Jesus is the Only "Boss"
Mulowe, Africa 1996
What Makes a Leader?
There are two kinds of leaders. One is a leader from the heart, out of a current relationship with God. Another is a leader by position who may have a title and may be the official “head person,” the official boss. Jesus said that a leader by position must not be so. The leaders of the Church are those who are walking most closely with God TODAY. If a brother or sister is not walking closely with God today, he may not be considered very much of a leader. If a person last week perhaps was not so close to God but has repented of the sin in his life and now is better able to hear God, he is more of a leader this week than he was last week. “Being a leader” comes out of relationship with God and God’s people. It is not out of an office or a title. We have many leaders in the city where I live, but we have no “officers.” A leader this week may not be a leader next week. Jesus said all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to HIM. This is still true. So, as much as we can hear Jesus, who has all authority, that’s how much authority a man has—only as much as he can hear Jesus. That’s all. “ALL authority in Heaven and on earth” belongs to Jesus, He said. A person who does not know or obey Jesus can only be a “figurehead.” Such a person may need to be obeyed as far as conscience allows, if they have a “position,” but they are only a “leader” in as far as they know, love, and obey the Head, Jesus.
Birthed Out of Laziness
There is a basic streak of laziness in us that makes us want to hide in the background and let someone else fight our battles for us; that’s where clergy and laity came from. Very early in the history of the church, all the way back in the second century, 1800 years ago, people began to want a king to rule over them. They wanted to have a “holy man” to be in charge of the church.
Perhaps this man was very close to God, but instead of wanting everyone to be a priest, God’s people wanted to have a “holy man” to fight their battles. They wanted to take one man and make him king of the church. And perhaps this man was a very good man. The problem is not that this man had a relationship with God; it’s good for every man to have a relationship with God. Perhaps this man had a strong and valid gift, but when he is set apart as being special and is called “the boss of the church,” then there’s a problem. That place is for Jesus alone. Jesus is the only boss of any True Church. A “pastor” must not be the boss of a church; there are no bosses but Jesus.
There is actually an example in the Bible of these two very different kinds of leaders. Samuel and Saul were both leaders of God’s people, Israel. Samuel was a man of God who had influence in the nation because he knew God. Samuel had many of the qualities of a king in Israel—but Samuel wasn’t a king! However, Saul was called a king. Israel wanted to have a king—they wanted to have one man be the boss. They wanted someone to replace Samuel, and they wanted a “king” like the nations around them. In some ways the leadership might look similar, but Samuel did not have a “position” of authority. Samuel functioned out of his relationship with God, and Saul functioned out of his position/office. Samuel had no office, secretary, nor salary. He was not in a “staff position” as king. Samuel was just a man of God who was respected as much as a king, but he had no office or position. He was not a king. He was not a “pastor.” He just loved God with all his heart. And because he could hear God, he had influence. He had no position...he had influence. If a man truly knows God, he will help God’s people. If he is called by God, he will be helping people. I will say it again: a true man of God has no position... he has influence. Job, chapter 29, is a description of a man respected by God and men, and feared and hated by satan. Such a man needs no office or title or salary. If you are like Jesus, you will need no “power.”
As an example, if I am a carpenter, I build things with wood. I make a chair, a table, or a door out of wood if I’m a carpenter. If I’m a mason, then I make things with bricks. Something I made out of bricks is the proof that I’m a mason. Something I made out of wood is the proof that I am a carpenter. Well, in the Bible this word “pastor” (a poor translation, actually) refers to a gift of shepherd, functioning daily amongst God’s people alongside of other gifts—not a boss or “talking head” at a meeting. Where is the proof that I’m a pastor/shepherd? The proof is that I love God’s people! I help them day and night. I don’t need an office to do that. I don’t need a title. I don’t need to be boss. I just love people with the gift that I have, and I help them. The proof that I’m a carpenter is the chair I’ve made. The proof that I’m a pastor/shepherd is that I feed God’s people every day, and they are closer to Jesus because of me. If I see that one of God’s people is hungry, it breaks my heart. If I see that one of God’s people is in trouble or in danger, the shepherd’s heart inside of me runs after them to protect them. That’s the proof that I’m anointed of God to be a pastor. I don’t need a name tag. I don’t need a certificate on the wall and a diploma from a bible college. I need a heart to love and to do God’s work, and will therefore bear supernatural fruit in any area in which He may have gifted me.
So, you’re a carpenter? Then make chairs. You have the gift of shepherd? Then love people—feeding them, protecting them, and helping them. This is true for any gift! The proof of any gift is in the fruit that it bears.
The opposite of all this is also true, of course. It’s an amazing fact that pagans in science and medicine and industry actually demand that those with opinions and critiques and self-proclaimed “expertise” have something to show, some fruit in their own lives, to demonstrate that they have a right to pontificate or lecture or condemn others. In the religious world, amazingly, there is far less integrity than even the pagans demonstrate. In religion, however, people are often far more blind and prejudiced. Criticism, expertise, judgments, and even relationship sabotage and slander flow easily from those with terrible fruit in their lives, families, and assemblies. Utterly amazing, but true, if you watch man’s religion carefully and honestly. A person who does such things as lie or slander or act like an expert in engineering, or medicine, or business can actually be imprisoned. But, in religion they easily can gather an audience amongst the fearful or naive or those who can be coerced, blackmailed, or flattered into submission to the unfruitful machine and “experts.” Weird, but true. It happens all the time, because that’s how faulty empires keep their numbers. Fear and flattery, gossip, innuendo, slander, or emotional blackmail. No wonder Jesus didn’t do well in the accepted religious world of His day. But, we can learn from Him and embrace the Scripture, and look for Fruit, not hear-say with agendas and hidden skeletons, budgets, and egos to protect.
Well, you get the idea. : )
“You Rejected ME!”
This is true for any gift. But men have destroyed much of Christianity by wanting to have a king. Samuel was not a king; he was a man of God. Saul was a king, and he destroyed God’s people. God said, “They’ve not rejected you, Samuel; they’ve rejected God.” When we want to have a man as boss, we are rejecting God. Samuel had great influence because he knew God, not because he had the position of king.
They almost look the same, don’t they? Someone from another country could come to Israel and say, “You have a king! Samuel is your king!” Israel would say, “Well, I know he looks like a king, because he is deeply respected and appreciated, but he is not a king. We have no king but God. Samuel just knows God very well. So we respect him and love him.” Other nations thought Israel had a king, King Samuel. But he was not a king. He was a man of God. He had no position. He went here, he went there, he disappeared, and he came back. Kings don’t do that. Men of God do that. Israel wanted to replace Samuel when he got old. They wanted to have a king like the other nations (or like the other denominations)!
When we want to have someone be boss over us, someone to fight our battles, then we reject God. 1 Samuel 8:7: “They have not rejected you, Samuel, they have rejected God.” We must not try to have men be our boss. We must love the Samuels among us that know God, respecting them and responding to them, while accepting no position of boss except for Jesus Himself. We listen for Jesus’ voice in Samuel. And, as it says in 1 Corinthians 14, when revelation comes to the next “Samuel,” let the first “Samuel” sit down. This is very good.
I would like you to hear what happens when you have a king over you. When you want to have a “bossman,” a clergyman. Here is the bad fruit that comes from it:
“He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.’ But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles’” (1 Samuel 8:11-20).
When we want to have a king over us, when we want to have an official boss in the church, he will steal our vision, steal our children and our money, and will make us his puppets. These things are not good. But they happen all over the religious world. In every country we have ever been to, wherever there is clergy/laity, wherever there are two classes of Christians—the bosses and the normal people—the hearts of the people are stolen. The gifts do not come forth. The gift of mercy and the gift of help are squashed. The gift of teaching and the gift of generosity...these things are squashed. When one man is in charge rather than Jesus being in charge, the hearts of the people are stolen.
God’s people prospered under Samuel because he did not have a position, he had a gift. It seems like a small change from Samuel to Saul because they both seem like kings. But one is a gift and the other is a position. When it’s a gift, God’s people prosper. When they have a position over them, God’s people are squashed, according to the Word of God. God can still use it for some good things. David was a good king. Some good things can happen when the system is wrong. But God said, “I have a better way. My way is Samuel, not Saul.” He said, “I can do some good things if you have a king, but when the problems come you will cry out and I will not answer.” This is what has happened in the denominations, because they build around a man’s gift and they make a man king. He could have been a Samuel, but they made him a Saul. And he was willing to let them make him king.
Some good things can still happen, but on the day of their calamity, they will cry out to God and He will not hear them, and things will fall apart. There will be politics and power plays and there will be gossip and slander, and all these curses that God said would happen will happen. While God can do many good things in any situation, we want only the best. Isn’t this true? God can bless anything out of His mercy, His kindness and His patience. But let’s build His way so that we can get the full blessing! Let’s have many Samuels among us instead of one Saul. Amen?
Another difficulty that could happen is if a man goes to get a religious title and education in a seminary, although his heart might be right, when he puts on himself a title, he has to pretend to be something that potentially he really is not. He could have a lot of difficulties in his household, with his marriage and his children, or with roommates and parents. However, because he has a religious title, people will look up to him, instead of just seeing him as a brother among brothers. He will have to act a certain way that’s different than the way he acts at home, as opposed to just being a brother among brothers. There is something inside of us that makes it difficult for us to question the life of the “boss.” So the leaders in a church should not want titles that would hinder the input and help of others in their lives.