Refocusing Leadership Perspective

Have you ever sincerely asked yourself the true meaning and purpose of leadership and ministry, according to Christ’s perspective for His kingdom?

Many of today’s emerging leaders and churches have defined spiritual leadership and ministry through methods that are influenced by multiple factors based on the modern systems of this world.These systems have become their standard of measurement. Without doubt the principal role and the eternal purpose of God for kingdom leadership and ministry will be lost until there is a clear revelation and understanding of God’s intent for this, hence, there is a need to have a ‘Refocused Leadership Perspective’ to rediscover the pattern and principle of Christ.

“Ministry” comes from the Greek word “diakonia”, which means “to serve or to be a servant” – it also has a root word “douleuo”, meaning “to serve as a bond slave”. In the New Testament, the concept of ministry was service to God and to people in the name of Jesus.

I have researched for the word “leader(s)” or “leadership” in the New Testament bible in context to Jesus Christ and the early apostles’ teaching of leadership, and it would interest you to know that in the New Testament there is no record of Jesus Christ teaching His disciples the doctrine of leadership.And certainly nothing in line with what is popularly taught and perceived today in churches as the concept of leadership.

Jesus only taught His disciples servanthood. In the Bible what we call ‘leadership’ today is known as ‘servanthood’, and our word ‘ministry’ meant service as in the office of a servant.

Jesus didn’t call twelve LEADERS, He called twelve SERVANTS known as the disciples or the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. He didn’t call them to LEAD, He called them to SERVE.

The basic concept of the pattern and principle of Jesus’ ministry was servanthood. This is one of the patterns and principles missing today in most ministries, leadership styles and methods.And this missing concept disqualifies our work before the Lord.

The twelve disciples known as the apostles, once had a dispute among themselves on the road, after Jesus informed them about His coming betrayal and death (Mark 9:30-32). They did not understand what He was saying, and they were afraid to ask Him what He meant, instead they discussed and argued about ‘who should be the greatest’; that is to say, ‘who should be the leader?’, but Jesus called them and taught them the correct pathway:

“What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And He sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all” – Mark 9:33-35.

Again, two brothers, James and John, who were part of the twelve, made a request and asked Jesus to make them chief on the Council of the Twelve Apostles! One asked to sit on the right-hand of Christ when He sat on His ‘glorious throne’, and the other askedto be seated onHis left-hand. This request from James and John greatly displeased the other ten apostles, but Jesus called them to Himand made a profound revelation to them concerning His principle by which they must abide as His disciples:

“Jesus called His disciples and told them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers {leaders, chief} among the gentiles lord it over them {holding them in subjection}, and their superiors act like tyrants {exercising authority and dominion} over them. That’s not the way it should be among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to everyone, because even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many people” – Mark 10:42-45 ISV {Emphasis is mine}.

Clearly Jesus was explaining that those who belong to this world’s system have called themselves leaders to lord over the people, but; “…it shall not be so among you” – Mark 10:43. Jesus provided for us the pattern for ministry – “He came, not to receive service, but to give it and serve” – Mark 10:45. To be a true servant of Christ, this is the way it should be among us who belong to the Kingdom of God and who operate by God’s system.

True kingdom ministers and ministries must understand that they are divinely called to be SERVANTS of God, servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and servants to His Church. We are called to SERVE the Body of Christ. If we cannot SERVE then we cannot LEAD. The spiritual principle of authentic kingdom ministry and Christ’s leadership is service. It is bearing the office of a servant.

The five-fold ministry is composed of the five gifts of grace – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers,and it is given to the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ.These gifts of grace are a divine calling to the service of servant-hood and NOT an office to lord or wield authority over the saints, who are joint-heirs and inheritance of Christ.

If we clearly understand the saying of Jesus in Mark 9:35 and Mark 10:45, we would understand without doubt that the original intent of the five-fold ministry is not a calling for anyone to be “first in ranking” or to be chief, head, boss or number one in office, but rather it is a calling to be the last and the servant of all.

Even Paul the apostle made this bold statement, which is often undermined, that; “God has placed us apostles last in line, like people condemned to die. We have become a spectacle for people and angels to look at” – 1 Corinthians 4:9 GW.

We are so fond of highlighting the Greek word “proton”, meaning “first”, taken from 1 Corinthians 12:28, and emphasizing the fact that ‘God has appointed the apostles to be first’. The wrong perception which many have embraced from this is to think that the apostles have been divinely elevated by God to be a superior position, and to be more important than others, or to be chief among others. This has endeared many to desire the office and title of an ‘apostle’ to make them feel important, which has resulted to every Jack and Harry in the church today calling themselves apostles. Even some who actually carrya spirit of Jezebel are calling themselves apostles.

The proper meaning of the Greek word “proton” – “to be first” as applied in context to the apostles in the scriptures, is to be; “first in the order of service” [being a servant] and in function as a foundational ministry, laying the foundation for the building of the house of God. And the foundation is Christ.

In the building of a house, those who lay the foundation are the ‘first to labour’ before the others build upon that which is laid. This doesn’t make those who lay the foundation more important than the other labourers, but by job description they are simply first to labour. This is the same principle that applies to the apostles being appointed by God as “first” in the Church.

“Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” – Ephesians 2:20-23 Amplified Bible.

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I [Paul an apostle] have laid the foundation [which is Christ], and another [other ministry grace] buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” – 1 Corinthians 3:10.(Emphasis is mine)

If there is anyone to be “first”, it is simply the one who goes ahead of others to lead by example through his service of being a servant, so others are motivated to follow the Christ in him for the fulfillment of His will and purpose.

The apostles in scripturedid not address themselves as “leaders” nor did they claim to be in “leadership”, rather, they considered themselves to be ‘bond servants of Christ’ sent to serve the Church. They were simply following the teaching and example of Jesus who is the pattern.

Paul the apostle addressed himself as a bond servant of Jesus Christ:

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God” – Romans 1:1 NKJV.

“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness” – Titus 1:1.

“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” – 1 Corinthians 9:19.

Peter addressed himself as a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ:

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” – 2 Peter 1:1.

James identified himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ:

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting” – James 1:1.

The greatest honour of ministry is servanthood. Just like the parable of the talents, at the end when the Lord shall make reckoning of all things, it shall be said, “Well done, good and faithful servant” – Matthew 25:21, not “Well done, good and faithful leader, master, bishop, chief apostle or major prophet etc”. More so, at the consummation of all things;”before the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be His servants serving Him, and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads” – Revelation 22:3-4.

Therefore, the pathway to become a ruler in God’s Kingdom at the consummation of all things is to be a faithful servant.

“This is how one should regard us [the apostles], as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” – 1 Corinthians 4:1 – English Standard Version.

The highest form and the greatest honour and fulfillment of leadership in the Kingdom of God is service {being a servant}, because this is the purpose!

“He who is greatest among you shall be your servant” – Matthew 23:11.

A servant is one who has no will. His absolute desire is to please his master by doing the master’s will. The desire of the master is his desire. As disciples and servants of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, this must be the attitude and desire of our heart in order to fulfill God’s will in our lives and ministry.

“For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am in your midst as One Who serves” – Luke 22:27 Amplified Bible.

“When we, as followers of Jesus, finally realize that our calling is to serve – not merely to seek our own interests – then we will have an irresistible impact on our clients, our colleagues, and our community” – Dr. Walt Larimore.

“If you and I are to make the impact in life upon others that we should; if we are to fulfill God’s purpose and plan for our life; and if we’re to reap the maximum blessings that God has prepared for us; we, too, must develop the spirit of a servant, and our actions must be the actions of a servant. A servant who realizes that Jesus is not only our Savior, but He is the Master of our life. Any unwillingness or resistance to serve others in His name is an act of rebellion” – Dr. Charles Stanley.

When we lose focus on this primary principle of life and ministry, which is service, it will result in the inevitable consequenceof our true value and purpose being lost.

Ministry is principle and not position. Our significance and the development of excellence in life and ministry comes from living by principle, and not by position. Those who value position more than principle will soon lose both.

Efficiency and excellence in life and ministry requires that we adhere to the principles of Christ and His Kingdom, and by this we can significantly influence people and make an impact in our world.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority” – Ken Blanchard.

Religion offers people position in life and ministry, but the Kingdom of God offers people principles. Redemption is not primarily about a restoration to position or place of dominion, but it is a restoration of principle and purpose. The goal of man’s dominion is to SERVE God’s purpose.

The plan of God from the beginning was for man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, replenish and subdue the earth. God’s purpose for them was to rule,havingcomplete authority and dominion over the creation order. They were to govern creation and keep the earth under the rule of God as it is in heaven. They were blessed (empowered) to fulfill this purpose. This means their government was to SERVE God’s purpose. They were blessed to serve, so are we blessed to serve!

“God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth” – Genesis 1:26-28 Amplified Bible.

God’s blessing is connected to His purpose in and for us; and it is to serve. The blessing of God is a blessing of purpose. God only blesses purpose. We must therefore understand the purpose of God for us, and His original plan for our salvation, so we can serve creation to fulfill God’s will on earth. This is how we receive and walk in the blessings of God.

Unfortunately, we desire and fight for power, prestige, high positions and impressive titles to make us feel valuable, acceptable or of great significance. This misplaced priority and quest for titles, positions, dominion, status and power has opened the doors for sorcerers and familiar spirits to penetrate within the circle of believers to rule and control many. As the body of Christ we must get rid of this ‘celebrity spirit’ that is tied to the worldly concept of leadership and which is corrupting the minds of people and robbing the Church of her true purpose and glory of service.

This is one of the biggest challenges we have among leaders. We begin well in our high calling in God, but end up turning things around and making an idol of ourselves by building towards our own ambitions, establishing our own pet-names, ‘my ministry’, ‘my church’ and ‘my kingdom’, rather than the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

We should not compromise the principles of the Kingdom of God and deny the patterns of Christ because of our desire for worldly positions and the applause of men. Rather, we should surround ourselves with genuine men and women of kingdom principles whose life and ministry are governed by the rule of heaven, instead of being bound by the positions of men [or as men of positions] and miss the mark of His calling upon us to serve. Selah!


Copyright © 2017 by Israel Onoriobe

Our ministry is a faith-based ministry and this material is provided free of charge to the body of Christ for equipping the saints. If this material has been a blessing to you or a source of encouragement we ask that you prayerfully consider giving a love offering below via PayPal to help us carry the message of the Kingdom of God to the nations – (Hebrews 10:6). The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen (so be it).

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