4. What is christian leadership?



Christian leadership and worldly leadership are intended to be very different ....Jesus emphasised this in his teaching

Matt 20:25-28
25 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.  26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave —   28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."    NKJV

The emphasis is on the way leadership is to be exercised....it is NOT to be authority.....but by EXAMPLE. If you want to LEAD, then get out there and start SERVING. There is to be NO 'lording it over' or even 'exercising authority over' others. 

Jesus Christ who himself is Lord SERVED and gave himself...this is THE EXAMPLE we are to follow.

To the so-called 'apostles' or 'senior pastors' who seek to exercise authority and or control over congregations....we should ALL ask .."What part of 'IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU' do you fail to understand?"...and ..."What slave would DARE to try and rule over those he is to serve contrary to Jesus example?" 

Despite this in many places christians are being told that "God requires you to submit to the pastor"...based on the following scripture 

Heb 13:17

17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.    NKJV

Studies of the actual Greek word translated as 'obey' shows that the accurate rendering of this word would be ‘allow yourself to be won over as a result of persuasion’….the persuasion coming in the form of their Godly servant leadership being demonstrated to you. Obedience is reserved for our relationship with God....and the governmental authorities he has appointed. The requirement to be submissive also confirms this intent and could more accurately be translated as ‘follow’ or ‘let yourself be guided by’ (refer to the extract from a detailed study at the end of this article)

To quote Heb 13:17 outside of the context of Jesus example and teaching above is deliberately misleading  (especially the parts about serving and washing feet...and ALL being brethren).

A great site which rebutts the false translation and interpretation of this verse in the bible is




The same issue raises its head in the following scripture

3 John 9-10

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the pre-eminence among them, does not receive us.    NKJV

Brethren, there can be NO 'first among equals'....where a 'pastor' is the 'lead elder'....unless we refering to one who is the greatest servant! The apostle Paul says that this was the position for apostles...ie LAST.

Pre-eminence is about one person wanting to be 'first' so that they can rule over and exercise authority over others... and this is what JESUS specifically FORBIDS! This was NOT the way the early church operated (eg Acts 15)

John 13:12-17

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?  13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.     NKJV

Leadership is not to exalt people...but to offer them a role in which to serve. IF they HUMBLE themselves to serve, then GOD in eternity will reward them. Those who seek money as a reward on earth, have their reward....on earth!


KJConner in his book "The church in the New Testament" makes this very candid admission ....

"It was quite an oustanding revelation to the author in his study ...to discover the following facts.....

*There is not one New Testament church of the 48 seen (in the scriptures) that had the traditional 'pastor' or one man over it

*There is not one person in the New Testament EVER called 'pastor' or addressed by that title in the church

*No-where can it be shown from the New Testament that a 'pastor' should be the head of the local church"

...and yet the church almost globally continues to practice and demand compliance to this ungodly structure ....as though they were 'God ordained'!


Matt 24:45-51

"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?  46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.  47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.  48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,'    49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,  50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,  51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.   NKJV

Brethren, church leadership is NOT about control....it is about GIVING...feeding the sheep!

Examine yourself!...the way you look after GOD's household is a great indicator of your eternal destiny! (according to this parable)


1 Cor 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.     NKJV


1 Cor 9:18
That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.

Paul called even the receiving of FOOD (which is an apostolic right)....an ABUSE of authority. What would he call demanding tithes  ..or being paid salaries to preach?


1 Peter 5:2-4

2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.    NKJV

Dishonest gain is when you teach that GOD says you should be paid a salary for teaching as a resident elder.

NO christian should submit to leadership which refuses to be held accountable to these scriptures!

Most Christians have no difficulty following a godly example from anyone who is a leader and demonstrates Jesus Christ’s walk and ministry. They will however reject ‘assumed authority’….and demands for control and/or submission. (these are key features of CULTS)


2 Cor 11:20-21
For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.    NKJV

We as believers are  NOT to 'put up with' those who seek to exert ILLEGITIMATE authority over us!


Jesus hammered into Peter what leadership was to be ....as the churches most 'senior apostle'

John 21:15-17

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?"

He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."

He said to him, "Feed My lambs."

16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"

He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."

He said to him, "Tend My sheep."

17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"

Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?"

And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."

Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep”       NKJV


The proof that you are a leader in the church is that you GIVE…..you feed …..you help....you serve. Leaders are called to GET UNDER people and support them....not to 'lord it over them'


2 Cor 12:14-15

Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children . 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.     NKJV


1 Tim 3:4-5
4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);    NKJV


Brethren christian leadership is NOT about control and authority over people ....ruling here is about TAKING CARE OF!

2 Cor 10:8
8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification    NKJV

Authority is for EDIFICATION of the church....not self exaltation


The greater the leader you are in the church ....the closer you rank TO THE BOTTOM 

 1 Cor 4:9-13
9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.     NKJV

The apostles practiced what Jesus taught as the way of leadership

2 Cor 1:24
24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy.....NKJV

Dominion belongs to God alone


1 Cor 16:12

12 Now concerning our brother Apollos , I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.NKJV

Paul did NOT command Apollos...he urged him...and Apollos was free to do as he believed God was leading him.


Peter also practiced this style of 'leadership'

1 Peter 5:1

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed     NKJV

He did not say...I COMMAND you....or I insist that you listen...BUT  ... 'I exhort you as a fellow elder'



Being called ‘rabbi’….ie pastor…prophet…apostle…etc…Titles are WRONG 


Matt 23:6-12

6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,  7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi , Rabbi .'  8 But you, do not be called 'Rabbi '; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.  9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.  11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.  12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.     NKJV


Every christians should refuse to give any minister a title such as    ‘apostle’… ‘prophet’… ‘pastor’… ‘teacher’…. ‘bishop’  etc.

This was demonstrated by Paul…..who called all ‘brothers’….and by Peter who addressed the leaders of other churches as… ‘fellow elders’. One may be an elder but no-one was called 'Elder Paul' or any such title.

Barnabus used only the title 'Brother Paul' in Act 9:17.....not apostle Paul as many today are demanding.

This practice in many places is no more than an individual seeking to exalt themselves above their BRETHREN!


Integrity in finacial matters is paramount

Luke 16:10-13
10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own? 

13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon ."      NKJV

Acts 20:33-35

33 I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by labouring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'    NKJV


2 Cor 8:18-21

18 And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, 19 and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, 20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us —  21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.      NKJV 


Titus 1:10-11

10 The Elders' Task

For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, (ie those who teach tithing, offerings, first-fruits, etc) 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.  NKJV


The church is COMMANDED not to associate with those who do not follow Paul's example of being self-funding whenever possible.


2 Thess 3:6-9

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.    NKJV


How are we in the ‘church’ to relate to each other


The main emphasis of teaching in the New Testament is that we ARE BRETHREN……ie brothers and sisters in Christ….and GOD is the FATHER of each of us. (This is referred to over 300 times)


There is NO distinction between ‘apostles’, ‘elders’ and the body which elevates anyone in STATUS above our brothers and sisters in Christ....'we are all brethren'.  


We are called to be accountable to each other. NO-one is above being accountable to the scriptures requirements.


Eph 5:21
21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.     NKJV

The different ministries are merely the areas where we can serve one another….and the ‘older’ brethren….or ‘elders’ helping each of the other younger brethren to grow up and sharing the role of training them...for the work we are ALL called to.


1 Peter 5:5

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for

"God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble."    NKJV

'pastors and elders and apostles'....ALL INCLUDES you...you TOO are to submit to the members of the Body


1 Cor 16:15-16

15 I urge you, brethren — you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints —  16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. 

Those we should submit to are those who DEVOTE themselves to serving us!...just as Jesus commanded them!


In this context read the following 'proof-text' again

Heb 13:17

17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.    NKJV

Let yourself be persuaded by the Godly example of those who SERVE you!....co-operate with them as the serve you.


This is not to deny genuine 'apostolic authority' which calls God's children to walk in accordance with the true gospel and in godliness according to the scriptures.....and not to be exploited!


2 Cor 2:9
9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.    NKJV

The context is obedience in all matters relating to a GODLY walk!


We are ALL God’s children…..the devils master….and each others servants!


Note that the church is not subject to ‘pastors’…or anointed 5-fold ministry!...but JESUS only!


Eph 5:22-33

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.


1 Cor 11:3

3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ      NKJV    

(Note the word EVERY...this includes new believers who are to be CARED for...not LORDED OVER)


Col 1:18

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.    NKJV 


Each believer has a DIRECT relationship and submission to Christ…not through a chain of command.  This scripture is overlooked by most domineering 'pastors'


John 10:27-28
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.    NKJV

Jesus does not say..."my under-shepherds hear for my sheep on their behalf"...or that they 'follow their pastors'


1 John 2:18-21

Little children,.......(this is NOT addressed to 'anointed and all knowing leaders')

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.   21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.    NKJV

Heb 8:11-12
11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.    NKJV

This brethren is the NEW covenant....the Spirit of God in each of us 'will 'lead you into ALL truth'  (John 16:13). When God's children hear TRUTH they know it....when preachers try to control them and deceive them they also KNOW it!

Note the word ALL again....and tied up with NONE.


'Lord, why will those pontificating these deceptions from pulpits not OBEY YOUR word?'


(Detailed study on Heb 13:17....author unknown)

The Greek word for “obey“ (in the preceding passage) is “peitho“ and it means “to be persuaded by argument, to judge whether true or false“!  Simply said, this does not mean “obey“ at all (not in the way most of us were taught in church world).  Rather it means that a person must be convinced by a true example.  Once they are convinced, they may choose to submit themselves willingly to that instruction.  This submission is not harshly ordered of them; they yield it willingly.  They are only expected to yield to something as they are persuaded of its truth by sound reason and trustworthy example.  As a matter of fact, every reference to “obey“ as it concerns believers within the community of believers, is this word “peitho“, which means to be persuaded by convincing (not to sub serve authorities).

It may surprise some that there is not one verse in the entire New Testament Scripture that instructs believers to “unquestioningly obey“ some kind of hierarchy of church officials.  The closest example of such a concept would be “obey“ as it is found in Titus 3:1 – which has nothing to do with church leaders (“Remind your people to submit to the government and its officers...“).  This Greek word for obey in this passage is not strictly “peitho“, though it may be derived from it.  It´s a different word, “peitharcheo¯“, which means “to submit to the authority of hierarchical rulers and superiors.“  Like “peitho“ it has in mind the idea of willing submission according to persuasion of truth.  The difference simply being the subject that kind of submission is given to – a ruler, a government.  Again, this word is NEVER used in connection with so-called church leaders (for “archeo“ is never used to describe servants of Christ).  There is no hierarchy in the Lord´s Church – save Christ Himself as our Head and Master.  Peitho belongs to Christian brothers and sisters… Peitharcheo belongs to earthly governments (so long as they do not require us to violate God´s commands).  Peitharcheo also belongs to God.  But it NEVER belongs to men!

Acts 5:29 (NKJV) - But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey (peitharcheo) God rather than men.

With the exception of our submitting to secular governmental authorities (in so far as they do not violate God´s will), the only one a believer must submit his absolute obedience to is GOD.  If the author of Hebrews had intended to instruct his hearers that they ought to “obey“ church leaders in terms of “following commands“, he might rather have used the Greek word “hupakouo¯“ – a completely different word, which means “to hearken unto a command.“  Hupakouo¯ is used in passages like Ephesians 6:1, which says, “Children obey your parents because you belong to the Lord for this is right.“  It´s also used in Colossians 3:22 concerning obedience to worldly employers.  But again, this kind of obedience is never expected in connection with those who serve as ministers of the Gospel – FOR THEY ARE NOT RULERS OVER THE BRETHREN – THEY ARE SERVANTS OF THE BRETHREN.  It is easy to understand why unquestioned obedience is never ordered of the saints in the New Testament when you consider the many false teachers that had infiltrated the community of believers (which both Jesus and His apostles continually warned about).  How would believers be able to judge righteously and even walk away from such men if they had been instructed to obey without question every so-called leader among them?

Now, as we said earlier, there is also no word in the Greek that represents our English KJV phrase “those that have the rule over you.“  Does this surprise you?  It did me too when I first realized this.  The actual Greek word is “he¯geomai“ and it simply means “to go before, to go on ahead, to lead.“  In other words, the author of Hebrews is instructing believers to be persuaded by those who have gone on ahead and set a godly example.  THAT´S IT!  )






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