Less Leadership, More Following

Were you aware that Jesus actually spoke on following 4 times more than he spoke about leading? It is true. In fact, much of Jesus’s teaching was dominated by the topics of submission and following. Yet, when you do a quick search on Christian bookstores for the topic of submission, the results are minimal and poor. When you change that search to the topic of “following” you will find much more. However, if you are really wanting a wide selection to choose from, Christian leadership has more results than both submission and following combined. Christian leadership is such a buzzword and a trend in American Christianity today, but I think this topic is desired more for the American feel than the Christian.

Jesus was not nearly as obsessed with Christian leadership as the American church is.

Do not get me wrong, I believe God calls some people to positions of leadership and authority. But in these positions, it is to fight for the oppressed and stand up for justice, not to lord over others. Why then do so many Christians long for power and position all while refusing to actually serve, submit, and follow?

Submission is a basic characteristic of a spiritual man or woman.

Jesus does not call every man or woman to a position of leadership, but he calls them all to follow. He does not call them all to rule, but he calls them all to submit. He does not call them all to seek power, but he calls them all to serve.

Our American values scream “freedom or die!” while our God tells us to “die and be free.”

Submission is central for believers for this very reason. Submitting requires sacrifice, and it requires dying to yourself. If I tell my 3-year-old to eat candy for dinner, he is not submitting. That did not cause a sacrifice and a pain to put something to death. No, submission is only submission when it is going against my will, my plans, and my desires. It means that the all-powerful god of “me” must die and submit to someone else.

Submission and servanthood are so foreign to our American and English culture, that your dictionary will not pull up servanthood as a word. As I type this, it is underlined in red and wants me to either hyphenate the word (servant-hood) or add a space between the two words (servant hood).

Jesus never instructed his disciples on how to be the best leader, or the leader they want to be. Instead, at the last supper he sat them down and washed their feet, telling them to serve and submit to others as he did to them.

As much as we fight back against servanthood and submission we are still called to do so. The good news for you and I is that Jesus modeled this perfectly for us. Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus stepped out of heaven and emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant. Jesus’s faithfulness offers us salvation since we are not able to do so on our own. He also shows us the perfect example to follow in submission before God for us to model.

Maybe Jesus has called you to a position of leadership, but he has without a doubt called you to a position of submission and servanthood. Both to God and before others, we are to die to ourselves and put other’s needs before our own. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us “blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Not that they will conqueror or rule the world, but they will inherit it. The English language defines meek as spineless and weak, but the Hebrew word for meek is also translated as humble and poor.

So, follow the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Do not seek power and status, but servanthood, submission, and meekness.

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