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Servant Leaders

Pastors and church leaders are called to lives of humble service. “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example” (1 Peter 5:2, 3, NLT). The New King James Version reads, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

Notice, servant leaders do not lead by “constraint,” or “lording it over” (authoritarianism), and they are not influenced by “money.” Sometimes wealthy people in the church try to use their money to force their pet projects or beliefs. They do this by threatening to withhold large gifts if their ideas or agenda items aren’t implemented. This can happen in local church settings, and it can happen in top tier church organizations. Unfortunately some believe the Golden Rule is, “Whoever has the gold, makes the rules!”

What should a church do? As church leaders, if we know this is happening, we have a responsibility to confront it—with kindness and grace. It may mean visiting with the person in question, talking with your pastor, or dialoguing with a church administrator. As far as possible, Matthew 18 should be followed, without doing or saying anything publicly to smear another person’s name. It is possible that things are not actually as they appear, and we should be careful not to jump to conclusions.

Be gracious and kind. Treat others as you wish to be treated, and pray for God’s intervention.

There is much that goes on in the world that flys under the radar—inappropriate relationships, financial arrangements, emotional and physical abuse, and more. I have seen all of this and more happen in the church—among people who appear to be squeaky clean and upright. Love them anyway.

If you are in a leadership position, do what you can to remedy the problem.

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever…Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:10-11,8, NLT).

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference

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