Examples of Spiritual Christian Leadership – part 21

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.

(NIV, John 13:35)

Things are not ideal even within the circle. The circle is perfect, we are not.

Figure 2. Spiritual Leadership Model
Figure 1. Spiritual Leadership Diagram

We live in a fallen world and people are imperfect. But we cannot allow the existence of imperfection to give us the excuse to disobey Christ’s teaching. The commands are set by Christ and we must obey them. They will allow us to function within the circle even in this fallen, imperfect world: Love one another, serve one another, forgive one another, submit to one another, agree with one another, and bear with one another (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 3:13). Within the circle, the real number one leader here is Christ and no one else. It is obvious that we are all to follow his leadership (John 12:26). We are his body. He is the large circle in the diagram, while we are the smaller circles. We are the body and all members play an equally important role. The parts of the body that could be seen as more important are given less honor and the parts that would be considered insignificant are given more honor. This is done purposefully in order to set everyone on the same level (1 Corinthians 12:22-25). Therefore, it is important to see that all circles within Christ are the same size and thickness. They are all equal and come under the same authority within Christ Jesus. We are all accountable to one another, and we all must submit to one another while we are in him.

Verse twenty-five of 1 Corinthians chapter twelve tells us that we are set on the same level under one head, so that there is no division and that we have equal concern for one another. There are some very important observations to be made here. First of all, we are all made equal purposefully so that we are not divided. And, because we are on the same level, we are to be equally concerned for each other. If I am more concerned for one small circle more than another small circle, that first small circle is more important thus deserving of more concern. “Equally concerned” are the keywords here. We will have problems when we have more concern for one member over the other. And we will have problems when we have more concern for ourselves than we do the other members of the body. We should have equal concern for everyone inside the circle. This is Christ’s way. You are allowed to have less concern for yourselves than you do others (Philippians 2:3, 4). He has set the body up in this way. The body is set in place in this fashion and there is a reason for it. So here is a principle of leadership: We are all on the same level, under one leader, and have equal importance and equal concern for each other. Here is another principle of leadership: You can actually be great within the circle but the only way to achieve greatness is the exact opposite of how you would achieve it in the world. Your circle will diminish. You must be as a child, you must be last, and you must be the servant of all (Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37pp –; Luke 9:46-48; 18:15-17). You must consider yourself an unworthy servant (Matthew 20:27; Mark 10:44; Luke 17:10). There are two concepts that go together: That we are all to have equal concern for each other, and that we are all on the same level of importance (slaves having the same value). We all serve Christ and we all serve each other. We are all equally the unworthy slaves of Christ and we are all equally the unworthy slaves of each other. The two concepts complement each other.

Here is another principle of leadership: If someone in the circle offends or sins anyone else in the circle, he or she must be confronted. If you are all equal and have equal concern for one another, you will not want one person to be among all the others offending and sinning. You will have to do something about it. The person who sins and offends does not have equal concern for others and must be confronted about this. It would not be healthy to allow one person to be proud, boastful, arrogant, overbearing, and rude to the others around him. Those actions show that he thinks he is superior to the others and not their equal. So rebuke him. If he doesn’t listen take another person and confront him again. And if he still doesn’t repent, expel him from the circle (Matthew 18:15-17; Luke 17:3-5 1 Timothy 5:20). If you are to remain in the circle where Christ is the leader, you too must repent if someone rebukes you. If you don’t, you are disqualified from being a viable part of the body that is extending his kingdom. Uncorrected sin is what will make us ineffective to be part of the body. Sin is proud, selfish, self-seeking, ambitious, lustful, and stubborn. If you are full of these things, you might appear to be in the circle but you are not. You might fool other people by acting like you are in the circle but you cannot fool God. Your leader is not Christ and your spiritual impact is powerless because you are not truly part of the body (2 Corinthians 11:12, 13). You don’t extend the kingdom because you are not part of the body. You also need to know that if you are sexually immoral, an idolater, an adulterer, a male prostitute or homosexual offender, a thief, greedy, a drunkard, a slanderer, or a swindler, you will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:8-10). It is extremely important that we all are actively involved in correcting sin and keeping each other in line. Today’s circle is diseased, weak, and is not doing a good job in the world because it is full of sin. Those that are advancing his kingdom, those who are truly in the circle, are doing their part in the advancement of the kingdom of God but are suffering because of all the sin and contamination inside.

The diagram of the circle in figure 2 is the true representation of Christ’s body. This is the way God sees it. Either we are truly part of it, or we are not. All other human leadership has less impact. When an entity (the box) has large numbers of members, flashy worship bands, big-name marketing, large church structures, eloquent words, and superior wisdom, they actually are doing harm. Low key humble servants using no structures and having attitudes of slaves have a much greater spiritual impact and walk in the power of God. Walking in the power of God allows the body of Christ to extend into the darkest parts of the world. If you want to have a greater spiritual impact, you need to get low and become invisible, and have equal concern for the others inside the circle. If you want the ministry to have a greater impact it has to become low visibility and structureless under one leader who is the person of Jesus Christ. I will go into detail about how to do this in the last chapter.

Practical example of leadership within the circle

Below is a practical example that can be applied to almost every leadership situation in life. In this example, there are only two smaller circles within the larger circle. So simply add more people (more small circles) for more complicated examples. The situations you will encounter in the real world will have a different amount of people. Their styles and methods will also be different, but the basic concept you find below will always be the same. No matter how strong your leaders are, no matter how much they know, no matter how many people are involved, you will still have to love, submit, serve, forgive humble, agree, and confront. The situations you encounter will not be perfect but if you will always be the first to humble yourself and submit, you will see change.

Practical example: Two very capable men decided to rake the leaves in a large yard. The first man arrives early and rakes the leaves into a pile, then gets down on his hands and knees pushing them into a plastic bag. He has three bags filled when the second man arrives a few minutes later. The second man tells the first man that he has a better idea and takes charge and changes the way the leaves are being bagged. He brings out a lawnmower to gather the leaves. The first man submits to the second man’s idea, obeying without question and with a smile. He humbles himself even though he thinks his way of doing it was better. After about ten minutes, it is obvious that mowing the leaves takes much longer. The man mowing decides to try the first man’s idea of bagging the leaves by hand. It is physically much harder work, but it will get the job done quickly. The first man surrendered to the other man’s way of doing things and was lowered on the authority structure scale (below zero) in the spiritual kingdom for his attitude of submission and humility. He made the decision to agree with the second man. The first man’s submissive attitude gave him the revelation on how to do the job better, to begin with. Submission connects you more directly to Christ. Humility gets you closer to God. Because the first man got low, it has increased the second man’s view of him. The one who wants to take charge and make decisions raises himself in the beginning and is lowered by God in the end. The proud will exalt themselves and later are humbled. But, in the end, he too had the humility to relinquish the way of doing things to the others. He too submits to the idea of the other and they get the job done in half the time. Had the second man not humbled himself, the first man would still have been given a greater impact in God’s kingdom. The next time they work together on a different job, the first man is asked to initiate the decision on how to get it done. Even if they decide differently, they both are willing to submit. Even if they take longer to do the job, the important thing is that they humbly agree with each other. There is nothing wrong with one person making decisions, as long as all parties are willing to get along regardless of what works more efficiently. God exalts all acts of humility and gives insight and wisdom to the submissive.

Submission and humility directly connects you to Christ who gives you greater insight and wisdom

The example given above fits all situations. You can add more people, and add a different task or stronger personalities that want to take charge and control. The dynamics remain the same. If the first man humbles himself and the other man does not, the first man goes lower on the authority structure scale and the second man goes higher. The second man exalts himself. Eventually, God will humble the exalted and exalt the humble. It is his way and he is just to do what he must as God. This way is contrary to the world’s way of gaining leadership. In the kingdom of heaven, a man is lowered out of God’s way. In the world, a man is raised higher in the eyes of men. And God will allow no man to exalt himself. Whether you cut grass, build a church, or pretend to pastor thousands, God must be exalted and you are must be humbled.

“Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to”.

(NIV, Matthew 23:10-13)

The teachers of the law and Pharisees hid the prophecies found in scripture about the messiah from the people by their doctrines and arrogant lifestyles. When the Messiah finally came he was not what they expected. He tore down their worldly human authority structure that gave them power and prominence. They had elevated themselves and Christ tore them down disqualifying them from being inside the circle of his leadership. They were too deep-rooted in their worldly ways and we’re not going to change. They loved their superiority and self-importance. They knew that in their authority structure they were above all others. In their narcissism, they completely rejected his leadership. They would never understand that those inside Christ’s circle are all servants and the lowest are slaves and the first following their one true leader. Their submission to him and to one another is their act of obedience. The commands of Christ are not complicated, so we must reduce and remove altogether the complication of our man-made systems in order to wholly obey them. The leadership issue is not complicated, Christ is our leader. If we love one another deeply from the heart and make disciples of Christ who can then make other disciples, we will be accomplishing what God desires. Our worship and adoration of God will come through our obedience to Christ’s simple commands. We won’t need mass meeting halls and charismatic figureheads pretending to lead us if we are loving one another, serving, and making disciples of all nations. The church will grow naturally and extend outwardly if we explicitly follow Christ’s teaching. Submitting to his teaching is submitting to him. He is the word of life. There are times when he will directly guide us, but the majority of his will has been written down for us and given to us in our New Testament. Jesus Christ is the Messiah and he knows what he is doing. All we have to do is stay inside the circle (John 15:1-17).