Matthew 20:25-28 and Leadership in the Church

But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that those who rule the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around.  But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.  Whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave—  just as the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.

It is amazing that some people forget this truth of the Gospel so easily.  It is true that Churches need some organization, and it is true that someone needs to be able to make decisions for the whole group (either an individual or a group).  But it is equally true that this kind of leadership must be rooted in service.leadership-dictionary1

There are some parts of the Church where those who are in positions of leadership are very large and in charge.  Everything is organized by seniority (pecking order) and those who are higher up in the group are afforded special privileges and expect deference and to be served.  This is quite a contrast to Jesus, the ultimate prototype and example of leadership in the Church.

It is true that Jesus made decisions and commanded the disciples to do or not do certain actions.  Yet it is also true that Jesus gave up all of what he was and had for the sake of love.  The disciples were willing to follow Christ because they knew that Jesus loved them.  He proved this by the way in which he lived with them, traveled with them, and sacrificed for them.

If a “leader” in the Church is not willing to walk with people, work with people, and sacrifice for people, then that person is not a leader.  If the “leader” depends upon his or her position within the Church as the authority for leadership rather than a life of love and service to prove the quality of life and leadership, that person is not a leader.  If the “leader” believes that he or she deserves special treatment because of who they are, that person is not a leader.

True Christian leadership will always be sacrificial in nature, service-focused in orientation, and communal in practice.  Leaders are active in the lives of those they lead so that they know how to serve them in love.  Jesus gave us this example by living with his followers for three years.  Even as God Incarnate, he took the time to walk with the people who followed him and for them to get to know him, his love, and see his service.

This is leadership in the Church.

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