As you know this blog sometimes challenges people, exactly what was intended. Today this blog challenges leadership in particular those who say they want to lead but do they? Some people just want a title and there is a way to spot them, a way to unclothe the hidden serpent.
The most important form of accountability is the accountability of leaders to those they are leading. It seems some elected leaders are placing the emphasis on followers to “submit”. In some ways this could be considered terrorism, you don’t do what I like, you don’t write what I want to read, you don’t say what I want you to say then we will ambush you. Another word would be we dictate to you (dictatorship). The lesson of human history and the Bible is the first and greatest priority is for the leaders to submit to the followers by seeing themselves as servants who are accountable to them.
We see this in world history, where we learn power has a tendency to corrupt people (Napoleon, Hitler) and therefore must be limited and kept accountable. For example, the basic premises behind the structure of the United States, learning from previous governments of history, is even more important than getting the right people into power is having mechanisms of accountability for those in power, regardless of who they may be. The reason is that even good people are often corrupted when they get into power. The temptation to please others and fall into group thinking are great. Hence, the integrity of formal authority needs to be based not only in the character of the individuals, but also a system of checks and balances which checks and limits the authority. In most 501c companies this is Roberts Rules.
This is also true in church and is seen in the Scriptures. The chief opponents to the prophets in the Old Testament and Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament were not the people, but the leaders. God holds people accountable for whether they go along with over-reaching leadership or stand up to it. For example, in Jeremiah 24:10-11 we read: “Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it a desolation; desolate, it mourns to me. The whole land is made desolate, but no man lays it to heart.” Note that it is the shepherds — the leaders — in this passage who destroyed God’s flock, and God laments the fact that no one (that is, not even the non-leaders) lay it to heart and thus do something about it. In the New Testament, we see leadership often abusing their authority. The Pharisees, for example, claimed it was contrary for the disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8) and for Jesus to heal a man on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9-14) and, of course, they ultimately used their authority to crucify Jesus.
It is certainly important for individuals to keep themselves accountable, but let’s not forget leadership also needs to keep itself accountable. Let’s make sure we don’t fall into a one-way notion where we forget accountability equally (in fact, more fully) applies to leadership. To view the accountability of individuals to leadership as the key solution to individual self-deception is simply to set ourselves up to repeat the mistakes of the middle ages and corrupt governments, by handing over more authority to leadership than is designed.
Let me be clear I am not against authority, and submission to authority, rather, I am saying two things. First, true submission to authority recognizes authority itself needs to acknowledge its accountability. It needs to acknowledge this not just in the sense that it will be accountable to Christ at the last judgment, which can be easily abused, but in the sense they are also accountable here and now to the people they lead. This creates an accountability loop that affirms the dignity and equality of the followers and tends to check corruption.
Second, I am saying that authority is best exercised when it recognizes its limits. In the church, the limits pertain chiefly to primary doctrines — not secondary doctrines. That is, it is not over-reaching to seek to hold someone accountable for rejecting a primary doctrine of the faith, such as the Trinity or justification by faith alone. But when authority seeks to “keep people accountable” in relation to secondary issues, they very often by definition step outside of the realm of their legitimate authority and wreak havoc. This brings people into bondage and hinders the advance of the gospel and the joy people are to have in their salvation.
In the racing world this can be found when people in a leadership role rearrange their priorities to attack someone who has been given a right by the United States government. Who want to dictate what a person says and what a person may write and what a person may say. People who should be leading are instead abusing their power, manipulating people, blaming others and simply causing harm. Leaders are not somehow better or more important to God than those they lead. The people they are leading are incredibly competent and amazing in their own right.
Leadership that does not acknowledge this at its very heart and does not lead in such a way that centers on affirming and building up the dignity and competence of the individual is not true biblical leadership. This kind of leadership is a jealous leadership, instead of leading these type people are after a title. They lead by doing anything and everything to protect their title. They hide behind other stronger people. They are so afraid someone may take their title they have minions do their bidding. If they have issues with someone they do not confront it head on they sneak around, hide like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, surround themselves with yes people, and spend so much time in title protection mode they forget to lead and instead only react.
The proper use of authority is a beautiful thing. A truly wonderful, beautiful thing. Common grace and the Scriptures teach us that the chief and proper use of authority is to defend people’s freedom. That’s how Jesus used it (Matthew 12:1-21; Galatians 5:1) and how Paul used it (Galatians 2:4-5; 5:13). Let’s get back to emphasizing this important truth. Let’s hold our leaders accountable!