced. If you have a problem with this presentation, your heart needs a fix. Unless we aren’t dealing with Christianity here, else, leadership is another word for service.

God bless you.