THE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE OF GREATNESS
Matthew 20:27, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”
Matthew 23:21, “And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.”
Mark 10:42-45, “But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
“But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever of you will be great among you, shall be your minister.
“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The truth of this chapter will cure 95% of the marital problems by those who read it. This truth could stop 95% of the marriages headed to divorce court. I will tell you what could stop 50% of all the church problems that exist in America. Most of the problems we have between labor and management could be solved with this Bible truth in this chapter.
None of us have all of the answers, but we all have a Bible available to us that does have the answers. This truth is a truth, which could be revolutionary if practiced.
If you have any type of a position of leadership please take especial heed to this chapter. Our concept of leadership in this day and time in which we live is a perverted one in my opinion Take note of Mark 10:42-45. The word “Gentile” was used in context of being a heathen. The Jews used the word “Gentile” in the sense of meaning heathen. Uncle Sam to us means America. Gentiles to them meant heathen.
In Mark 10:42 God is saying that with heathen people the leaders are Lords. Heathen people have this hierarchy not Christian people. However in verse 45 God said, “…but so shall it not be among you. Whosoever be great among you shall be your minister.” Then in verse 45 God uses Jesus as an illustration.
Please allow me to address those of you who hold positions of leadership and all of us to one extent or another have some positions of leadership. I’m speaking to myself as well! I’m speaking to evangelists, missionaries, pastors, pastoral staff, administrators, college teachers, academy teachers, coaches, choir directors, parents, bus captains, Sunday school teachers, and Sunday school superintendents.
Unfortunately our interpretations of the above mentioned verses are erroneous. We interpret it like the servant is the greatest. An example would be when we say, “Whosoever serves is the greatest person.” However, that is not what these verses teach. This is teaching that the greatest is to serve. It is not saying that if you serve you become the greatest. It is saying that the greatest should serve the least.
Take into consideration verse 45 where the purpose of greatness is serving. The person who has the greatest title like that of the kings and rulers back in verse 42-43. He says the person who has the greatest title is supposed to serve those who have lesser titles!
Since the title pastor is the greatest in the local church the pastor is supposed to serve the members and not the members the pastor. God is speaking of those with the titles and positions that should be the servant.
The word mercy and grace always precede truth in the Scriptures meaning that the one with the greatest title should and must exhibit the most mercy and the most grace before executing truth. In so doing he is serving. The letter of the law kills.
This means that the teacher is supposed to be a servant of the pupils. The leader is to serve the follower! The administration is to serve the schools and the students! One is not great because he or she is a servant but one is a servant because he or she is great!
When we say, “He serves over there” that does not make him great! The Bible is saying that if you are the “Big Shot” you are supposed to serve. The heathen say that those who are under are supposed to serve those who are over them. That is heathenism according to God!
It is unfortunate that some preacher boys cannot wait to graduate so they can Lord over a local church somewhere. That is not why God gives the title pastor. God puts you in the ministry so as pastor you can serve those dear members. God is saying those of the lower positions serve the highest position among the Heathen. However, Jesus said the one in the higher position is supposed to serve the one in the lower position.
If God’s people could only get their arms around this truth it would revitalize marriages, homes, parenting, and job environments. Those of you who are dictating in the home, the school, the work place, and in churches are nothing more than little Hitler’s and your thousand-year reign will not last a thousand days! Some of you males that have Ephesians 5:25 tattooed on your forehead are exposing your spiritual ignorance.
I am the leader of my home and since I am the leader I am to serve! Swallow deep! You read it correctly! It does not say I am to have my wife serve me that would make her the greatest. I want to be the greatest! Thus, I must serve! God is saying, “Whosoever has the title if he serves he is the greatest.”
The word “father” happens to be the highest title in the home, because it comes from the name God the Father. Thus, the father in the house represents God the Father. If the father in the home serves his wife then and only then does he become the greatest! If that were true then one goes down to go up in God’s economy!
In our house I serve Mrs. Gray. Leadership is when one serves one so well that God gives you two to serve. Then you served 2 so well that God gives you 4 to serve and you serve 4 so well that God gives you 8 to serve.
The first church I pastored I served those people and loved those people by serving them. We had a 40 drive in crowd with 90 on the buses. This church grew until we were averaging 500. God then sent us to Texas not to lead but to serve. We averaged 400 to 500. After a split in March of 1981 our church to grew to averaging 2,041 in 2009 when I retired. I served those people and every pastor who desires the blessings of God must SERVE the people of God!
God gave us more to serve after we served the ones God gave us. Most young men of God want authority not service. God gives you and I opportunities to serve via a title. What most desire is a title of “Boss” but God only calls those with titles great when they serve. The job of leader is to serve the follower. In so doing mercy and grace are the hallmarks of such leaders which causes truth to be palatable.
LEADERSHIP WAS CREATED BY GOD TO SERVE
Our government was created by God to do three things: to protect our person, property and our freedom. The Police Department is there to protect my personal safety and my family by serving. The Fire Department is there to protect my person and my property by serving. Government was created to serve. Government was never meant to educate or create. When Government exceeds its purpose of serving it creates chaos in our society. The less interference by government the more the ingenuity and creativity of the individual citizen can benefit our nation.
When a pastor, pastoral staff, principal, or teacher begins to feel empowered by a title they have ceased to be able to serve. When a pastor has to remind the church he pastors that he is the pastor he is not the pastor. He may have the title but he does not have the anointing of God or of those who follow him. There are two anointings on a leader: one by God and the other by the people.
God may call a man to pastor a church and the people vote him down. God may call a man to pastor and he turns God down even though the people want him to be their pastor. A man who is called by God and the people call him also still may have a man who has forfeited his right to lead because he refuses to serve and demands to be served! If you have to tell them you are the pastor you are not the pastor. This is where a man usually turns into a tyrant and hurts rather than helps God's people.
LEADERSHIP COULD TURN INTO LORDSHIP
I as pastor would go to God on the people’s behalf and then to them on God’s behalf. If I were to reverse it then I would be exercising “lordship.” When I would preach a strong message on sin I was not attempting to be “Lord” over them and control them for I am simply trying to warn them about things that would wreck their lives according to God’s Word and not my word. A pastor is serving the people when he preaches against sin just as a policeman is serving by giving a speeding ticket.
A pastor who violates Scripture in order to get his way is not serving he is lording over God's people. Much damage has occurred to the cause of Christ because of transgressing Biblical guidelines in order for the pastor to accomplish something he wants. Lordship causes the local church to be involved in unscriptural action that displeases Jesus the head of the local church.
The pastor and staff prepare the materials for the church members so they can function as Sunday school teachers, bus drivers, bus captains, altar workers, name takers, baptistery workers, usher, choir member, soul winning clubs, Christian school, and maybe a Bible College, etc. When the bus driver shows up on Sunday morning the bus is ready to roll. The Sunday school classroom is ready on Sunday morning. The auditorium is clean and all is ready for a Sunday service. All of this is serving! The counseling, the preaching, the teaching, the administration, and the leadership are all serving the members! The goal is to reach higher ground in our service.
I believe the only reason some surrender to the ministry is to obtain a parking spot close to the building with their name on a parking sign! America is in trouble because of how we have perverted that which God created which entailed serving instead of being served.
Politicians who want to be President are the ones who should not be President of these United States. When followers push someone to the top it will always be because that person served well those whom he led!
LORDSHIP CAUSES DECAY
When those who hold titles fail to serve those they lead then decay begins from within. When the father of the home fails to serve and lives off of his title the home will begin to decay. When the pastor of a local church fails to serve and lives off of his title pastor that particular church will begin to decay. When the President of a nation fails to serve the nation he presides over and lives off of his title then decay begins in that nation. This is true of businesses or government at every level.
Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Jesus came to serve us and it would do us well to copy Jesus our Saviour in our relationships in life. I’m speaking to tyrannical husbands who treat their wives like they were your children, or a slave. The same is true of politicians, pastors, teachers, or parents who spend more time ranting and raving than teaching and training. If the pastor is strong arming to get his way he will ignore Biblical guidelines and is creating a false template for the church he leads. This is where the cancer and the decay begins from within.
Let me share with you an example. In the old Baptist denomination of which our family was apart they had what was called a State Missionary. He was hired by the State Association to start churches in the state. However, after a while he became the man who recommended pastors to those churches. Then after a while he would find himself checking up on those churches and their new pastor.
After a while he became a little “pope” who meddled in everybody’s business. In the Southern Baptist Convention these men are called District Missionaries and in some cases called District Superintendents. Before we know it we create titles that are not found in the Scriptures and then decay begins.
The same thing can be true of a pastor who goes beyond his calling and Biblical position to where he is flying solo. Just because one holds the title does not mean he is infallible in his decision making. That is why God said there is safety in a multitude of counselors. As long as he serves with a servant's heart he is tender toward those whom he serves. When he desires the best for those he serves he will be less likely to do harm.
The highest title is there to serve people and no one is great because you serve you are great because you use your title to serve! If you are the right type of a leader your wife will let you be the “boss.” If you are the right type of a parent your children will let you be the “boss.”
If you are the right type of pastor your people will let you be the “boss.” If you are the right type of a teacher the students will let you be the “boss.” If you are the right type of a bus captain your bus workers will let you be the “boss.” Only when there is a title with no or little service do you find a revolt!
Jesus said in the heathen world the big shot is the Lord over the follower, but in Jesus’ world the man who has the highest title is supposed to be servant of all. For 33 years I pastored. How did I serve during those 33 years?
· I averaged counseling 29 folks a week for 33 years
· I spent thousands of hours attempting to salvage marriages
· I spent thousands of hours attempting to salvage children
· I spent thousands of hours attempting to salvage businesses
· I spent 7 to 8 hours per sermon
· I spent 7 to 8 hours per Bible study
· I served by challenging God’s people
· I served by teaching God’s people
· I served by organizing God’s people to win souls
· I served by creating multiple ministries for God’s people to serve in
· I spent 20 hours a week praying
· I spent 15 hours a week winning souls to Christ
· I spent thousands of hours keeping the bills paid
· I spent thousands of hours helping staff to reach their potential so they could serve more effectively
· I served by teaching Wednesday Night Bible Studies.
· I served by teaching Sunday school
· I served by preaching Sunday mornings
· I served by preaching Sunday nights
· I served by keeping God’s people motivated to win souls
· I served by teaching God’s people how to serve God by serving man
· I served by writing books
· I served by walking guard around our ministries to make sure they stayed the same for our grandchildren.
· I served by paying our bills on time
· I served by overseeing everything
· I served by having departmental meetings
· I served by having staff meetings
· I served by providing places for God’s people to serve
· I served by providing ministries for the youth
In March of 1981, 400 plus people walked out on our church. The reason they left was because I refused to allow them to exercise “Lordship” over me to limit my service to them. The question was not whether I would be “boss” or not, it was would I be allowed to “serve” them or not.
Don’t forget the chain of command God to God’s man to God’s people. God serves us and God’s man serves God’s people. It is not God’s people to God’s man to God. Men of God who are successful in their ministries are successful because they served not because they are served.
The flow comes from top to bottom not bottom to top. The one with the title is great when he serves and not “Lord’s” over God’s people. If God’s people refuse to allow God’s man to serve then they will miss out on the blessings of God. The same is true for you businessmen, husbands, parents, teachers, and principals.
Jesus is saying if you are the kind that is “bossy” then you are like the heathen. The “boss man” ought to be the servant. The word “leader” is not mentioned one time in the New Testament. The word “servant” is mentioned in the singular 69 times in the New Testament.
You husbands who demand that your wife obey you I hope you die so she can find a real man to marry! It’s not the job of the husband to dictate. It is his job to serve those he loves so much that they wouldn’t want any one else to lead them. The leader who serves by establishing boundaries based on Bible principles and consistently serves within those boundaries will discover the blessings of serving.
Moses was never called a leader but he was called a “servant.” Paul was never called a leader but he was called a “servant.” James was never called a leader but he was called a “servant.” John, Joshua, Jonah, Abraham, Caleb, Hezekiah, Job, Isaiah, Jacob, Samuel, King David, and Jesus Himself were never called leaders but they were called a “servant.”
Those of you who have the titles are to serve those who have the lesser titles. The one who holds the title is only great if he or she serves and not because of the title. The greatest is not the servant but the one with the title who serves!