Leadership Magazine’s blog, Out of Ur, featured this funny little cartoon depicting an Egyptian master assuring the slaves, “Believe me, fellows, everyone from the Pharaoh on down is an equally valued member of team.”

We can all see how funny and ridiculous it is to suggest that these slaves were in any way equal to the Egyptian Pharaoh. Similarly, my suggestion in a previous post that every follower is a leader in the church may seem just as silly but I think it is biblical. To explain why this is a valid assertion, let’s start with this functional definition of leadership.

In the church family, every follower of Jesus is a member, every member is a minister and every minister is a leader.

First let me make two observations about the term leadership.

  1. Leadership is not a job description, it is a character trait.
  2. Leadership is a demonstration of mature discipleship.

When I first shared these thoughts, my friend Marion asked a very insightful question.

So if I’m reading this correctly, Joe, everyone in the church family is a leader~ or could be one, anyway. The reason why I say “could” is because not everyone “will”… as a matter of fact I would say most do not see themselves as leaders in the traditional sense and are happy not to take on any leadership because with it comes increased responsibility, commitment and accountability within the church body.

Marion is totally right.  Not everyone will become a leader, but still God’s design for church is that every follower find a way to lead.

Marion is a great example. She has experienced tremendous growth in her faith over this past year and it shows in her leadership. Marion is a mother and a great spiritual leader for her kids. Marion is a leader in our MOPS group and is modeling what it means to be a follower of Jesus to many of the younger moms. Marion works with our kids on Sunday. Some of these kids do not have a stable home environment and Marion is able to lead these kids into a relationship with Jesus. Marion takes the initiative; when there is a need, she steps forward. When the Holy Spirit moves, Marion listens, takes action and models obedience to Christ. That, to me, is the maturity of faith that defines leadership in the Body of Christ. But with all this going for her, Marion still has trouble seeing herself as a leader.

I don’t think of myself as someone leading the church. In doing the things you’ve mentioned I lead my life putting Christ front and center allowing the Holy Spirit to be in the “drivers seat” to ultimately bring Glory to God through His Grace.My goal every day is to live a surrendered life in the Spirit and therefore I don’t lead, instead I’m being led.

And only when I can let go of my selfish desire to be in control all the time (and boy what hard work that is) I can touch the life of others in a way that God’s Grace can shine through me.

I can not take credit for something God has done, so I’d rather just look on with my brothers and sisters.

Marion’s actions demonstrate to everyone that she is a leader and her attitude demonstrates why Marion is a great one!

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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