May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV)

After walking with the Lord for over thirty years, I’ve heard a lot about submission, honoring of leaders, and “not touching the Lord’s anointed.” Though I have a high esteem for the leaders in my life, and have a high personal value of honor, I’ve been concerned more than once at the perversion of these ideas. Furthermore, I am a leader in the Body of Christ, and fear that I would step near the limelight of God’s glory, so I thought I’d share some things I’ve been chewing on lately.

I think a lot of the egotism can stem from two misconceptions. First, it’s a failure to understand God’s grace. When someone understands grace, they do not exalt themselves or put themselves on a pedestal. That’s Pharisaic! Grace understands that, “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low…” (Isaiah 40:4, NASB). In other words, the lowly and broken shall be raised up to confidence through grace, and the lofty and self-righteous shall be brought low, until we’re all on the same playing field before God. Yes, we have leadership that is worthy of honor and that can help us, but that leadership should never become a priest to you, where your access to God is dependent upon them. We are all priests through Christ (1 Peter 2:9). We all have access to the Father!

The second reason leaders become egotistical is that we cease to remember that we’re still sheep. According to the verse that begins this blog, Jesus is “the great Shepherd of the sheep.” Yes, leaders are “shepherds” of God’s people, but we are also sheep! The leader who fails to understand that he is still a sheep just like any other believer welcomes the toxic stuff of ego and self-righteousness. I was reading a C.J. Mahaney book not long ago, and he wrote something like, “How can I be proud when I stand next to the cross?”

Good question.

In 3rd John, John mentions a self-centered, egotistical ruler named Diotrephes, saying, “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church” (3 John 9-10, NIV).

I’ve met more than one leader like that. Beware of Diotrephes. He fails to see his own faults, fails to remember that he is just a sheep like the others, is threatened by strong believers, and wants his followers to listen to no one else but him. Yuck. Doesn’t sound anything like the One who “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7, NIV).

The thing is, if we fail to see that we are still sheep, anyone of us is capable of this kind of attitude. This spirit can invade us as parents, as coaches or captains, as employers, as RA’s, as doctors, as presidents and kings, etc. Let’s keep our eyes on the Chief Shepherd, imitating His humility, always remembering that no matter how great our position or power, we are still just sheep.

Don’t miss Derek’s weekly audio podcast! You can listen by simply clicking the link in the audio blog titled “Perfect Love” that precedes this written blog.

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