Understanding Servant Leadership

Understanding Servant Leadership
Robert Wurtz II

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: (Mark 2:27)

The religious leaders in the time of Christ were a manifestation of the old saying, “no good deed shall go unpunished.” It has been pointed out that what really angered them was that Jesus didn’t get permission from them to heal the man. That’s right: they wanted to be in control. They didn’t want to be controlled by anyone else, but they wanted to control others. Think of the implications of that. 


We need to ask; should Jesus have to get permission to do good? Should anyone have to get permission to do good? Not in the kingdom of God; but certainly in the world that the religious leaders had built for themselves. They were at the top and everyone else were under them. These “religious” leaders were contrary to all men. Notice they were religious leaders and not spiritual leaders. Jesus said they strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. (Matthew 23:34) Why would anyone get in the way of what God is wanting to do just to make sure their name or position is honored? This is pride run amok. In an age where sermon after sermon and book after book is written on submission and rebellion; we need to pause and reflect on true servant leadership





Understand that the religious leaders didn’t care about peoples’ needs or God’s will; they only cared about control. We might say that they were “controlling” or had a “controlling spirit.” As today, so then, people who refused their control were labeled rebels. Yet the religious leaders’ hypocrisy gave rise to a profound truth that we might not otherwise have known; The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. Mark alone has this profound saying which subordinates the sabbath to man’s real welfare (A.T. Robertson). That is to say, God delivered the sabbath to man — not man to the sabbath. Yet these leaders were trying to subject man to the precept of sabbath keeping — in a way that God never intended — so they could lord over the people. So long as they were moving in the idea that man was made for the Sabbath they could continue their scheme.

Legislating Authority

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)


What does this mean? The Devil wanted to ascend into Heaven and be like the Most High God. This self-centered, self-promotion and exaltation is key to understanding the nature of Satan. He wants to rule. His children want to rule as well. Keep this clear. Jesus Christ humbled Himself into a servant and His children do likewise. Yet the religious leaders sought to utilize man-made rules under the guise of Divine law to enforce their own authority. They wanted to be reverenced. They desired honor that belongs to God alone. 


In 70 AD when the Temple was destroyed the Pharisees (religious leaders) fled to Jamnia (Yavneh) and started Rabbinical Judaism. This religion took the authority completely out of God’s hands and placed it squarely with the Rabbis. This forces man to come to the Rabbi in order to have contact with God. The Catholics did a similar things by placing a priest between man and Christ. The Protestant Reformation cleared this up to a large degree, but the enemy still seeks to establish a power structure that places the authority in the hands of men and not God. 


The Shepherding movement is another example of an “in between” person who stands between the saint and God. This scheme was designed to control the saints and robbed them of any real knowledge of being led by the Holy Spirit. Rather than submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21 KJV) in terms of worship meetings (singing, songs, etc.), men used this verse to assume and usurp authority over other peoples’ spiritual lives. Modern versions of this heresy involve having “mentors” and “spiritual fathers” who submit to one another in a kind of hierarchy. Those who refuse this pattern are often labeled as rebellious or some other slanderous adjective. What needs to be asked is not why do people refuse to submit, but why would anyone want others to submit to them? Why do these leaders want others to be dependent on them? Are they seeking to justify their own existence as ministers? This is not servant leadership.  



Ignoring Jesus


But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. (Matthew 20:25, 26)



I have been in management in the secular world for over 20 years (I speak as a fool). I say to one “go” and he goes; and to another “come” and they come (as it were). This is because the job is secular and the power structures are set up like a pyramid. But Jesus said that the churches are not to be set up this way. He could have put a megaphone into the ears of the religious leaders of then (and many of today) and blasted Matthew 20:25-26 into their ears and they would still try to set the Kingdom of God up like a hierarchy. Any time a so-called leader wants to establish authority in a way that interferes with the saint’s leading of God that “leader” is not a servant leader. Why? Because this is anything but servant leadership. Christians are to be led by the Holy Spirit; and if they are led by the Spirit there will be decency and order. Anything else is an ox drawn cart. 


It reminds me of Matthew 12:9, And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue. Notice that it was not His Kingdom or His synagogue, but theirs. This is what you get when you ignore Matthew 20:25, 26; you get your very own, bona fide, do-it-yourself church. It’s yours! All yours! A.T. Robertson said it this way, “Christianity has had to fight this same battle about institutionalism. The church itself is for man, not man for the church.” This is a statement well worth pondering. If the West suffers a wholesale persecution of it’s churches so that they go underground I must suggest that God allowed it to regain control of the saints from the usurpers who have held many hostage for years. I have known of preachers to forbid their people to go and help other churches because it “wouldn’t look good” or it might “send the wrong message.” Indeed there are so-called preachers among us that seem almost reincarnations of the religious leaders in the time of Christ. 


Church an Institution?


An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperationgoverning the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior. (Wiki)


The churches of God are not businesses and are not to be ran like a business. Period. Full stop. The churches of God are not the military. How much plainer can it be? “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you.” I suggest that many Christian leaders today need to be taken to a chalk board and made to write this sentence about 500 times:

it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you
it shall not be so among you      it shall not be so among you

Pushing Their Weight Around


The Greek historian Plutarch once said, “There is no stronger test of a man’s character than power and authority.” The Pharisees wanted to Lord over the people. This is why they had so many “protocols” and “rules”. The rules gave teeth to their desire to boss people around. Simply put, they wanted to control. This is what feeds the flesh as much as anything. Carnal men get a thrill off of being able to tell others what to do — even if it means being able to block a healing on the Sabbath. With each “fence” they added to the Torah there was a feather in their cap to match it. They viewed themselves as being in authority over the people and eventually placed themselves over God Almighty. This is what the Rabbi’s have done, but this has no place in the Kingdom of God — not yesterday, not today and not ever.


Secular Abuses of Power    


During the 1930s a controversy came up in the United States as a consequence of the Supreme Court blocking some of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal economic policies. He became so angry that he proposed to congress that they empower him to appoint additional Supreme Court Justices in order to outnumber the opposition. He was willing to do whatever it took to get his way. Upon reflecting on this situation fellow Democratic Rep. Samuel B. Pettengill of Indiana retorted, “A packed jury, a packed court and a stuffed ballot box are all on the same moral plane. This is more power than a good man should want or a bad man should have.” Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. (Matthew 20:2526)


Modern Day Rabbi’s?


If you want to know who the devil is about to use — wait for a power vacuum to develop and see who rushes to fill it. Many modern leaders in the churches of God have no idea they are moving in a philosophy started by the Pharisees that started Rabbinic Judaism around 70AD. They essentially believe God has given them authority in all spiritual matters. Yet what did Jesus say?


“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” (Luke 11:52 NKJV)


These people were willing to damn the souls of men in order to be in charge. This is a flat charge of obscurantism on the part of these scribes (lawyers), the teachers (rabbis) of the people. They themselves refused to go into the house of knowledge and learn. They then locked the door and hid the key to the house of knowledge and hindered (ekōlusate, effective aorist active) those who were trying to enter (tous eiserchomenous, present participle, cognitive action). It is the most pitiful picture imaginable of blind ecclesiastics trying to keep others as blind as they were, blind leaders of the blind, both falling into the pit. (A.T. Robertson) 

They did not want people to surrender to the authority of Jesus Christ — they wanted them surrendered to them. They used a sleight-of-hand to make the people think they were obeying God by obeying their laws and precepts, but in fact they were obeying the lawyers and religious leader; why? Because they commanded when and where God had not commanded. They were speaking for God — putting words in His mouth. Obeying God is obeying God’s word; it is not obeying another man that is usurping God’s authority. This is what the religious leaders did with the Sabbath day precept. They twisted it so as to give the false impression that Jesus needed to come under the authority of their interpretation. How staggering it is to think of what lengths men and women will go to to subordinate people, even God underneath of them. It is Satan’s nature and it is the children of Satan that do such things.


Servant Leadership


But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:25–28 NKJV)


You will recognize a genuine, God-sent, Spirit-filled, trustworthy leader by their desire to help you cultivate the ability to be led by the Holy Spirit without their assistance. Any leader worth their salt will lead you through the scriptures so as to cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They will not disciple you to themselves; they will disciple you to Jesus Christ. They will not seek what’s yours — they will seek to give to you of theirs. Have we not read that Paul warned the Ephesians that grievous wolves were coming to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:30) 


A servant leader makes himself of no reputation and humbles himself as a servant. He does not behave as royalty to be served as a royal figure — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. This is not lip service. This is the real thing. Jesus added to this, Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:9–12 NKJV) God wants to be our Father and Christ wants to be our teacher. Genuine servant leaders cultivate and encourage this reality and rejoices when it is worked out. Their attitude is that of John the Baptist, “I must decrease and Christ must increase.” 







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