…the older shall serve the younger.
– Genesis 25:23
Christian leadership operates on a principle at odds with worldly leadership. In the world, the older has authority over the younger, but in the kingdom of God the older serves the younger.
Notice how God sets the example. He Himself is older than everyone, yet He serves everyone. When the world had gone completely astray, He committed Himself to coming to earth as one of us to set an example. From the ignominious death He suffered in the fulfillment of that commitment, He was raised back to His place of majesty.
Likewise, you and I are to humble ourselves on earth that we might be exalted in heaven. If therefore you aspire to Christian leadership, know that you are aspiring to be a servant – not a ruler. It’s not about how many Christians you can be over, it’s about how many you can serve.
As Jesus taught:
“But do not be called Rabbi;
for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
Do not call anyone on earth your father;
for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
Do not be called leaders;
for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”
– Matthew 23:8-10
If we are all brothers, then those of us who are older (i.e. who have been walking with the Lord longer) should set out to serve our younger brethren – not lord it over them.
Consider also how Jesus responded when His disciples pestered Him about who was “the greatest” (i.e. who would be in charge when He wasn’t around?):
And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
– Luke 22:24-27
Survey the institutional church today and see that leaders do not “become like the youngest” or “like the servant.” Rather, they have authority over their flocks. And indeed the flocks are theirs and not the Lord’s. This is the case whether it’s a mega-church of thousands or a small church of less than a hundred.
It’s not about hoarding the sheep; it’s about feeding the sheep.