Matthew 20:27, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”.
Matthew 23:21, “And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.”
Mark 10:42-45, 42 “But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister. And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The truth of this article will cure 95% of the marital problems of those who read it. This truth could stop 95% of the marriages headed to divorce court. I will tell you what could stop the largest part of the church problems that exist in America. Most of the problems we have between labor and management could be solved with this Bible truth.
None of us have all of the answers, but we all have a Bible available to us that does have the answers. This answer is a truth which could be revolutionary if practiced.
If you hold any type of a position of leadership, please take special heed to this article. Our concept of leadership in the day and time in which we live, is a perverted one, in my opinion. Take note of Mark 10:42-45. The Jews used the word “Gentile” in the sense of meaning heathen. Uncle Sam, to us, means America. Gentiles, to them, meant heathen.
In Mark 10:42, God discloses that with heathen people, the leaders are lords. Heathen people have this hierarchy, but Christian people should not. However, in verse 45, God said, “…but so shall it not be among you. Whosoever be great among you shall be your minister”. Then, in verse 45, God uses Jesus as an illustration.
Please allow me to address those of you who hold positions of leadership, and all of us, to one extent or another, have some positions of leadership. I am speaking to myself, as well! I am speaking to pastors, pastoral staff, administrators, college teachers, academy teachers, coaches, choir directors, parents, bus captains, Sunday school teachers, and Sunday school superintendents.
Unfortunately, our interpretations of the above mentioned verses are flawed. We presume the servant is the greatest. An example would be when we say, “Whosoever serves is the greatest person.” However, that is not what these verses teach. This is teaching that the greatest is to serve. It is not saying that if you serve you become the greatest. It is saying that the greatest should serve the least.
Take into consideration verse forty-five, where the purpose of greatness is serving. The person who has the greatest title, comparable to that of the kings and rulers, should be the servant, as explained back in verses forty-two and forty-three. He says the person who has the greatest title is supposed to serve those who have lesser titles!
Since the title Pastor is the greatest in the local church, the pastor is supposed to serve the members and not the members the pastor. God is speaking of those with the titles and positions, that they should be the servant.
This means that the teacher is supposed to be a servant of the pupils. The leader is to serve the follower! The administration is to serve the schools and the students! One is not great because he or she is a servant, but one is a servant because he or she is great!
When we say, “He serves over there” that does not make him great! The Bible is saying that if you are the “Big Shot” you are supposed to serve. The heathen say that those who are under are supposed to serve those who are over them. That is heathenism, according to God!
It is unfortunate that some preacher boys cannot wait to graduate so they can lord over a local church somewhere. That is not why God gives the title Pastor. God puts you in the ministry so, as pastor, you can serve those dear members. God explains that, among the heathen, those of the lower positions serve the highest. However, Jesus said and modeled by His life, that the one in the higher position is supposed to serve the one in the lower position.
If God’s people could wrap their arms around this truth, it would revitalize marriages, homes, parenting, and job environments. Those of you who are dictating in the home, the school, the work place, and in churches are nothing more than little Hitlers, and your thousand-year reign will not last a thousand days! Some of you males, who have Ephesians 5:25 tattooed on your forehead, are exposing your spiritual ignorance.
I am the leader of my home and since I am the leader I am to serve! Swallow deep! You read it correctly! It does not say I am to have my wife serve me; that would make her the greatest. I want to be the greatest! Thus, I must serve! God is saying, “Whosoever has the title; if he serves, he is the greatest”.
The word “father” happens to be the highest title in the home, because it comes from the name God the Father. Thus, the father in the house represents God the Father. If the father in the home serves his wife, then, and only then, does he become the greatest! If that were true, then one goes down to go up in God’s economy!
In our house I serve Mrs. Gray. Leadership is when one serves one so well that God gives you two to serve. Then you serve two so well that God gives you four to serve, and you serve four so well that God gives you eight to serve. The first church I pastored I served those people, and by serving them I loved them.
We had a forty drive-in crowd with ninety on the buses. This church grew until we were averaging 500. God, then, sent us to Texas: not to lead, but to serve. We averaged 400 to 500. After a split in March of 1981, our church grew to averaging 2,041 by 2009 when I retired with a membership of 10,000. I served those people, and every pastor who desires the blessings of God must SERVE the people of God!
God gave us more to serve after we served the ones God gave us to begin with. Most young men of God want authority, not service. God gives you and me opportunities to serve via a title. What most people desire is a title of “Boss” but God only calls those with titles ‘great’ when they serve. The job of leader is to serve the follower.
LEADERSHIP WAS CREATED BY GOD TO SERVE
Our government was created by God to do three things: to protect our person, property, and our freedom. The Police Department is there to protect my personal safety and my family by serving. The Fire Department is there to protect my person and my property by serving.
Government was created to serve. Government was never meant to educate or create. When Government exceeds its purpose of serving, it creates chaos in our society. The less interference by government, the more the ingenuity and creativity of the individual citizen can benefit our nation.
When a pastor, pastoral staff, principal, or teacher begins to feel empowered by a title, they have ceased to be able to serve. When a pastor has to remind the church he pastors that he is the pastor, he is not the pastor. He may have the title but he does not have the anointing of God or of those who follow him.
There are two anointings on a leader: one by God and the other by the people. God may call a man to pastor a church and the people vote him down. God may call a man to pastor and he turns God down even though the people want him to be their pastor. A man who is called by God and the people call him, also, still may forfeit his right to lead because he refuses to serve and demands to be served!
LEADERSHIP MAY EVOLVE INTO LORDSHIP
I, as pastor, would go to God on the people’s behalf and, then, to them on God’s behalf. If I were to reverse it then I would be exercising “lordship”. When I would preach a strong message on sin, I was not attempting to be “lord” over them and control them for I was simply trying to warn them about things that would wreck their lives, according to God’s Word, and not my word. A pastor is serving the people when he preaches against sin, just as a policeman is serving by giving you a speeding ticket.
The pastor and staff prepare the materials for the church members so they can function as Sunday school teachers, bus drivers, bus captains, altar workers, name takers, baptistery workers, usher, choir member, soul winning clubs, Christian school, and maybe a Bible College, etc. When the bus driver shows up on Sunday morning, the bus is ready to roll. The Sunday school classroom is ready on Sunday morning. The auditorium is clean and all is ready for a Sunday service. All of this is serving! The counseling, the preaching, the teaching, the administration, and the leadership are all serving the members!
LEADERSHIP MAY EVOLVE INTO THE FOLLOWER SERVING THE LEADER
I believe the only reason some surrender to the ministry is to obtain a parking spot close to the building with their name on a parking sign! America is in trouble because of how we have perverted that which God created which entailed serving instead of being served. Politicians who want to be President are the ones who should not be President of these United States. When followers push someone to the top, it will always be because that person served well those whom he led!
THEN COMES DECAY
When those who hold titles fail to serve those they lead, then decay begins from within. When the father of the home fails to serve and lives off of his title, the home will begin to decay. When the pastor of a local church fails to serve and lives off of his title, that particular church will begin to decay. When the President of a nation fails to serve the nation he presides over and lives off of his title, then decay begins in that nation. This is true of businesses or government at every level.
Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Jesus came to serve us and it would do us well to copy Jesus, our Saviour, in our relationships in life. I am speaking to tyrannical husbands who treat their wives like they were your children, or like a slave. The same is true of politicians, pastors, teachers, or parents who spend more time ranting and raving than teaching and training.
Let me share with you an example. In the old Baptist denomination of which our family was part, they had what was called a State Missionary. He was hired by the State Association to start churches in the state.
However, after a while he became the man who recommended pastors to those churches. Then after a while, he would find himself checking up on those churches and their new pastor. After a while, he became a little “pope” who meddled in everybody’s business. In the Southern Baptist Convention these men are called District Missionaries and, in some cases, called District Superintendents. Before we know it, we create titles that are not found in the Scriptures and then decay begins.
The highest title is there to serve people and no one is great because you serve: you are great because you use your title to serve! If you are the right type of a leader, your wife will let you be the “boss”. If you are the right type of a parent, your children will let you be the “boss”. If you are the right type of Pastor, your people will let you be the “boss”. If you are the right type of a teacher, the students will let you be the “boss”. If you are the right type of a bus captain, your bus workers will let you be the “boss”. Only when there is a title with no or little service do you find a revolt!
Jesus said, in the heathen world the big shot is the lord over the follower; but in Jesus’ world, the man who has the highest title is supposed to be servant of all. For thirty-three years I pastored. How did I serve during those thirty-three years?
• I averaged counseling twenty-nine folks a week for thirty-three years.
• I spent thousands of hours attempting to salvage marriages.
• I spent thousands of hours attempting to salvage children.
• I spent thousands of hours attempting to salvage businesses.
• I spent seven to eight hours per sermon.
• I spent seven to eight hours per Bible study.
• I served by challenging God’s people.
• I served by teaching God’s people.
• I served by organizing God’s people to win souls.
• I served by creating multiple ministries for God’s people to serve in.
• I spent twenty hours a week praying.
• I spent fifteen hours a week winning souls to Christ.
• I spent thousands of hours keeping the bills paid.
• I spent thousands of hours helping staff to reach their potential so they could serve more effectively.
• I served by teaching Wednesday Night Bible Studies.
• I served by teaching Sunday school.
• I served by preaching Sunday mornings.
• I served by preaching Sunday nights.
• I served by keeping God’s people motivated to win souls.
• I served by teaching God’s people how to serve God by serving man.
• I served by writing books.
• I served by walking guard around our ministries to make sure they stayed the same for our grandchildren.
• I served by paying our bills on time.
• I served by overseeing everything.
• I served by having departmental meetings.
• I served by having staff meetings.
• I served by providing places for God’s people to serve.
• I served by providing ministries for the youth.
In March of 1981, 400 plus people walked out on our church. The reason they left was because I refused to allow them to exercise “lordship” over me. The question was not whether I would be “boss” or not, it was would I be allowed to “serve” them or not.
Do not forget the chain of command: God to God’s man to God’s people. God serves us and God’s man serves God’s people.
It is not God’s people to God’s man to God. The flow comes from top to bottom, not bottom to top. The one with the Title is great when he serves and not “lords” over God’s people. If God’s people refuse to allow God’s man to serve, then they will miss out on the blessings of God. The same is true for you businessmen, husbands, parents, teachers, and principals.
Jesus was teaching them and is today teaching us, that if you are the kind of leader who is bossy, then you are like the heathen. The “boss man” ought to be the servant. The word “leader” is not mentioned one time in the New Testament. The word “servant” is mentioned, in the singular, sixty-nine times in the New Testament.
It is not the job of the husband to dictate. It is his job to serve those he loves so much that they would not want anyone else to lead them. The leader who serves by establishing boundaries based on Bible principles, and consistently serves within those boundaries will discover the blessings of serving.
Moses was never called a leader, but he was called a “servant.” Paul was never called a leader, but he was called a “servant.” James was never called a leader, but he was called a “servant.” John, Joshua, Jonah, Abraham, Caleb, Hezekiah, Job, Isaiah, Jacob, Samuel, King David, and Jesus Himself were never called leaders, but they were called a “servant.”
Those of you who have the titles are to serve those who have the lesser titles. The one who holds the title is only great if he or she serves, and not because of the title. The greatest is not the servant, but the one with the title who serves!