I have begun a personal study of Jesus's words to the leadership of Israel found in Matthew 23. During his sermon, Jesus pronounced seven woes upon the leaders for their woeful leadership. I have assigned a page to each one of the woes in my journal where I am jotting down notes and insights to aid my own leadership development and thought I would share some of my thoughts with you. As you are aware, I believe there is a leadership crisis in the church (and in society for that matter) so anything we can do to contribute to leadership growth and improvement will go a long way toward addressing the crisis. Let's begin with the preamble to the woes:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matthew 23:1-12).
Rather than look at the negatives of what the leaders were not doing, let's see if we can determine what they should have been doing so we can adopt those behaviors and attitudes.
- Leaders must practice what they preach. We cannot take people where we are not willing to go ourselves, both externally and internally.
- Leaders must help people carry their burdens while being careful not to add to what the Lord has placed on each person.
- Leaders must do things not to be seen but to make a difference in the lives of others, doing it for the Lord who will reward.
- Leaders should do all they can to blend in with the people and not set themselves apart in where they sit, what they wear, or how they are treated and addressed.
- Leaders, whether in church or business, are simply members or employees who have a leadership role. This does not make them special or warrant favored treatment. Seeking after titles or allowing people to assign those titles is strictly forbidden.
- Humility is the hallmark of a godly leader and that is expressed by service, not by prestige and displays of power or position.
There is much more in those verses and I'm sure you will read them and say in your mind, "Amen!" Yet the practice of amour-bearers, special seating, titles, and lack of service continue to plague the church despite Jesus' teachings and warning. I urge you to examine your own heart where these issues are concerned and not be ready to judge others until you have dealt with these matters in your own life. Don't assume you are a servant or even know how to do serve? Don't criticize others who do things to be noticed until you stop doing so yourself or at least are no longer offended when you are not recognized for your service and good deeds.
I invite you to post your own comments as to what you see in these verses and then follow along in subsequent entries as we examine the woes Jesus described that apply as much to us today as they did to Pharisees in Jesus' day.