The Pentecostal idolizes tongues and healing and the evangelicals condemn them. The evangelical idolizes leadership and receives praise. I grow tired of the arduous leadership propaganda of our low church. Could it be that when our Lord told his apostles to be lowly servants he meant what he said? How is it that the church has constructed an inversion of Christ’s message? He did not tell his apostles to lead, but to serve in love.
I do not intend to say leadership falls contrary to biblical teaching in the least, but only that God gives it as a spiritual gift to a select few believers. It seems odd that we then tell everyone that they are leaders. God gives this gift for the benefit of the body, and yet we all aim to be a head. There is little difference between the Pentecostal clamoring to speak in tongues and the evangelical’s leadership conferences and intensive development courses.
An even greater danger may be the consequential equivocation between spiritual maturity and leadership. When the Church, or biblical institutions measure spiritual maturity by leadership ability it directly contradicts the evangelical unity they so emphatically enamor. It idolizes one part of the body over the others and by so doing discourages the other parts. For the same reasons those who do not speak in tongues leave the Pentecostal church, so too do those who lack leadership leave the evangelical church.
It drains the servant to pursue leadership. Of course good leadership occurs through service, but not all service occurs through leadership. It seems odd then, to forsake the clear imperative for the sake of the specific gift. When our idolization of specific gifts defines the lines of our denominations, then our churches will cease to operate as bodies and begin to operate as homogeneous cliques. Those who then do not fit the idolized gifts of their specific church will struggle to find a place in the body, and more dangerously, possibly question the validity of their faith due to their lack of gifting.
I suggest instead the church ought to measure spiritual growth by fruits of the one who grows believers. If we are going to attempt to judge spiritual maturity by outward fruit we might as well use the fruit of the spirit. God gave us an objective to aim for concerning spiritual maturity: First love; not leadership. God did give the Church a clear set of universal spiritual virtues, and a set of specific spiritual gifts. Therefore, it seems right to judge by the universal virtues, not by specific gifts. The fruit of the spirit occur consistently throughout the new testament, while spiritual gifts occur rarely, and never as universal imperatives.
Lastly, I consider it odd to consider a gift of pure grace as the qualifier of spiritual maturity. God gives spiritual gifts out of grace alone, and yet, Christians boast in their leadership as if it were of their own power. It would be ludicrous for a man to boast in his business acumen if all of his wealth came from an inheritance. It is equally absurd for man to boast in his spirituality because the Lord had given him a gracious gift. In this moment we pretend we are creator, not creation. We boast in our works, though each breath depends on grace.
I of course, do not intend to discourage the pursuit of leadership, but rather, pursue leadership in proportion to the other gifts. Pursue the greater gifts, but first pursue love. Pursue humility, pursue service, and sacrifice, and faith, and love. In the end it is not a matter of discussion and deep thought, but of common sense. Our Lord says to serve and love; we out not then, pursue anything else before these.
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