In his book, The Myth of a Christian Nation, Gregory Boyd points out that the kingdoms of this world are built on power and control and that wherever a group of person exercises power over another, there the kingdom of the world is in operation.
[Caveat: He does not consider the exercise of power over others to be wrong at all times. Neither do I. But the danger exists for abuse.]
The kingdom of this world operates "from above," from a position of power and control over others. Jesus, in contrast, represents the kingdom of God, and operates "from below," in service.
Biblical leaders must be continually aware of the ways in which power can take hold in our ministries and lives. Do we look down on people? Do we press for "our way" in church services? Do we assume we know better than others? Do we teach and expect respect and obedience to us as leaders?
Or do we model a better way? a kingdom way?
Jesus repeatedly taught against power from above. In Mark 8-10, he corrected his disciples three times because they overreached for power and control. In one case, pride was in the way of true, genuine service (Mark 8:31-38). In another, they were arguing among themselves about which one had the highest degree of power with Jesus, who influenced him the most (Mark 9:30-37). On the third occasion, two of them bartered with Jesus for what they believed were the highest positions of honor with him; this later led to an argument among the disciples (Mark 10:35-45).
Jesus countered these power-grabs by reminding them that the path to greatness is a path that will never be understood that way by the world. It requires us to serve, to become last if we want to be first.
Biblical leaders will do well to continually remind ourselves to serve others, to operate "from below" them, rather than from above. True leadership follows first, and leads as others follow us in our imitation of Jesus.
What are your thoughts about this?