Recently I’ve been pretty interested in what true leadership really looks like. After a few searches on the Internet, I’ve noticed that most articles written have to do with being a successful business leader. While being a successful leader in the “business world” is quite a wonderful thing, some of the qualities listed in those articles I have a hard time agreeing with. So from there I turned to my favorite resource for everything which is commonly referred to as “The Bible.” Jesus, being the Son of God and God himself was the ultimate leader. Using Him as a guide and some other Biblical figures, I started researching what a real leader is.
I believe that as with most things in our lives, we tend to have a somewhat twisted view on truth and reality. Although Jesus was (and is) the Son of God and the promised Messiah, the Pharisees were unable to believe that He was who He said He was. As a self-titled “long time” Christian, I often forget myself that I could easily do the same thing. So I asked myself the question, “If a Christlike leader were standing right beside me, would I recognize him?” The answer I came up with was, “probably not.”
As with all good things that come from God, there is always a counterfeit. Oftentimes, living in the world that we do we are trained to seek after the counterfeit. We use our parents or other figures growing up in our lives as examples for what good qualities in true leadership looks like. That can become pretty dangerous when parents are abusive or even just simply imperfect. We already reviewed in a previous article how this could affect the type of person we seek to marry and how we behave while dating. Although, there are also good things we learn from our parents and I am not saying that looking for good leadership qualities in people who really possess them is a bad thing.
Now, there exist a ton of counterfeit leadership qualities. Arrogance, which is fake confidence, is very attractive to people. Charisma, which is fake genuineness, is a compelling trait to be around. Power is intoxicating. Strength, the false kind AKA “in flesh,” is reassuring. Confinement, which often appears as legalism or imposing limitations, can make us feel safe and secure.
Leaders that subscribe to the rest of the world’s leadership theories, or “Worldly Leaders,” have qualities that come from and are made to uphold their own pride and protect their insecurities. However, people find these qualities somehow attractive and appealing. Worldly Leaders are more concerned with being in the limelight. They would rather be leaders in the view of people and only exist as the face of leadership. However, they do not possess any of the real leadership qualities that Jesus possessed.
I believe that all Christians are called to be leaders. The most simple example being when we become parents. We will have to lead and direct our kids. Also, we are leaders in our own social circles, with our friends, our jobs, and any other place where we are being called to shine light. However, the leadership that we are called to does not have the same flair as the rest of the world’s. So let’s review the less attractive traits of leadership.
Leaders recognize that leadership is not about them.
John (the Baptist) recognized that Jesus was the one that he was preparing the way for. John had disciples himself, and a following, but he still deferred to Jesus.
John says himself, I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11). John wasn’t concerned about his ministry, or people leaving his church to go follow Jesus. He wasn’t concerned about his position as a leader, and he wasn’t threatened. He understood his own calling and gifts and was secure in that. Leaders are not concerned with losing their status because they have a security in who they are and where they are appointed.
Jesus sent out His disciples to do His work. He wanted to train them, teach them, and give them confidence and wasn’t worried about losing face. He wasn’t worried about letting go control of them.
We see in Matthew 10:5-6 that Jesus sends out His disciples and giving them a command before they go. Also, even in the story of the loaves and the fish in Matthew 14, we notice that after Jesus blesses the food, He gives the baskets to his disciples to hand out. Leaders are not concerned with controlling every aspect of people or even people gaining glory over them.
Jesus could have done everything Himself instead of sending His disciples out and He could have even done it all better, but instead He chose to send His disciples out. However, leaders want to disciple, encourage, and train their people. They do not want to confine, they want to give freedom and build confidence in their people.
Leaders understand authority and that they are not the ultimate be-all-end-all. Leaders cannot be leaders if they cannot be submitted to authority and take correction. Leaders cannot themselves be rebellious.
In the Kingdom of Heaven, there is an authority structure. Jesus said “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.” (Matthew 10:24-25). We are all under some type of authority, even in God’s kingdom. We are called to be submitted to our pastors (and other spiritual authorities), parents, our government (most of the time), etc. God has set up a definite authority structure in His kingdom and when we are in line with that, we position ourselves to be blessed.
Jesus also commends the centurion when he comes to Jesus to ask for healing for his paralyzed servant. Jesus offers to personally to go and heal the servant and in return the centurion refuses. He says, For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Matthew 8:9). When Jesus heard this he was amazed by His faith and understanding of authority. When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Matthew 8:10). The centurion understood this authority, and because of this Jesus healed the servant without going to visit him.
Leaders understand that there are people more capable than they are and have talents and gifts that they do not. They know when to step out of the way. They do not try to do everything themselves or take all of the glory for themselves.
Take the story of Jonathan and David. Jonathan, being Saul’s son, was rightfully in line for the kingdom. However, Jonathan understood that David was anointed by God to be the king of Israel. He was not threatened, but instead says to David, “You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” (1 Samuel 23:17).
Instead, leaders know how to surround themselves with talented people and embrace that they cannot possible be good at everything. They are masters at encouraging in truth and bringing out gifts in others. They recognize that this is mutually beneficially.
Leaders are not concerned with being the star of the show.
They understand that it is the Kingdom of God and not their own kingdom. They are not concerned with how big or small their role appears to be, but they recognize that their role is of infinite importance. Whether they are actually to become the face of leadership where people can see, or only operating behind the scenes refreshing and encouraging, they are still leaders.
Leaders will be spoken ill of and gossiped about.
Leaders will take the blame for things that aren’t even theirs to be blamed for. They will be made scapegoats and receive persecution. The Bible promises this.
And we all thought that because we became Christians life would magically become easy. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth. Jesus offers up this little tidbit about the matter, “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.” (Matthew 10:21-22). In other words, there will be some really awful stuff happening when you go and preach My words, and you will be blamed for all of it. That is some pretty heavy stuff.
Furthermore, Jesus speaks about what the criteria where we will be spoken ill of. “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matthew 11:18-19). So, pretty much no matter what we do we will be spoken ill of. Leaders understand that it is far better to be themselves and be truthful with all men than to please people, as they understand that people-pleasing only benefits for but a season, and fades quickly.
The Pharisees blasphemed against the Holy Spirit. They spoke terribly ill of Jesus. The Bible promises the same for any Christian. However, in the defense of the Pharisees, and just to be honest about my own heart, would I recognize the Jesus that eats with sinners and drinks wine? Or would I as well be judgmental and exclude Him from my list of leaders?
Leaders bring to this world a great light. Light shines in the darkness and causes people to be uncomfortable and angry. Light will tear darkness apart..
People trapped in “darkness” will not like it when light is shined into those places. Those places remain in the darkness for a reason. Jesus promises, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (Matthew 10:40). The inverse is also true that he who does not receive Jesus also will not receive us. We will all be gossiped about and our names slandered.
However, leaders still love those who gossip about them.
They may hate gossip, as clearly God does as well, but they adhere to the characteristics of love. Love thinks no evil and believes all things. One who leads in love will do the same.
Leaders are held to a higher standard.
Leaders are in a position of being looked up to. The world watches to see what they will do and how they will act in the toughest of situations. It may not seem like the case, but they carry a great influence with them and in the most unexpected of places. They are held to such a standard.
Jesus tells us very clearly, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19). Teaching is a hard thing to do. I hear it said in Japanese, 教えるには、3倍理解しないといけない. Or “in order to teach, you have to understand (the matter) three times over.” Leaders are teachers. They are held to the same standard.
To make matters worse, Jesus says again “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6). Leaders have the ability to lead people. They have the ability to lead people also into a trap. They will be held accountable for that.
Leaders need to be right even in their hearts. They cannot be double minded or double tongued. They have to watch what they do in secret. They must be found blameless.
To quote the apostle Paul, “Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless.” (1 Timothy 3:8-10). Leaders are under some pretty rough scrutiny. If they do not walk blameless lives themselves, they can easily train others to do the same.
Whether or not we wish to believe it ourselves, we are also being watched by others. How we respond to situations affects the lives of others as well. Our decisions to get involved with foul language or even to be given to too much drinking has an impact on people. I remember when I was going through a rough patch in my life and I told somebody slightly offhandedly that I didn’t know why I was alive. The person looked at me with scared eyes and said with desperation, “if you committed suicide I would question my faith.” I knew then that my actions and even feelings have influence on others.
Leaders are also acquainted with this truth, Whoever walks blamelessly will be saved, But he who is perverse in his ways will suddenly fall. (Proverbs 28:18). The Bible has it written over and over that God avenges His people. We need only to walk blamelessly and rely on Him.
People want to bring down leaders to their level, but they have to remain unchanged.
Standing on the “moral high-ground” causes others to become uncomfortable, and sometimes can even offend. For example, choosing not to have a drink at an occasion may cause another to say “Oh so you’re one of those?” Leaders understand that even under peer pressure or other sorts of pressures that they must remain in their integrity. If they give in to the demands of others they are no longer teaching, but enabling bad behavior. Leaders must make themselves exempt from even things like participating in gossip.
The Pharisees even egged Jesus on, Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” (Matthew 12:38). Jesus denies them and does not perform a sign. The Pharisees did not really want to see a sign in order to believe in Him, and Jesus knew their hearts.
Leaders are faithful even when nobody is watching (in the secret place).
Jesus tells us that even our charitable deeds cannot bring us fame.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1). This is just an overall command. Along with this He attaches a promise, “…your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:4) So the promise is that our acts in secret will have rewards in the open.
The hardest battles for a leader will be in secret, in the prayer closet, and in the heart. Nobody will see these accomplishments.
A classic example of this is found in the story of David and Goliath. Before David received permission to face off against Goliath, he tries to convince Saul to let him fight. But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:34-36).
Unbeknown to the world, David had already been fighting battles. He fought against both a lion and a bear. He may not have been well known for it, but in those moments he was still being prepared to be a leader. As a result of those accomplishments in secret, he was now ready to conquer Goliaths. Leaders have battles in secret that have direct effects on things that will happen in public. Most of these battles will take place in prayer.
Leaders will be asked to lay down their lives even where nobody will see and there will not be any reward in sight. Their decisions in secret will affect the lives of many.
When there was a plot by Haman to destroy all of the Jews during the reign of the king Ahasuerus, Esther sought to gain the favor of the king to reverse the plot by Haman. However, she was not called by the king so in her doing so she would put herself in danger. She explains her dilemma to Mordecai, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.” (Esther 4:11).
Regardless, Esther appears in the inner court to seek the king. She knew that if she was put to death she would die a silent death and nobody would know of her brave action. The king did hold out his golden scepter and Esther did live. As a result of this, later on at a banquet she pleaded with the king, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king’s loss.” (Esther 7:3-4). Those words won her the favor of the king and saved the Jews from being killed.
Again referring back to David and the time when he was running from king Saul who sought after his life, he found himself with the opportunity to take the life of the man who was seeking his life. David was a man who understood God’s timing and laws, and says to his men who urged him to take Saul’s life, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 24:6). This decision in secret affected the outcome of things for generations to come.
Leaders build communities, relationships, strengthen friends, and do all of these things behind the scenes.
Building a community is a difficult task. Even keeping relationships can sometimes be onerous and difficult. Most of the work is done in secret and little by little, piece by piece. However, leaders understand the importance of this.
Leaders are humble (secure in themselves and in love).
Leaders are not afraid to be walked on, and to the rest of the world it may not seem manly or leader-like. It may just seem like they are being taken advantage of and that they are weak.
Jesus turned the world upside-down with the command, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 4:48).
Leaders are secure in themselves in all things. Being secure in themselves they are also humble, and more readily understand the hurt in others. They understand that hurt people hurt, and their goal is to restore and help people. That they have the power to do that in love, and they stand firm in that truth.
Alternatively, it is a good point to say that leaders also need healthy boundaries. I do believe that even Jesus walked the earth with healthy boundaries. However, I believe that He harped more on the side of being more giving than having boundaries because we humans are quick to go only in one direction. We are quick to put up walls because of fear or other such things. Jesus sought to bring those walls down so that we could see and love people for who they really are.
Proper boundaries are only effective when they are beneficial to the other person. They are oftentimes misused, but when in place for the right reasons we cease to enable people in their bad habits and bring them to a more Christlike place. Showing the mercy and love of Christ includes having boundaries that are healthy for the other person.
Interestingly enough, also, Jesus says later on Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). Apparently loving your enemies and doing good to hose who hate you helps us to be perfect. I wonder how that works.
Leaders are the least. They have a secure knowledge of themselves being rooted in God, which to the rest of the world may appear as a weakness.
Jesus says it Himself, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Matthew 11:11. Leaders who push their people forward will naturally find themselves being more in the background. After all, leaders are not called to be great but to make other people great. In doing so they will have to become the least. It’s only natural.
Leaders are gentle and lowly in heart. They have no need to overpower or take by force. They know that compassion is their greatest weapon, and they bear the fruit of gentleness.
Jesus, the ultimate leader, reminds us of a very important part of His character, “…for I am gentle and lowly in heart…” (Matthew 11:29). It’s interesting to see that all of the power that Jesus possessed through the Father. He says Himself that if He had wanted He could call upon the Father and have over twelve legions of angels at His disposal (Matthew 26:53). However, He chooses to be gentle. He chooses to come in meekness. He chooses to come in love and compassion. That is the true power of a leader.
Also, we can take a look at how the Holy Spirit leads us in our hearts. The Holy Spirit never tries to drive or force us to do anything. He merely leads gently and impresses upon our hearts in love. The gentle and lowly character of God is very beautiful and amazing. It is something to aspire to for all leaders.
Leaders don’t need to answer for themselves in the sight of men. They are not afraid to risk being made to look bad.
Leaders know when it is appropriate to stand up to adversity and when to be quiet. They understand that defending themselves may not be beneficial, and they know how to pick their battles. They do not let their insecurities work in them behind the scenes to drive them to be on the same level as those who would oppose.
Jesus demonstrates this when He was questioned about His authority. Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (Matthew 21:23-25).
However, they did not answer Him because of their own fears. Nor did He answer their original question. Jesus did not need to please all people and answer to all men.
Leaders are meek. Meekness is quiet and docile. It does not become provoked and is submissive and compliant. They can be easily unnoticed by the world.
For it is written, “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5). It doesn’t seem very clear what that means in full, however I could imagine that inheriting the earth is a big responsibility. God would have to entrust that to some pretty good leaders. If meekness is the criterion for it, then it seems that it must somehow be connected.
Leaders are to be lowly and gentle, for with these weapons they are able to be peacemakers and bring unity. Leaders bring unity.
As Paul so nicely put it, I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3).
There is much to be said of lowliness and gentleness. Acting in such ways will definitely require a longsuffering in love. However, in keeping peace and unity there is no other way. Leading in fear will not suffice. Making people follow out of compulsion will fail yet still. Peacemaking and unity is about leading in love. That is the glue that holds it all together.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9). A wonderful thing indeed to be called sons of God.
Leaders have a broken and contrite heart.
Broken and repentant hearts are unassuming and easily teachable. They are easy to be around and can understand their own faults as well as grow quickly in humility. Leaders have a depth and deepness within themselves stemming from such a heart. Those who are like-hearted are also attracted to leaders like this.
Again to quote Jesus in His famous beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). As though being poor in spirit, or broken and humble, has a direct relation to inheriting the kingdom of heaven. That’s a big responsibility, and an exciting prospect.
God gives us more of His promises about how He feels about the humble of heart in the Psalms, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17) And also in, The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18).
Maybe it’s hard to see why God values the brokenhearted so much. It’s easier to look at what the opposite looks like. Imagine trying to talk sense into somebody who is thickheaded, rebellious, and unyielding in their attitude. They are much harder to teach and probably won’t learn anything. They even become harder to deal with as people and tend to change less over the years, if at all.
On the opposite end, somebody with a repentant heart who is willing to listen, look at themselves, and leave room for change will grow much faster. Better is a leader who adapts and grows than a stubborn tyrant who is very one-sided. Which would be more preferable?
As a side note, this does not mean that leaders walk around brokenhearted and downcast. This merely expresses a state of mind of humility. Humility is not self-deprecation but a healthy view of oneself based in truth. Actual humility comes with the security of one’s own self worth. It is a good place to be.
Leaders are not afraid to be unpopular.
Leaders will be tempted with false power, but the power is false. The true power we have inherited from God, and it is the love that we have.
The best example of being tempted with false power we find when The Devil tempts Jesus in the wilderness, Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9).
Notice that Jesus, being the son of God, already inherits the heaven and the earth. All that the Father has is already His. However, The Devil tries to tempt Him with power that is false.
Leaders will experience the same. Having followers, or people under them, leaders will be tempted to use that to feed a sense of power. However, that power is actually false. There is never any power in the number of people that a leader leads, but merely the kingdom that they already inherit. Leaders, as well as all of us, already possess the kingdom being joint heirs (Romans 8:17). Therein the true power lies.
Leaders speak truth.
In society, people tend to mistake gifts and talents in others for good character. Good looks and charm can be deceiving, but somehow leadership becomes a popularity contest. People become more focused on the gifts rather than the character of the person who has the gifts.
And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:2). We see that Saul was handsome and tall. It would make sense that he should lead because he looked like he could. However, as we see the story progress, he turns out to be a little bit crazy and the kingdom was promised to a scrawny boy named David who just happens to have killed a giant.
On the contrary, Paul was not as eloquent a speaker as some who would preach a different doctrine in his time period. In his letters he writes, For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. (2 Corinthians 11:5-6). Paul may not have been able to compare to the sophistication of those who taught otherwise, but he spoke the truth. God deemed that more important, and chose to stand behind Paul’s ministry.
Also along with false leadership gifts, we have charm. Charm seems to have quite an effect on people. However, to quote proverbs, Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing… (Proverbs 31:30).
It is far easier to be charming than it is to be truthful. It is much easier to have people like us than it is to speak words that could possibly cause the opposite. Leaders are respectable, and value truth over being liked. Their true charm is in their genuineness, which they are not afraid to express.
Leaders hang around with people who will not necessarily help their “career.” They are not afraid to hang out with “losers” nor how they will look hanging out with them. They are more concerned about loving people than their own status.
Leaders are established by God (Romans 13:1), and their connections are given by God. They do not need to step on people of lesser social status or with seemingly no value in order to attain to what they need. They just need to follow the example of Jesus and who He hung around with.
Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:10,11).
As far as business goes, I’d say Jesus was even smarter than those who may seek to further their careers. Even the “losers” of society possess beautiful and amazing gifts that are just waiting to be groomed and brought out. How much more is the loyalty of somebody who has been loved even when they felt unlovable and seen for who they are?
Leaders do not need to perform in front of the sight of men. They don’t need to people-please.
Leaders recognize that pleasing people or even showing off isn’t meant to bring them glory or recognition. It is only for the benefit of others that they would ever consider doing these things. Again, Jesus shows us this in His example of when the Pharisees demanded a sign from Him (Matthew 12:38). However, Jesus knew their hearts. He knew a sign would benefit them none, so the son of God who could clearly do miracles, chose to abstain for the benefit of others. He was unconcerned about how He looked by saying “no.”
Leaders offend people. Leaders bring with them the convicting light of Christ, which is foolishness to the world. They turn the world upside-down with the truth. That truth will offend this evil world. Leaders care more about bringing truth and changing hearts than about popularity and self gain.
Offense is sort of an interesting topic. It is something that we can spend a lot of time talking about, and there are plenty of people speaking about it. It is clear to me, though, that the Bible teaches that offenses are not a bad thing if done correctly.
When Jesus was doing miracles in His hometown, the people were saying about Him “is this not the carpenter’s son?” And finally it says “so they were offended at Him.” (Matthew 13:53-57). Also, in another situation when He had said one of His many rebuking things to the Pharisees, His disciples came to Him and said, “do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” Jesus, of course, knew this.
Offenses can be good things. If leaders, and all Christians, bring to the dark world a light that will shine into that darkness, the darkness will naturally become afraid of it. Practically, people do not like their dirty laundry being aired out or things that they are trying to hide, consciously or subconsciously, being exposed. That sort of thing will bring offenses. Leaders will naturally bring offenses.
Jesus promises two things about offenses, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:7). The first thing He promises is that offenses must come. They will come. If not through you or I, through somebody else. The second thing that He promises is that the person doing the offending, will have it pretty rough.
Conversely, not all offenses are good and beneficial. The Bible tells us to do all things in love. Paul’s famous epistle on love (1 Corinthians 13) reminds us that if we do things without love it has no eternal value and profits us nothing. So if we are to offend, we should be offending in love. It might sound like a paradox, but that was part of Jesus’ ministry!
Although, even Jesus, when His disciple Peter inquired of Him about paying the temple tax, agreed that He should pay it. The reason He gives for paying it is “lest we offend them” (Matthew 17:26-27). So, as we clearly see even in our own lives, there is such a thing as negative offenses.
Leaders are servants.
Perhaps the most clear point in the Bible (or at least in the New Testament) is that Jesus was (and is) a servant to all. He set the example for leaders to come after Him. There are many scripture verses to back up this statement, but one stands out in particular.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28).
This is the sort of thing that turns our regular view of things upside-down. Leaders will have authority. Leaders will naturally have power. But even still, they will be but mere servants. That is what makes them real leaders.
One of my favorite stories about servant-hood, comes from Perry Stone. Perry was asked how it is that he became to have a big enough ministry that he was on TV. Perry then gave the person his secret. He said that he started out by scrubbing toilets, and to be big in ministry, you have to scrub toilets.
I wanted to test out this theory, and finally I had a chance. One day a friend of mine had invited me to her church, and on this particular day she had toilet cleaning duty. Naturally, I jumped in and volunteered to help. As I was doing so, I was met with so much appreciation by people in the church. People came up to me and introduced themselves, thanking me for cleaning their toilets. Some even gave me their business cards and offered me free services from their trade. I was amazed that the power of cleaning toilets really had.
If it were that God’s Word was not true, and that all of humanity was on its own, then none of these things would ever work. What makes a true leader a leader is that the God of the Universe is behind him. There is a Supernatural Element that backs him up. It is good to remember that all of these qualities are useless and have no power in themselves, but in Christ, they are infinitely powerful.