Have you ever heard of a conference of “The Least?’
I am sure all of you have heard of “Leadership Conferences’ of all types. Those in the religious and church world hear it all the time.
Over and over in church we hear calls for leadership meetings. Some denominations are for sure good about this. Take the average church, about two thirds of the regular people attending are in some sort of ‘leadership’ role. I can think of one Sunday School class where almost all who are regular attendees are in some form of class leadership.
I tell you, from pastors to the churches to all forms of religious organizations and missions the term ‘leadership’ is used as one of the most popular words in their vocabulary. Words from prophets seem to always be calling people to some leadership role in one form or another: leaders of the church, leaders of the denomination, spiritual leaders, etc.
I could not find the word Leadership or Leader in the entire New Testament!
The term ‘leaders’ was used by Jesus when He said:
“Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”
And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him,
And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together,
Each time the term was used it was in reference to leaders in a derogatory way.
How then could we have this as a term for millions of religious leaders? Just ponder this.
Now, just bear with me, as we look at this subject.
Are there any Biblical terms that we could use to describe the same people? Or is there a different view of what it means to be a leader?
Where is the emphasis? On leadership of course!
Now what terms did Jesus use? The term followers or servants or those that believe in Him were the most commonly used words. In the early church they used terms like the church, pastors, evangelists, etc.
Here is how Jesus spoke of His view of leadership.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said; “you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whoever desires to be great among you let him be your servant
And whoever will be first among you, let him be your servant:
Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many.’
But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.
“And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’
“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.
“For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
This is truly radical!
A few months ago I called a church in California to speak to the pastor. The lady answering the phone said her name and then said, “How may I serve you’? I was shocked. Then as I was transferred to the pastor’s secretary she answered in the same way giving her name and then saying, “How may I serve you?’ I was so touched with this servant attitude. I told them they were the only church I have ever heard using such a term. Sure keeps the focus on what Jesus wants us to be.
We are to be servants and called a slave of all!
Now to the Least!
Who wants to be the least? And who wants to serve the least?
The (Great Leader) of the early church was Paul. Here is how he viewed himself:
“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
I Corinthians 15:9,11 in the Holy Bible)
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
(Ephesians 3:8 in the Holy Bible)
Please read the following words that Jesus spoke:
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
‘For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
‘When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’
“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:34-46 in the Holy Bible)
In this passage Jesus is showing that how we “serve’ the “Least’ is the way we serve Him! These are profound words!
As we serve the hungry, the sick, the thirsty, the naked and those in prison we serve Him. Jesus also in another place said He came to seek and to save those who are lost. He also commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person. As we go and serve Jesus and proclaim the message of the Gospel of Jesus we are serving Him and others. Even as we make disciples of Jesus and are part of His Church we are to focus on service.
Should you serve the least, what does that make you. The least of the least! Glory. This seems to be a true mark of a follower of Jesus.
In this column I am simply trying to get you to think and ponder the focus of how we follow Jesus. Now I know the common use of the word leadership. I am just seeking to probe the mind and ask you to check your spirit. I am encouraging ‘leaders’ to consider the terms and check the motive.
Do you really want to be a ‘Leader’ or ‘Least of the Servant Slaves’?
Our desires reflect the heart.
Should that be a problem then check your heart and see just what kind of leader you are.
David said in the Psalms “Search me oh God and know my heart, and see if there is any wicked way in me.’
I ask you and I ask myself,Â “Is there anything in me that does not look like Jesus’. I can only cry out as I see my flawed self. “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner!’ “Change my heart oh Lord! Make me like Jesus! Fill me with Your love that I may love and serve others like You.’
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt
P. S. Trust you are smiling and enjoyed this. Just want to shake us all up a bit and let Jesus get into our minds past the traditional use of terms and get us thinking fresh and humbly and in a servant attitude. God bless you all. However don’t discount the horror of the warning Jesus gave in the passage above about not caring for the least.