Upwardly Mobile Leadership Model in the Church

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To some, being in leadership means being able to enjoy a position of authority over others..
To others, it's mark of status or even a way to avoid accountability.
Some enjoy leadership as a means of enablement to express themselves in a vocational or ministerial sense.
Still others see leadership as a means to help others.
And maybe some see leadership as all of these.
In the corporate sense, being a leader often means having traveled a road of upward mobility that started in humble beginnings.
We all admire the person of humble beginnings who began at the lowest point and worked his way to the top.
Unfortunately, the corporate model of leadership often finds its way into the church in a variety of dimensions.
Certainly the upwardly mobile path from janitor to senior pastor is well known, and well marked with milestones as interim stops of being a youth pastor or associate pastor.
Is there a biblical model of attaining leadership in the church? Certainly, but it doesn't always resemble the upwardly mobile call to which some aspire.
Biblical leaders are often called upon to lead against their own wills.
Moses comes to mind, maybe even Jonah.
Did the disciples that Jesus chose apply for the job? Unlikely.
And was Paul looking for the job of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles? Probably not.
It's hard to imagine that even Timothy was too excited about getting circumcised, leaving home, and travelling with Paul just so he could brag about being in apostolic leadership.
Whatever the path of leadership within the church may take, we can presume from biblical examples that corporate-style leadership is not the correct template to emulate.
God has His own ways of choosing leaders, and many times it does not include a system of 'earning' it.
When we define leadership in the secular sense, which would also include corporate leadership, we see basic hierarchy.
That is, the existence of a chain of command that inherently has people at the top, people at the bottom, and people in between.
Presumably, a hierarchy structure would resemble a pyramid, with the seat of power or authority occupied by the smallest group (or singular person) at the top, and the largest group at the bottom with decreasing authority as we make our way down the pyramid.
Corporate leadership is great...
for corporations and for the military.
But what about the church? Does the Bible provide a template of leadership for those serving in leadership capacities within the Body of Christ? At this point, my desire is to observe what is said about the heart of the leader, not delve into a church polity discussion...
yet.
Paul talks a fair amount about leadership in 1st Timothy.
In fact, he says in 1 Timothy 3 that if "any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do".
That must mean its okay to want to be in leadership.
But what does being a leader in the Body of Christ look like? Is it one of position and power, or entirely something different? In Mark 9:33-34, the disciples are seen suffering through a rather embarrassing moment...
ah, but a teaching moment as well.
Jesus asks them what they were discussing, and nobody wanted to 'fess up' with the fact that they were discussing something really stupid.
Busted! These men who have already seen Jesus walk on the water, people healed, thousands miraculously fed, and Jesus transfigured on the mountain are now arguing amongst themselves who is the greatest.
Perhaps being inspired by the 'greatness' of Jesus and His works, they too want to get in on some of the action.
Never mind that only a short time ago they were basically 'nobodies' with little more to offer than the stench of fish on their clothes.
How is it now they are suddenly being inspired to greatness? Their presumptiveness could rile me, except that I see myself capable of their stupidity.
Like the disciples, haven't I also wanted to be noticed for achievement and for being "great" in some manner? In an honest moment, we might all confess to desiring greatness and being noticed.
What is the essence of such craving but to be perceived more favorably in comparison to others? We would be seen as being just a little better, and standing just a little taller than the rest.
And if it can't be achieved through performance, perhaps it can be achieved by lowering those around us so that we 'appear' just a little better.
But while we define 'greatness' as how others perceive us, Jesus does an end run and explains greatness as not promoting yourself (or lowering others), but of lowering yourself.
And I think we could safely interpret that Jesus wasn't advising the disciples to lower themselves to be noticed by others either.
The disciples wanted to be considered "first"...
a reference to rank.
Do we as leaders have the same desire? Are we pastors or leaders because we desire a higher rank? Is it just too difficult to contemplate not always being in control, or seeing others in a higher place of honor? Such questions beg for honest introspection.
More as I write it.
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