Jesus Christ declared that He was the way, the truth and the life. Any human concept that people can come up with, would be false. As long as not aligning with the only model, the way, the truth and the life.
Indeed, there are brilliant ideas of leadership in this world. But none of those ideas need consideration, as long as not in agreement with Jesus’ teachings. Today, nothing is as important as human leadership in Christianity. However, please see [False data stripping].
Here is the most fascinating observation; possibly to devastate most of those considered as Christians of good standing: In the vocabulary of Jesus—who declared being the way the truth and the life—there is no human leadership consideration.
True, anyone can refer to the leadership concepts in the teachings of Paul and other apostles. But, according to Jesus, even those renowned apostles are not the way, the truth and the life. Even though having been the pioneers of Christianity. Everything has got to align with Jesus’ word.
The early disciples were given a special instruction: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. A-men” (Matthew 28:19-20) (ESV).
When casually looking at this passage of Scripture, one can easily assume that those being instructed to teach all nations would be leaders. But that assumption is invalidated by the statement: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Verse 20).
It is, therefore, necessary to carefully observe whatsoever Jesus commanded, including leadership. Several Scriptures emphasize one thing: “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” At times Jesus used little children, to illustrate how humility ought to be appreciated (Matthew 18:1-4).
In this world the principle of leadership is understood in terms of master and servant. A leader is a master who deserves respect—given honour. And a servant is expected to submit and effectively serve his master, for normalcy to prevail—according to expectations. However, Jesus stated the reverse: “The greatest among you should be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).
Interestingly, most Christian leaders preach about servant leadership. The challenge is always on application. In our current civilization it is normal to give respect to leaders, who also graciously accept such honourable considerations. But Christ is aware of the motives of such leaders:
“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 honour 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….Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:5-11).
During Jesus’ time, those who washed their masters’ feet were servants or slaves, degraded and mostly despised by everyone. Lest anyone should be confused as to what was in Christ’s mind when talking about this type of servant-hood:
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:12-17) (ESV).
As Matthew 23:5-11, puts it quite clearly, in Christianity there is only one teacher and master. And that is Jesus, who, by washing His disciples’ feet, demonstrated the meaning of servant-hood. Note that those disciples did not wash Jesus’ feet.
In the spirit of submission, Peter attempted to reject the offer of Jesus to wash his feet. Apparently, Peter sought to conform to the common practice in this world—offering to wash Jesus’ feet, instead. But Jesus declared:
“If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:8).
Jesus was emphasizing a principle, expected to be the normal practice among His disciples. They would also be expected to teach others to apply the same principle in their Christian endeavours.
Notice that this does not imply that there would be people calling themselves leaders, being the ones expected to wash other people’s feet. Among those disciples there would be no-one graded higher than others.
The disciples were to wash one another’s feet, because there was no master among them. Instead, they were expected to view each other as brethren (Matthew 23:8). Practically, in that group there would be no masters or servants, but all of them would, actually, be masters and servants.
However, in their interaction with those, unconscious of the teachings of Jesus, such Christians would be servants. There is no question about the fact that Jesus was a servant of the people. He even carried the sinful burdens of humanity by dying on the cross. Christians are expected to do likewise:
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16) (ESV).
The truth remains to be that Jesus’ behaviour is viewed as un-achievable by human standards. But it is fallacious for anyone to declare being a Christian when unable to conform to the standards that qualify one into Christianity. God is not interested in pretenders (Matthew 22:1-14).
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:13-13) (ESV).
Why would a person fool him/herself of being in Christ when virtually not in Christ? Christianity is not about pleasing self, but pleasing God. And the only way to please God is to practice His commandments. One of such commandments is the principle of servant-hood. See [Jesus the servant and Christ the Lord].
Let me now qualify what I mean by declaring that among Christians all are masters and all are servants: The Holy Spirit, which qualifies a person to be a Christian is Jesus Christ, who declared: “….Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) (ESV).
Jesus Christ is as present as He was present in the first century. The only difference is that He now uses Christians, through the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, such Christians, either get adulated or despised, according to human evaluations.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8) (ESV).
As human beings we have got our own ways of looking at things, making us feel comfortable. But, for a prudent person, it is important to consider whether such views are in harmony with Christ’s teachings. See [Works bring the opposite of what is intended]
For instance, Christians use leadership channels—viewing that as being Church governance that God approves. But all that has got nothing to do with Christ. Implementation of leadership channels in Christianity cannot align with Jesus’ instructions.
The deposited Holy Spirit among each of those Christians represents Christ who would be doing His will, among them. Whatever Christ does through each of those Christians, cannot be dis-honourable, to the people who treat each other respectfully, in the spirit of servant-hood.
In that behaviour, those other Christians appreciate Christ’s work, through the one being used by Christ. The evaluation of such works cannot be according to consideration of the person’s background. This is just as Paul advised:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8) (ESV).
What Paul implies is that, among Christians, any virtuous act cannot be manifest, without being inspired by the Master—Jesus Christ. The person, through whom such good works are manifest is a servant.
That person cannot feel important or more superior to others, as a result of such achievements. He/she remains in the spirit of servant-hood—honouring others, who also produce according to their own spiritual abilities.
A true Christian commits him/herself to do virtuous acts, not for the purpose of receiving praises from other people. It would be Christ using him/her as an instrument. But that person would be leading in the area of his/her expertise.
This is just as others would also be leaders in areas of their expertise (Romans 12:3-11). Christ continues with the work that He initiated at the beginning of the first century, though using committed Christians, through the Holy Spirit.
Another instruction by Jesus is to: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1) (ESV).
What prevails in the current civilization is the opposite. Those promoted to positions of leadership are considered on the basis of results, through publicly manifested works. Practicing righteousness before others is actually encouraged, even in Christianity, deliberately ignoring what Jesus taught?
People are awarded with ranks, according to publicly manifested works—in clear violation of Jesus’ instructions. Yet Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. This is also notwithstanding what Jesus taught in Scriptures like John 13:12-17. See [Discordant reality, projected in the gospel].
Christ declared: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21) (ESV). Obviously, that person cannot be the same as the one awarded promotion in the current system.
True Christians are leaders in training. Their graduation will only come when Jesus establishes His Kingdom, at which time those Christians will be promoted to positions of authority: “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26) (ESV).
Take note of the phrase, “who keeps my works,” as indeed these are Christ’s works. Sadly, those practicing their own works, as to be seen by man—being dully promoted—have received their reward, (Matthew 6:1). In our human ways of looking at things, some people appear as closer to God than everyone else.
But this is where the words of Jesus are clearly violated. Though frightening when wondering whether such violators would be aware of what Christ warned against—as would take place at His second-coming:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).
However, I doubt that such Christian leaders would be completely unaware of such Scriptures? But it appears as if they,simply, have got their own ways of interpreting them—based on their evaluation of themselves against others.
In other words, Christ cannot be given glory on good works achieved, under those circumstances. Unashamedly, those Christian leaders take glory to themselves, according to the approval from those in their surroundings—thereby, expecting Christ to rubber–stamp such approvals?
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99