Why do we love titles? Think about it. People seem to love titles – Christians especially. There are churches today where practically everyone in the church is given a title. I’m afraid I don’t get it. Is it an ego thing? Do people need a title to feel good about themselves? Or do we think that titles make us important or command respect?
I understand the idea of titles or rank in certain situations, like in the military. Rank generally indicates a level of skill, knowledge, and leadership ability. That was not always the case in my experience, but generally speaking it was true. When I served in the military, I respected those above me in rank, or at least I tried to. I truly believed they knew more than I did, and again, in most cases that was true. I honored their leadership and followed their orders.
I have always sought to learn from the good and the bad in others. So, during my time in the military, I had the opportunity to learn from all types of leaders…the good and the bad. For example, in my early years while waiting for training classes to begin, I was in a squadron called PATS (Personnel Awaiting Technical School). Some of the guys waiting for classes to begin were stuck there for several months. During that time, they made rank and were put in charge. They had no idea what they were doing but they wanted to please the sergeant, so they yelled at everyone. Those one-stripers were 10 times worse than the NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge). We hatred those guys and wanted to give them a blanket party. (Don’t ask.) However, in a way, I felt sorry for those guys. They were thrown into a role of leadership, lacking the training and maturity to carry out the job.
In a way, some of my vision of leadership was formed during my military career. Don’t get me wrong, leadership is important. But God’s blue print for leadership is very different than that of the world. For example, Jesus said, “…whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26b). In I Corinthians 4:9, the apostle Paul says that God made the apostles least of all men, in both the eyes of men and angels. And then, in I Peter 5:2-3, we are told that leaders are to be willing and eager servants that lead by example, not lording their authority over those under their care.
The greatest model of leadership is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many. He came to lay down His life that others might be lifted up. He refused to allow men to give Him a title. “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9) Paul tells us that Jesus, “made Himself of no reputation, instead taking on the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of man. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)
If Jesus is our model for life and leadership, why do we often adopt the world’s view of leaders? Why do we go against the teachings of Scripture and place people on pedestals that only feed the human ego? God’s kingdom usually operates the complete opposite of the world. The highest call to leadership is the lowest rung on the ladder. Maybe the only title we should aspire to is that of a Bondservant of Jesus Christ. I am simply longing to hear the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21)