Jesus. Real Life.

Christian leaders: commanding leaders, or persuasive servants?

No time for a full post on how best for all concerned to view leaders in a church, but I will firmly say that this bit of biblical study (make sure you read all the biblical uses towards the end) and this bit speak volumes (that often go unsaid . . . I wonder why?).  Let’s hear what these biblical words are often saying and then listen to Jesus again (and again) and let it all simmer for several hours, maybe even weeks and years.  Then maybe even think about good marriages you know: do husbands (or wives, for that matter) lead by command and exercise authority over their spouses, or by service, by putting the other family members first and by persuasion based on their demonstrated character?  I know, it ain’t rocket science.  I’m glad someone is finally getting the word out that the bible’s own language says the same thing that we all acknowledge in healthy marriages.

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2 responses

  1. John O.

    Also, why would someone have to tell people to obey spiritual leaders unless they had a choice?

    A good example of a commanding leader is a drill sergeant. No one has to tell soldiers to obey their drill sergeant. Can you imagine a soldier writing a letter to a friend: “Hey man, you need to start obeying the sergeant. I mean, he has authority so, you should start listening to him.” It sounds ridiculous! The sergeant practices his authority quite regularly with all of the power that comes with it. If we believe God is taking full advantage of his authority, he doesn’t need someone to improve his efficiency. There’s no need for God’s helpers to panic: “It’s up to me to make these people obey God!”

    I like how NT Wright looks at it. There are plenty of other places in the Bible to look to learn about authority. Let’s not assume we know what authority is and then see how God measures up. Let’s let God (through scripture and however else he likes) tell us what authority is.

    November 3, 2009 at 11:26 am

  2. T Freeman

    Yes. We bring as much or more of the world’s ideas into this issue, I think, than any other. Satan’s driving force was pride; he wanted to rule heaven and earth instead of God. His influence is still obvious in this area, more obvious than Christ’s.

    I just recently came accross those biblical studies that I linked to and I was really surprised, and relieved, frankly. Prior to seeing them, I couldn’t really see how to reconcile the passages that are typically translated as “obey your leaders” with Jesus’ very powerful and unique teaching that leaders wouldn’t be “fathers” but “brothers” and wouldn’t command, but serve. To learn that what we’ve translated as “obey” in those verses is more often used in Greek as “be pursuaded by” or “trust” or similar such things, it seems obvious that those translations are not only more likely in terms of the most common usage, but also more easily (finally!) congruent with Jesus’ own teachings about how folks lead in the church. I’ve had a few sighs of relief and happiness about that! No one ever told me that the same word was used other places so many times in the scripture and more often in a way that would fit with Jesus’ teachings.

    I’m a little aggrivated/disappointed that, for all the “meanings in the Greek” sermons that I’ve heard, the Greek has never come up here, even in the sermons on church leadership. But overall, I’m grateful to have a more complete biblical picture–much better now than never!

    November 3, 2009 at 11:54 am

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