The Price of Leadership

Posted on April 17, 2013 by

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There are many things in life for which we pay aGeese1 price. There’s the monetary price we pay for the things we buy. You can talk to a football player about the physical price he pays for playing the game he loves. There is the price of time and effort we pay in study or training to achieve the goals we set. But then there is the price of leadership, and it seems to be a wholly different type of price.

Leadership within the body of Christ exacts a much different type of price. There is a deep internal price to it because it involves people. In 2 Corinthians 11 we get a picture of what this price is. After he goes through a long and almost absurd list of the physical suffering he has endured for the sake of Christ, Paul says, “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? (2 Corinthians 11:28, 29 NASB)” External things? Really? Any one incident from the list he has given would make the strongest of us wilt. But for Paul, those were just physical things. The great price was inside. It was a concern and weakness for others. In short, I think it was love.

Before the fall of man in the garden of Eden, I don’t think there was a price to love. There was the free exchange of love between God and man, and man and woman. But with the choice to go our own way, love became costly, and the ultimate price was paid by God himself. Now for us, there is a great price we pay for love. In this broken world we live in, to love someone is to be concerned for them, to grieve with them and for them, to bear hurt ourselves as we forgive and don’t hold our pain over their heads. It is very costly to love.

Accepting His call as a leader within His body is a choice to love God’s people, lead them where he wants them to go, and take them there in His way. What could we say this really looks like? Here are two things we see in Jesus that can guide the way.

1. Humility. When we look at the life of Jesus, humility is one of the great distinguishing marks. Even though He was God in the flesh, He continually lived out lifting others up before Him, and the only way He lifts Himself up is on a cross, the ultimate act of humility. One of my favorite examples of this is in John 2 when He turns the water to wine. As he performs the first of His miracles, nowhere does he take credit, instead he makes the bridegroom, who has no idea what is going on, the hero of the story. Jesus’ life is about making others better, not making others think He is better.

2. Sacrifice. There is no arguing that Jesus’ life was one of ultimate sacrifice, but we may forget all that He actually sacrificed. Position, title, glory (the way we see it), comfort, acclaim, being attended to by the angels, being praised (traded for being cursed), and in the end, His life. These are only a few examples, but they get us going on the idea of what He calls us to.

John writes to us, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6 NASB). Jesus paid a heavy price. We shouldn’t be surprised at the price we have to pay. Instead, we should embrace and be thankful for it. Lets say with Paul, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10a NASB).

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