Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ministry Leader Titles and The Heart of Spiritual Leadership

A few nights ago, I was emailing back and forth with another church planter friend about what the Bible says about church leadership roles. What does it mean to pastor a church or to serve as an elder or deacon? The mere mention of these ministry leader titles brings many different thoughts to mind, some good and helpful, others not so. Titles can be confusing. I think it is important that our church leaders understand their biblical responsibilities and that their titles match what they do in service to the church. Perhaps that could help reduce some of our confusion about church leadership.

But as I was reading Matthew 23 this morning, I was reminded that the most important thing about leadership in our churches is not the titles leaders are given, but rather the heart of those spiritual leaders. In Matthew 23, Jesus takes on the spiritual leaders of his day, and he calls out the hypocrites. Having a true heart of spiritual leadership demonstrated in self-sacrificing service to others is so much more important than the titles we give our ministry leaders. In truth, we too often make even our ministry titles into idols.

Matthew 23:1-12 (ESV): "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

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