There is a huge deception in the church today on the subject of leadership. The concepts of “lead”, “leader” and “leadership” as defined by our culture and as we know them in our society are not remotely found in the Bible regarding men controlling the church of Jesus Christ. While control-based leadership may be acceptable for a private business or corporation, it has no place in the churches of Jesus Christ or in government. Before proceeding let me briefly recap some things that I have pointed out before: The Bible teaches servanthood and servant “watchmanship”, not authoritarianism or controlling leadership in the church. How do we know this? Here again is the concise Scripture summary that I have offered in some of my other articles:
- All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matt 28:18).
- Jesus alone is the Head of the church (John 5:26-27, Eph 1:22-23, Col 1:18).
- God does not permit Christians to have controlling authority over other Christians in the church (see Matt 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45, Luke 22:24-27, 1Pet 5:3, Matt 23:8-12, etc.).
- We do not have multiple special high priests over us. There is only One High Priest, Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 3:1, 4:14).
- We have One Master Christ and we are all brothers (see Matt 23: 8-12). You cannot obey two masters; you will love the one and hate the other (Matt 6:24, Luke 6:13). You simply cannot obey Jesus as master and a pastor as master at the same time.
Obviously, the Biblical idea of church “leadership” (actually servant-watchmanship) has nothing whatsoever to do with power or control resting with men, but it has everything to do with all power and control resting solely with Christ as administered by the church as a whole. God has entrusted the people overall (e.g. We The People…) with the duty and responsibly of watching and speaking out against affronts to His will as found in His written Word. (I plan to expound on this more in an upcoming article). This is the basis upon which the founding fathers set up the American government and the US Constitution, which have now both come under serious attack.
So we need to stop listening to all the hot air of bloated windbags in dangerous churches who make outrageous nonsensical claims like, “I’m in charge but Jesus is in control”. The clever words of these sometimes even well-meaning deceivers sound wise, holy and very convincing to unwary people. Some of these so-called “leaders” are so arrogant and high-minded that they actually believe that anything they think, say or do, regardless of how ridiculous, is Jesus leading through them. (And many of these people are very successful in selling this garbage to their congregations who swallow it hook line and sinker.)
This kind of thinking reminds me of the similarly profound deception of Henry VIII who apparently believed that anything he said or did was God’s will and that God would never allow Him to speak or act contrary to His will. Not so. Henry VIII had a free will and he used that free will to murder a number of his wives. God had nothing to do with this famous king’s crimes and God is not to blame. We all have a free will and God has not made us robots or puppets on a string.
The Leadership Training Circuit - A Heavily Promoted Fraud
It seems like almost anywhere you go today in Christian circles, all you hear about is church leadership training, leadership classes, leadership seminars, leadership books, leadership teachings and other leadership materials. Leadership, leadership, leadership. (Control-based leadership.) It’s disgusting.
Leadership materials that are marketed to church leaders are all about how pastors and their staff can be better “equipped” to rally and organize large numbers people to do THEIR will (not God’s will of course) and manipulate money out of these people to pay for these things. Materials that are marketed to churchgoers in general are all about how they can be “better servants” (puppets!) and better mindless unquestioning robots to THEIR PASTOR’S will. So-called “Christian bookstores” are full of such wicked propaganda.
John Maxwell has been a very a popular teacher on the worldly leadership circuit and he is one of the worst promoters of a myriad of false manipulative techniques on how pastors can control and mobilize their congregations to participate in and pay for virtually any task that the pastor devises. You can liken this to putting people under some kind of spell. It’s manipulation very similar if not directly related to witchcraft. Maxwell teaches pastors how to manipulate people into doing whatever they want them to do, and he also inspires those same naïve followers to blindly follow such manipulation without question. What a game. What a con!
Maxwell takes his cues and gleans many of his pastoral “tips” from a number of ungodly worldly businessmen who have been successful making lots of money (as if that were some kind of spiritual qualification). This is nothing more than more worldliness in the church (which is the spirit of error see 1John 4:5-6) and is just more worldly business in the church cleverly passed off as genuine church life.
5They are of the world: therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. 6We are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears not us. Hereby we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
But we’ve got to hand it to him. Maxwell gets the job done. His teachings and materials are very very persuasive to the naïve and unwary, to the Biblically illiterate and undiscerning, and his materials get results, not God’s results of course, but man’s results. Teachers like John Maxwell have helped many “pastors” grow very large “churches” (slave camps to be exact) by enslaving and redirecting the energies and finances of a lot of dear souls.
Maxwell and his ilk play on the fact that ingrained western thinking gives the express impression that church “leaders” are supposed to be just like other western power-rulers such as controlling CEOs who’s dictates are to be followed promptly and without question. The assumption is God wants it this way. That is a very incorrect and highly dangerous assumption.
In the worldly sense, the words lead, leader and leadership convey an intrinsic, innate, inescapable and very specific non-removable component of power and control. Just think about it. In most cultures and as most cultures define these terms, he who leads is in charge and he who is in charge leads. He who is in charge is in control and he who is in control is in charge. From this perspective, you cannot separate the concepts of leadership and control (or the concepts or being in-charge and being in-control). This is because they are essentially and irrefutably one and the same.
In contrast, true church elders are not worldly leaders, slave-owners or abusers of humans as resources to achieve a personal agenda. They are not false “servants” as many today claim to be servants in mere lips service, but they are real genuine servants in actual practice. Such legitimate servants gain true respect from other Christians by behaving properly and respectfully toward God’s people while faithfully teaching the Bible correctly. This respect translates into influence among the Body, but not control of the Body
The Fruit And The Fallout
Not surprisingly, with all the propaganda and bad teachings on the subject, there is much unending preoccupation with the concept of leadership in the church today and this is almost all we hear about at times from ambitious people who aspire to leadership positions. It’s almost all they talk about. “I’m leading this ministry and so and so is leading that ministry. I’m hoping to also be able to lead this and lead that... We’ve got another great leadership training seminar tonight. Want to come?…” as nauseum, ad infinitem. It’s sickening. No thank you I don’t want to attend to your manipulation-training and fraud seminar. (I used to go to these kind of things when I had no clue. As a matter of fact, these meetings were mandatory for certain staff members (paid or unpaid) as well as some “up and coming” people in the church as decreed and mandated by THE (alleged) MAN OF GOD, THE PASTOR). [By the way, there is no such thing as a “man of God” that God establishes to run His churches. All Christians are Men and Women of God and they are supposed to grow up and act that way.]
Every ambitious wannabe wants to lead. Virtually none of these people actually want to serve, watch and warn, or admonish Christians to obey the simple commands of Scripture (see 2Tim 4:2, 1Thess 5:21, etc.). Of course they do want to spy and tattletale when it comes to preserving their manmade traditions and make sure you are following their PASTOR’S agenda. These people want power, control, prestige, honor, recognition, money, glory and on and on the selfish list goes. These are the budding thorn bushes, the next wave of corrupt politicians with endless empty promises that we have running most churches today and running them right into the ground. God’s people in general are so foolish today that many exalt the very people that the Bible says they should avoid and cast out:
11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not [are you not supposed to] judge those who are within the church? 13But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. 1Cor 5: 11-13 (NASB) [clarification added in brackets]
Failure of God’s people to obey this one simple passage results in a tremendous amount of spiritual, emotional, relational and financial abuse in the church.
Respect and Influence
The Bible teaches overall that respect and any resulting influence is earned by the teachings of sound doctrine and a life of good example. Not so among the leadership crowd. Respect and influence are gained by manipulation, extortion, fraud, dynamic personalities, politics and bureaucracy. Tyrants in the church enjoy illegitimate power generated by illegitimate respect and they then abuse the resulting unwarranted influence that they gain from unwary people.
Now, part of the job of a true elder or pastor (not the many false ones that we have running rampant today) is to recognize how proper respect and influence are gained in the church, to uphold these principles, to be watching and warning against any and all people who might rise up as usurpers and threaten the regime and headship of Christ and speak out against such people if they arise. These true humble protectors even keep a close eye on themselves to make sure that they don’t transgress these principles and become authoritarian kings among God’s people.
Such is a true dying to self and is part of REALLY serving, hence the servant “watchmanship” that the Bible teaches. There is not much if any real dying to self among the leadership crowd, although they would argue tooth and nail to the contrary. They excel at self-exhalation under the guise of servanthood, servanthood defined according to their terms and according to their re-definition of the word.
Nevertheless, most Christians hand out respect (that should be hard earned) like candy on a street corner. They fall all over themselves to almost worship any manipulative guy with a big impressive building, some kind of ridiculous degree or someone who is a fast talker with a rental facility or small building but with grand outspoken plans for expansion. And just like a tyrannical or out of control government, it’s all at the people’s expense!). It’s absolutely ridiculous.
Utter Failure To Set A Good Example
If the church had just done its job up until now by rejecting the false idea of church “leadership” and if the church had been setting a good example over the centuries in this regard, probably many more people would be very well aware of and probably very jealous of a far greater governmental system: specifically God’s idea of government by the people under God compared to ambitious men’s pursuit of autocratic tyrannical control.
Failure of the church to set a good example here has been a huge lost opportunity that could have intrigued many unbelievers, gained much credibility for Christianity in the eyes of a lot of people and could have ultimately lead many to Christ. However, it’s not too late for us to change going forward, and hopefully make a difference. But it won’t be easy. The devil has had and still has a very different plan and he has worked overtime to keep the world very blinded and blissfully unaware of the very important truths and distinctions between true and false leadership. By the grace of God, the American founding fathers in general were very well aware of both “leadership” systems and thankfully they set out to form a Godly system of government, a system that has come under tremendous attacks from selfish ungodly people and because of this America is now threatened with total collapse.
The Bible does not teach that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven will be those clever enough to make the most possible people servants to them. The greatest in the kingdom are those who are servant of all (Mark 10:44), not those who make all servants to them. We have our work cut out for us. We can begin by setting a good example in this regard.