Paradigm Shift: From Controlling Leadership to A|P|E|S|T Leadership

Paradigm Shift:

From Controlling Leadership to A|P|E|S|T Leadership

Lead as Jesus Led

If you were to define “president,” without using a dictionary, what words would come to mind? (Try to keep it general, not based on personal opinion).

Here’s a few that lists: chief, executive, controller, director

If you were to define “pastor” or “church leader” would it make sense to use some of the same words?

What happens when our concept of someone in the highest-ranking government leadership position overlaps with our concept of a leader called to lead in ministry?

Does the church need leadership? Absolutely. Does it need a leadership composed of rank, position, and authority? Not exactly.

Let’s take a look at Ephesians 1:22-23: “God placed all things under [Jesus’] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

A Biblical understanding of the “head of the church” is simply: Jesus. Jesus is the only one who is to be the ultimate authority in any church. Jesus then bestows authority on some to lead his Church under His Spirit’s leading and guiding.  Never did Jesus intend for the Church leadership to be controlling and dictatorial.  In fact, Jesus speaks to his disciples on leadership in Matthew 20:25-26, when he says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” This teaching is as much for the leader of the Church today as it was for those early leaders. 

Is it cultural conditioning that has us as Christ’s ambassadors often living out our leadership in the same way as societal leaders. It seems that this is nothing new. In the New Testament, the Jew’s biggest stumbling block to believing Jesus was the Messiah was that he was not this leader who came to overthrow the oppressive Roman government as they had expected.  It is also clear that the way Jesus led was not like those who were leading in the temple and synagogues.

It is absolutely vital to the health of our congregations, and ultimately, the Kingdom of God, that we look to the Bible and to Jesus for a model of how Jesus would have us lead. Let us allow this to help us restructure our leadership practices on how Jesus did it and in that way me my better point to him.

Jesus came and introduced the world to the one true King, and how we, as His servants, are to live. The difference between Jesus and an earthly king is how he served and loved. We not only need to look to Jesus as our model for leadership, but we need to let him alone be our leader – in our lives and in our churches.

When it comes to church leadership, the Bible uses the terms elder, bishop, and pastor interchangeably. Also, the New Testament is clearly in favor of a plurality of elders. Here are 32 references in which the Bible talks about elders in the plural form:,-In-The-Church

With Christ as the head and a plurality of elders, there is also a Biblical makeup for a team of elders. Ephesians 4 talks about five different types of “grace” or “calling” given to the church that of apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher (A.P.E.S.T.).  It would seem that having each of these represented in our leadership teams would help us avoid some of the vices we see in secular leadership and would lead towards a balance in inward and outward focus.   

Leadership within the church is not only to recognize how Jesus has bestowed authority on them to lead His church but that as they serve the church they are responsible to equip and empower believers for ministry. This is to take place in each of the five callings already mentioned and should not purely focus on one for example “teaching.”

May we resist the pressures of culture and fall into an authoritarian or controlling leadership style. May we take the time to recognize, encourage, and empower the unique giftings of the believers in the church and lead her towards greater fruitfulness so Jesus’ name will be made great. And most importantly, may we learn to submit ourselves to the church leader who “fills everything in every way.”

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