Leadership, Servanthood, and Christ

Mark Galli penned some insightful thoughts about leadership and servanthood today that I think are well worth thinking through. In a nutshell, he's questioning whether the notion of "leadership" is biblical—a rather hefty charge—and whether we should simply abandon (or at least curb) it in favor of "servanthood". His argument is tempting, but ultimately, as with so many debated issues, language appears to be the biggest problem. Meaning is not in terms themselves, e.g. leadership, but in how those words are used by certain people in certain contexts. Some people may call themselves leaders, but really act as servants. Likewise, others may call themselves servants, but actually exercise a great deal of leadership, and maybe even too much.

My two cents are that the word "leader" is not a biblical term, but that leadership is exemplified in Scripture, both Old and New Testament. A brief warning about radical biblicism: just because certain words or phrases are not explicitly stated in Scripture does not mean that the concepts they signify are "unbiblical". What's key is that the concept be found in Scripture. Secondly, common sense and discernment tell us that many important issues and priorities which are not made explicit in the Bible demand serious attention. I could make a huge list (e.g. culture, linguistics, mathematics), but suffice it to say that leadership is one of those inescapable priorities. It's simply a sociological phenomenon. Leaders always exist, at every level of society, and in every religious manifestation. What's important is exercising it appropriately, i.e. consistently with biblical values. We have to take great care always that we do not "lord our authority" over one another, but that we recognize that "the last will be first, and the first will be last."

What are your impressions or reactions to the article?

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