At Work

Is Your Interest in Leadership Anti-Gospel?

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“Obsession with leadership is anti-gospel. ‘The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ Unless ‘leadership’ means washing feet and dying for our followers, it’s just the language of the kingdoms of the world.”

I saw this comment online recently in response to a Christian blogger. The argument seems to come from the Gospel of Mark.

Jesus called [the disciples] together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:42-45, NIV).

I get it. Too often Christian leaders are motivated by the spotlight that comes with leadership. The popularity, opportunity, and lifestyle it affords are attractive. There are many “Christian” leaders who pervert the gospel to amass personal wealth and power.

But I don’t believe leadership itself is anti-gospel. There are literally hundreds of examples of leaders in the Bible. Some are terrible warlords. Some are only concerned about gaining and keeping power for themselves. Yet many are honorable men who inspired the people around them to follow God.

Being a leader in this world either organizationally or socially doesn’t set you against Jesus’s teachings. Leadership is not good or bad. It’s just influence, power.

How you use that power determines whether or not it is anti-gospel.

For whom is your leadership?

If your leadership is all about your benefit, your advancement, your joy, if, at the end of the day, your leadership starts and ends with you, it probably doesn’t look much like the leadership modeled by Jesus of Nazareth.

But, if the point of your leadership is to reweave shalom in your company or community, that is exactly what Jesus came here to do.

If God has given you influence or authority in this world, congratulations! You are a leader. But be careful. You are held to a very high standard. A standard that Jesus himself modeled for us in his time on earth. Use this temporary opportunity to be selfless, caring, patient, and kind. Exemplify the Fruit of the Spirit in your leadership and refute the notion that leadership is anti-gospel.

As Andy Stanley once said on the “Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast,” “Leadership is a stewardship, it’s temporary, and you’re accountable.”

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  • Great article! I’m a firm believer in leadership, I’m a firm believer in the male having a God given leadership role which we’ve fallen away from as well. That’s not to say women can’t be leaders, as you said, there are many leaders throughout the Bible and some of them are women.
    I think the comment you saw was someone who had been abused by a bad leader.
    Christ was the ultimate leader and he led by serving. I can’t think of any other effective way to lead that keeps followers with you.

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