By Scott Shifferd, Jr
Paul told the Corinthian congregation to “be in subjection to such and to everyone who works together and labors” (1 Cor. 16:15-16). In 55-57 AD, the churches in Rome and Corinth do not appear to have elders yet. Their leadership appears to be a leadership, who served. This reveals what kind of leaders that Christians must seek in elders. Church leaders are also described as “those who spoke to you the Word of God” (Heb. 13:7). Christians are instructed to yield to that leadership (Heb. 13:17).
For sincere Christians, leaders who lead by example and service are desired and not hard to follow. Jesus said to His disciples,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Nations lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).
Christian leaders are not to be an authority lording over the congregation by making demands and restrictions for others, but rather Christ’s servants lead by service, example, doctrine, admonition, and encouragement (Luke 22:24-30). Likewise, elders are to lead by example in their oversight shepherding the flock (1 Pet. 5:1-3, cf. 1 Tim. 3:4-5). Therefore, let us seek to be leaders, and seek and follow leaders who serve.
With such leadership, there is no decision or offense that cannot be settled by individual Christians with example and service of Christian leaders (1 Cor. 6:2-4). Besides submitting to leaders, each Christian is to humbly subordinate to one another and to esteem one another greater than oneself that includes all leaders subordinating such as elders (Eph. 5:21, Phil. 2:3-4).