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Leading from the Second Chair (part 4)


In concluding this week’s series of postings on church leadership, I want to add a couple of thoughts from the New Testament that have helped shape my understanding of God’s design for church leadership. The first thought comes from a miracle story in the gospels. Matthew 8:5-9 tells the story of a Roman centurion who had a sick servant. He went to Jesus on behalf of his servant and asked him to heal him. The centurion expressed great faith and told Jesus that he didn’t think it necessary for Jesus to go to the servant. “Just say the word,” the soldier said, “and he’ll be healed.” It’s a great story about great faith. But tucked in the story is one of the best leadership principles in the New Testament.

The centurion explained to Jesus why it was not necessary for him to go. He said, “I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves ‘do this,” they do it” (Matthew 8:9, NLT). Did you catch it? Because the centurion was “under” authority, he was placed in a position “over” his subordinates. Interestingly enough, this Roman made the same observation about Jesus.

Those under God’s authority will be effective when the opportunity arises to be in positions of authority. Spiritual leadership works that way. It’s always more concerned with being under God’s authority than being in positions of authority. Many books are being written on how to “Lead from the Second Chair.” In the church of Jesus Christ, we’re all always in “the second chair.” It’s not our church, for it rightfully belongs to Jesus Christ. When we are rightly related to the head of the church, many leadership “issues” may become resolved. It begins with recognition that Jesus is in charge.

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