John’s Comments: Hierarchy in Christian Culture was a topic I wanted to write about from day one. I have a strong belief that there is a misrepresentation of godly leadership in Christian Culture. There is a lure to false power which I wanted to explore.As it turned out “Christian Hierarchy” was a very popular search term which has kept this article in the top 10 all year.
#4: Hierarchy in Christian Culture – Published on June 2nd by John Meloche
Modern culture is full of hierarchy. If you work for a business of any kind there will most likely be chain of command. You may be the top dog or you might find yourself at the bottom as the proverbial pee-on. Regardless if this comes in a well prepared document posted on the wall or its just understood, most likely the hierarchy exists. The closer one gets to the top, the more respect expected, power awarded and authority given.
I want to explore some concepts of modern culture, compare them to Christian culture and see what place these concepts have. Most Christian organizations have some level of a business structure and would have a culture of business to ensure the organization runs efficiently. When you are running a non profit organization you need a strong level of accountability. Having a functioning business culture to ensure this accountability is necessary. So within the business structure there very well might be a level of hierarchy.
I am wondering however how many churches or Christian groups function with visible spiritual hierarchy. To run anything with excellence you need strong leadership, in business or spiritual matters. Spiritual leaders help people to focus on their vision, mature spiritually, and nurture the presence of God in their lives. Leaders are of course not limited to these few things. Every church needs a lot of leaders. Having one or two will not do the trick, you need leaders in all areas and functions of ministry to help facilitate vision and help carry the load. Similar to the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” you need a lot of leaders to raise up your members. Most organizations have one or two leaders who head the overall vision. This would most commonly be a senior pastor or leadership team. They are responsible for guiding the vision and empowering their leaders. These would be the top candidates for hierarchy.
I am going to right out say it; I disagree with Hierarchy in Christian Culture. Let me explain why. In business as I mentioned this is a practical function to demonstrate leadership. It makes it decision making easier. It allows for great phrases like, “Chain of Command.” It allows people to threaten escalating issues, bringing on fear and moving issues faster towards agreement or compromise. It allows someone to call your boss instead of dealing with you. Now is it necessary in Christian Culture? Call me crazy but I say no. There needs to be spiritual authority but hierarchy is not the answer in this case. A hierarchy is a way of expressing position, as in I am above you and you are below me. It allows you to know where you are on the chart of position. This is an unnecessary function in a healthy Christian culture.
God created us all equal. We are all of equal value and worth to him. While some may be operating in positions of leadership and representing Godly authority, it does not make them of greater value in God’s eyes. We as people thrive on power and position. God however is not driven by our works or leadership abilities. This is the amazing thing about God, regardless of how we respond or behave he still loves us the same.
As mentioned we need leaders and God gives us authority to lead. However I believe hierarchy is misrepresentation of Gods intent of leadership. I do not believe the intent of spiritual leaders is to be rulers but rather mentors and guides. A leader should be raising people up, but not from a position of subordination. The authority leaders have comes from God, this authority is a representation of God and his authority.
My main objection is that we as people are too focused on the person rather than God. As in we look to the words of the leader instead of God himself. Since people are always in need of direction it is easiest to seek out a wise leader and follow their ‘godly’ advice rather than actually seek God. A wise leader will point you to God and allow Him to speak. Often we just need some guidance or some clarification. God has these answers we just have to ask and often leaders are there to help us remember this.
Before you send me hate mail or tweets I am not suggesting there is no need for spiritual leaders, pastors or leaders. What I am saying is that we do need them but we are not subjects with inferior access to God. They very well have incredible wisdom, understanding and give guidance but it should never be from a position of subjectivity. We need to stop worshiping leaders because while they might be wise or just amazing, their wisdom is from God. Its not the person that is so amazing its God in them that is amazing. Sorry if that breaks some precious bubble of yours but I just believe we really miss the mark when it comes to our view of leaders.
Don’t ever feel inferior or less important than the big name preacher, we all have a place in the body. His might be the mouth but being the hand is just as important.
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