What is Bottom-to-Top leadership? Instead of Top to Bottom, it is the exact opposite of hierarchy. It looks like an inverted pyramid on paper. The Lord Jesus explained it well in Luke 24:
“Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”
Bottom to top leadership is sacrificial. It will cost you your very life. You don’t learn true bottom to top leadership in the seminary or from watching TBN but in the daily surrender to His will found at the foot of the cross.
Most leaders have forgotten the very purpose for why they exist today. I like what William Wallace said in the movie in Braveheart:
“You think the people of this country exist to provide you with land, titles, and position. I think your position exists to provide the people with freedom.”
I think the same could be said to most modern church pastors or priests today.
Why do Christians reject leadership?
Obviously, there are leaders in Ephesians 4:11 so the question should be, “What is the right definition of a Christian leader?”
I know it’s difficult, but we need to start with a clean slate. This will be difficult because we have years of traditions to overcome, and we are surrounded by worldly business and political examples that look nothing like the Kingdom of God.
It is so interesting that I would receive an email from Frank Viola today on this subject while I am writing this article. Frank Viola explains it best like this;
“With respect to God’s love and His value on us as His children, every believer is equal. We are equally loved by God, and we are equally valuable in His eyes.
However, the fact that there is no hierarchy in the family of God does not mean that everyone is equal in gifting and spiritual stature.
This is where many get it wrong. I’ll offer an example of how this plays out.
Amanda’s eyes have been opened to see that the New Testament doesn’t envision a hierarchy in the body of Christ. Amanda has a blog and she writes the following: “God is against hierarchy in His church. We are all equal. No one is above another. Everybody’s equal.”
Jim, a pastor of a large mega church, reads Amanda’s blog and responds saying, “People like Amanda are wrong. We aren’t all equal. Some have authority over others. The Bible is clear about this.”
I assert that they are both wrong. Amanda is right in saying that Scripture teaches against a hierarchical authority structure in the ekklesia. But she’s wrong in concluding that this means that every believer is equal in gifting and spiritual stature.
The New Testament is clear that there is no such equality. That’s why the biblical authors exhort God’s people to submit to those who are ahead of them in spiritual life. Not because they are part of some hierarchical pyramid and can “pull rank,” but because they have matured further in spiritual life.
Jim is wrong in that he conflates greater gifting and spiritual stature with a hierarchical chain of command”.
How do you know if you are a Bottom-to-Top Leader?
The more you are involved in the religious system, the farther the top is from the bottom. The more dependence that is given to the externals (titles & religious garb), the farther it is from the model of internal humility and surrender of the world’s best leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s leaders don’t need to dress to impress; they live in a fish bowl and their hearts are on open plate for all to see and taste that the Lord is good.
True bottom-to-top leaders are motivated by the love they have for their Lord and they are indebted to serve and love His people for Him.
The personal daily incarnation of Christ is the aim of every bottom to top leader on the earth today.
How do Bottom-to-Top Leaders Lead?
Bottom-to-top leaders are loving equippers. You can teach and train today without love, but you can’t really equip without love or caring for those you are leading. That is why the Kingdom definition of Pastor/Teacher is only one equipping gift, not two as many cite when they say five-fold gifting. There is no “and” in the Greek.
Dave Shirkey clarifies the distinctive differences between teaching, training, and equipping.
Three Learning Systems included in comprehensive Discipleship:
- Teaching increases knowledge Teaching focuses on content
2. Training increases skill Training focuses on the job
3. Equipping increases capacity Equipping focuses on the person
The churches are full of people with information, but they have never really been equipped because they have never really been loved.
How does the Lord make Bottom-to-Top Leaders?
The method the Father uses to make bottom-to-top leaders is found in the same crushing that His Son experienced at the garden of Gethsemane (the Olive Press). You won’t hear it taught but experiencing suffering in your own flesh produces the best examples of bottom-to-top leadership.
Do you really need a Masters in psychobabble (Psychology) to serve difficult people? No, of course not. You need love; broken, indebted, grateful, and thankful love because if it were not for the Lord’s mercy and grace, we ourselves would be in the same position. I know many are not going to like what I am going to say right now, but you can’t give what you don’t have. People are tired of words, even well-meaning words that come from the Bible. Much of our tribulation on earth is meant to give us experience so we may comfort others. Our Lord Jesus said in 2 Corinthians;
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
I told you that you wouldn’t like what I had to say, and I guarantee you won’t hear that preached on Sunday morning. Suffering as a topic doesn’t sell!
What is the Price of Bottom-to-Top Leadership?
True bottom-to-top leaders never have the option to quit! I can’t tell you how many times I heard the Holy Spirit telling me to make a call, but I didn’t want to make a call. The reasons are simple. The world says protect yourself. The seminary says dealing with these difficult people just brings you hurt and produces nothing. So we try to protect ourselves because it is what we were taught. They taught us how to set up boundaries and create distance between “us and them” to protect our hearts. What they never told us that the Father Himself would tear our walls down, and the needs of people would keep stampeding over our fences.
The Holy Spirit says minister to him, talk to him, take care of him in my name. You say, “No, I’m tired and he’s not listening!” Then Father reminds you of yourself and the years of patience Father has had with you. Guess what? You make the call!
I am on the journey to be a real bottom-to-top leader. I thank God for the process and I consider it a privilege to serve His people by leading them as He would on earth as it is in Heaven.
It’s my prayer today that you open your heart to what the Spirit is saying to His church and especially to His leaders.
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