It is not easy to be a leader, in any field. Although this passage refers to spiritual leadership in the church, the principles also apply in the professions, business, academia and in the family. Indeed, it is amazing to see how modern books on leadership, management and parenting advocate a return to Christian ethics (even if they are not described as such, nor their Biblical origin recognised). Shakespeare was a good observer; he wrote, "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" (Twelfth Night Act III Scene I). The key question, though, is how do we deal with the challenge?
Christians accept that God is the ultimate authority and that humans merely have delegated authority. In the church, the flock are God's sheep and not the Pastors' - they serve as 'foremen' but not owners. Those who have 'greatness thrust upon them' can either resent their role, or value it as a privileged appointment from God Himself. Spiritual leadership that is resentful is out of order with God. Leaders must not be 'in it for what they can get out of it', but eager to give everything they can (even if they get little in return). Those who calculate their ministry by the money or benefits they receive are hardly fit to be the Lord's servants.
The potential to misuse God's delegated authority to get personal power, is seen in churches as well as businesses, in charities as well as banking. Jesus was different; He demonstrated servant-leadership. He laid down His own life so that others might live. Philippians 2:1-13 graphically draws the parallel between Jesus and those who claim to follow Him. Where the church is led by those who live like that, it grows to God's glory. Such people are not weak, but they have chosen to place their strength at the Lord's disposal. Yes, leadership will always be lonely; but if we are willingly submitting to the Lord, we will never be alone.
© Dr Paul Adams