In the world, leaders are frequently put on a pedestal. They are looked up to, given preferential treatment. Others work to support their vision.
In the church, leaders are often put on a pedestal too. So-called apostles and prophets have business cards. They are highly visible on the rooftops. But according to the New Testament, apostles and prophets are foundations (Ephesians 2:20). You don't see foundations. They are essential for the stability and safety of the building, but foundations are trodden on. There's no glory in being a foundation.
Paul said this about apostles and prophets:
" Instead, I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike.
Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed. Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home. We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment." (1 Corinthians 4:9-13)
Who wants to be an apostle?
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11 replies on “Foundational leadership”
And yet, it is the apostles and prophets who most often spoke for God and who wrote most the Bible. So there is some element of “up-front” ministry, leading, teaching, and guiding people. Right?
People tend to not listen to the prophets and teachers of God, as Jesus often said re: the OT prophets. Barna has found that two hours after a sermon, something like 70 to 80 percent of listeners can’t even remember the topic let alone the key points. Our pastors/leaders today worship at the altar of the sermon, one of the weakest and most ineffective methods of communication. They spend the majority of their time preparing something that has very little impact.
This is a great post, Felicity. I think that the “leaders” of a lot of churches today forget this and attempt to lead from above rather than from beneath. Good reminder of the kind of leadership that Paul and the other early Christians had in mind.
Wonderful insight…and challenging.
One of the core things a real apostel is concerned about and involved in doing is preaching the gospel, planting churches…. The “fad apostels” want an overseeing position and being esteemed for it… Apostelship means means field work.. 🙂
Jeremy, right. I’m not saying there is no leadership. But the motive is to train others to do the work of the ministry, not to do it all themselves. And a truly servant heart, one who has no desire for limelight, one whose ego is laid at the foot of the cross is the only safe position to operate from. The question is, is a person a leader who serves, or a servant who has people who follow them?
Roland, you’re right. An apostle who doesn’t know what it is to be in the trenches may not be a true apostle. Having said that, Neil Cole has a great book coming out soon that I’ve had the privilege of reading about Paul’s journeys and his growth in leadership. When Paul started out on his missionary journeys, he did everything. Later on he trained others to do the work. His most fruitful time may easily have been his 2 years under house arrest in Rome!
Acts 1 (New Living Translation)
21 “So now we must choose another man to take Judas’s place. It must be someone who has been with us all the time that we were with the Lord Jesus —
22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us into heaven. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”
yep, i’m with you all the way on that one. good post, i like it.
thanks for the email re this. Yes, I agree with what you write. My problem this year browsing a number of Simple Church blogs is the continual focus on the topic of ‘leadership’…yes, it is mentioned a couple? of times in NT….but it seemed to me that even the Simple Church people were inadvertently slipping into the seduction of Nicolaitan thinking…the conversation and focus was on ‘leadership’. I think the focus of Paul was on New Creation. If we get hold of that we will see our world changed
Confusion reigns! My husband forwarded me an email today from an address we hardly use. It went into that address back in Feb!