I grew up in the traditional, organized church. I was always taught that the pastor was head of the church, and he had all the answers and so much more knowledge than anyone else in the church. I mention the pastor as a ‘he’ because when I was young and growing up in the church it was unheard of to have a woman pastor.
I remember scheduling meetings with the pastor so I could ask him questions and find out all the answers to Christian living. It almost floored me one time when I asked the pastor a question and he actually said he did not know the answer.
Looking back, I can see that I certainly looked to the pastor rather than looking to the Spirit. I was putting my hope in a man that I thought could tell me everything about God, yet I was not seeking to know God himself.
Next in line were the board of elders. Each of them were so much more holy than I or anyone else in the church or else they would not be in that position of authority. At least that is what I thought at the time. I have a friend who thinks prayers have more authority when she goes to the board of elders and has them pray.
Questioning Christian Leadership
The longer I was in the church, the more I began to wonder about things. Of course I did not dare ask the questions I had since people would be questioning my faith, or think I was questioning the pastor.
When I read that Christ was the head of His church, I wondered why the pastor seemed to get credit for that position.
I read that we should call no one father (or pastor) other than God, and I again wondered why people in position of leadership and authority in the church wanted to be called pastor or apostle or elder.
We are told that the Holy Spirit is our guide and teacher, and we do not need anyone other than him. Yet, we look to the pastor, or an elder, or some big name evangelist to find all the answers to our questions.
I began getting dissatisfied with having these questions and not letting them surface enough to come out and be asked. I began to realize I had more and more questions, and fewer and fewer answers.
I finally started coming across books and websites of people who seemed to be in the same boat. They were wondering and questioning and being open with their questions. Some of them seemed to actually come up with some answers that made sense to me.
The more I thought, questioned, and read, the more I began to realize that our traditional church system is really not what God intended for the church. I also realized that questioning is not a lack of faith. God can handle our questioning; in fact, most of the time Jesus taught more with questions than answers. He wanted people to question and reason over things.
True Christian Leadership
The true Church that Jesus is building is not a brick and mortar place. The head of the Church that Jesus is building is not a pastor, pope, elder, or apostle. In fact, the head is not a man or woman at all.
Leadership in the Church of Jesus is not what we have always thought of either. When we realize Christ is the head and leader of his Church, we begin to realize that man has no business demanding or expecting people to follow them and put them in the place of Christ.
True Christian leadership is not an office of authority. It is not a place for only a few who are specially trained at a man-made Bible school. True Christian leadership is for all of us who are members of the Church of Christ. We are all kings and priests; we are all holy and righteous because of Christ. To be clear, when I say Church of Christ, I’m not talking about any denomination or physical building. The true Church is a community of people who are following Christ, and He is our head. All the rest of us, men and women alike, are equally functioning body parts of his Church.
No person has a place of authority over another. That is the world’s way of doing things. That is the business way of doing things. Needless to say, there are a lot of churches and religious organizations that are acting like big business with their presidents and CEO’s, but that is not how it should be.
Christian Leadership as God intended is the Spirit working through the different body parts, leading by example. They are encouragers and teachers from a place of love and experience, not a place of authority and power. Each of us are leaders at one time or another in this sense of leading by example, experience, and love. We come in contact with those who need encouragement or a little guidance, not from someone who thinks they know it all, but from someone who has been there. A person who, out of love, wants to see the best for everyone.
True Christian leaders will not demand your loyalty. They will not want your allegiance to them. They will not rule over you with authority and expect you to follow them no matter what. True leaders will want to lead you to the head and true leader of the Church, Jesus. It is time we stop looking to men and women as our guides and leaders, and look to Jesus. We need to listen for the leading, guidance, and teaching of the Holy Spirit who is actually God within us, rather than seeking the knowledge and wisdom of mere men.
by Mike Donahoe