JohnSWilson3 Blog

Choosing Not To Use The Word “Leadership” in the Body of Christ.
August 6, 2011, 8:58 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes, A Gospel According to Matthew

This is a response (edited and expanded) to a dear brother related to the usual confusion of added words and mistranslated words in the New Testament that forms the basis of a hierarchical institutionalism in the body of Christ. Thought others might benefit from it. I have written on this a few times, :).

To see the discussion you can go to “Organic Church”:!/groups/8551903965/

I have chosen not to use the word “leadership” in the body of Christ because it automatically creates a clergy-laity divide. Whether we believe it or not, it always does. The word “office,” such as in 1 Timothy, is not in the original language it was added because of institutional bias. The points and your use of words you bring up are points brought up in any institutional church and to add them into a body of Christ learning to live by the headship of Jesus Christ organically is to go back to a form of institutionalism.

Words have meaning. Jesus’ example of washing the disciples feet is in context of “as I have loved you so you must love one another.” Christ Jesus is the real purpose, is the real motivation as we live by His life together, because He is the Head, the Leader, the Source of life together in and to and through one another.

There are “older persons” (mistranslated as elders and often taken as an “office”) in the body who have learned to hear, believe, and follow Jesus, loving one another, and as we see them live by Christ’s life we also can learn to live by the Spirit as well. These “older persons” are brothers and sisters, they are only guides in the body, guides in learning to express Christ together in loving familial relationships. Each member is called to live by the life of Christ, expressing that gift/function in face to face community with other brothers and sisters and expressing His love to family, friends, and co-workers, but it is expressed as a family, brothers and sisters helping each other. As a result Christ Jesus Himself is the real Mentor, the real Discipler, and it is the Spirit who gifts and enables each member to function in the body (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12). Only in this context does each member with the body together grows, and this growth is the fuller expression of the life of Christ.

With Christ as our only Head and Leader, He will lead, guide, and deploy the body as He desires. To make this as “our” objective is to lord it over others whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Hear the words of Jesus: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matt 20:25-28; “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matt 23:8-12.

Institutionalism is very difficult to shake off it seems.


8 Comments so far
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Comment by Kristine

Good post, John. We certainly can’t use the word “leadership” without making a distinction. I think we like having leaders because it takes the responsibility off of ourselves.

Comment by Peter

so true brother. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

Comment by John Wilson

Are you saying that their is no apostolic or elder’s authority in the body?

Comment by Michael Salmon

Michael, what do you mean “no apostolic or elder’s authority in the body?” What kind of authority do you mean because when you use that word it could mean many different things. Your choice of words tends to indicate those words refer to positions and titles. What authority did those with apostolic function have in the body in the New Testament? From what I read only in helping the body remember their foundation of Christ and to move forward in Christ, but they let the body work that out. “Older persons” is what “elders” means, an older person spiritually with no titles and no positions, just another brother or sister, a family member in the body, a bit further down the road in living by the life of Christ and knows the importance of keeping Christ as head of His body. Any other way to describe these functions is to open the door to a hierarchal way of thinking about the ekklesia that was never intended in the body of Christ and opens the door to abuse, which is what we have today in the institutional church. Christ said He had all authority and it is His life who lives in His body. So help me out brother on what you mean by “their” “authority.” Blessings.

Comment by John Wilson

Brother wilson how do we explain that paul told timthy and titus (methinks) to appoint elders (or spiritually mature) to lead the local churches. in a family there must be leaders: those who guide. your doctrineis kind of difficult to understand. iam being honest.

Comment by rafa

brother Rafa, thank you for your comments. Looking at the letter to Timothy, Paul did not instruct Timothy to appoint elders. Paul did inform Timothy what the function of watching over (not a title or position of bishop or overseer) in the body of Christ looked like, those who have a heart for the body of Christ to keeping Christ as Head of the church. This was in contrast to the bad fruit of those who were giving false teaching to the body, causing the ekklesia to shift their focus away from Christ as Head. Looking at the letter to Titus, Paul is essentially asking Titus to do what he and Barnabas did during their first apostolic journey in Galatia and that was to “point out” (which is the better translation) to the other brothers and sisters in the ekklesias in each city, those who were living by the life of Christ as an example for the other brothers and sisters of what living by the Spirit looks like and how the ekkelsias keep Christ as head in the body. If you notice later in Titus healthy teaching is learning to live like a family in the body where each member respects and honors one another. I agree with your word of “guide” and may I also include the word “care” because these two words are the literal word used in places where the Bible says “lead” or “rule.” The word lead or leader is never used in scripture except for Jesus Christ, because He is the leader of the body. He leads through His people. To call a brother or sister a leader is to give them the credit that should be given to our Lord who is directing and guiding through them. Brother if you want to call them leaders go ahead, my take is that in our modern institutional church when the word leader is used in the minds of the people you have already created a clergy-laity divide, whether intentionally or not. Your thought “in a family there must be leaders” is a yes and no statement. Yes, if in a physical family we must have human leadership in order to control the flesh and therefore requires rules and regulations. No, if in a spiritual family because Christ indwells each member and now as each member lives by His life, putting off the flesh and putting on Christ, He now is the only Leader necessary. In fact this is an analogy of the old covenant versus the new covenant. Hope this helps better explain what I said brother.

Comment by John Wilson

Agree John, let’s ‘lead’ the ‘lost,’ never the ‘found,’ let’s ‘serve’ them in the body. If you are OT guy then you ‘lead’ God’s people, why? simply because the HS is ‘borrowed’ only for ‘awhile’ to specific people [king’s priest and prophets]but in NT you simply cannot ‘lead’ God’s people anymore because ‘every one’ is ‘given’ not ‘borrowed’ the gift of the Holy Spirit. So each disciple is ‘led by Spirit.’ It is only confusing for them when we try to lead them instead of serving them. “Leadership is not how many people are behind you but how many you’re behind” says Gary Goodell, but yet that’s not leadership then but servanthood. Many biblically qualified great servants in the church has a hard time serving because they are used to tell others what to do! Jesus said, “He who wants to be great shall serve.” This has nothing to do with greatness is leading, but greatness is serving. Get the point? At this very Scripture Jesus is talking about that in the world it’s about leadership, but in the Kingdom it’s always the other way around. Remember Joseph the dreamer? It is Pharaoh who makes him a leader, never his own father nor his family. Joseph leads the world for a purpose but when he represents himself to his family, he says, “I am your brother Joseph.” Last thing, have you recognize or is this too reconizable? When talking about leadership there is so much hierarchy terms, top-down leadership names, [superior, inferior, subordinates, first reverend, second reverend, executive pastor, assistant pastors, junior pastors, etc], “a leader should set a good example,” sorry he cannot because he keeps on telling people what to do. And if he does ‘set’ indeed a good example to do them then he stops being a leader and starts becoming a ‘servant.’ And when he becomes a servant then you cannot think of any hierarchy anymore, everything drops to the ground hey. Do not let anyone confused you, that ‘a leader is a servant-leader’ – who is he a 50% servant and a 50% leader? And where is that in the Bible? All Scriptures that these people have been using, using them as ‘leadership’ Scripture is really about ‘servanthood’ scriptures. One says to me, ‘a leader is humble’ I ask him, “If he is humble, then he should be the servant right?” Only Jesus is the Leader, everyone follows Him and serves his brother. Don’t get me wrong, there is leadership that we have been gifted to, that’s not the question, the question is – Where are we going to use it? Is it those who are ‘found’ already that is INSIDE the Kingdom or to those who are ‘lost’ that are OUTSIDE? Lead the lost, serve the found.

Hey Michael, ‘elders’ you said are leaders? Sorry, Peter, James, Paul – they call themselves ‘elders’ but said they are ‘servants’ never leaders. Check their introductions to their letters. “Peter, a bondservant…” So, elders are servants, not leaders. Simple as that my brother.

Comment by molong nacua

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