The Church is no place for Competition
"And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves." (Luke 22:24-27)
How seriously do you take Jesus's command, "But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest and the leader like the servant." I wonder if most people even know how to approach such an admonition coming from our Lord.
The world is not now, nor has it ever been a place where leaders learn to be humble and take the lowly place. However, in the kingdom of God, it has always been that way. In the book of Numbers, we find a fascinating story, which is concerned with this very teaching.
The Elder Incident
"The LORD, therefore, said to Moses, "Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. "Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; they shall bear the burden of the people with you so that you will not bear it all alone." (Numbers 11:16-17)
Moses was bearing the burden of the people, and he needed help. Seventy men among the elder were chosen to help, and they prophesied once and stopped. Two continued to prophesy, and this is what happened next.
But two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them (now they were among those who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent), and they prophesied in the camp. So a young man ran and told Moses and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” Then Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel." (Numbers 11:26-30)
A young man, we are not told who by name, and then Joshua approached Moses and told him to RESTRAIN the two who continued to prophecy. Then comes this outrageous response on the part of Moses. “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” Make no mistake about what kind of man Moses was, we are told in Numbers 12:3, "(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)" O' for men like that today.
Leadership in the Church
I do not want to say there are no humble men today, but sometimes the importance of the office, coupled with the dynamic of much learning, turns the head of the man that is to lead from a form of humility to one seeking to control. Control is not good. Only Christ controls the church; it is for leaders to the point to Him who leads.
One further dynamic must be understood, and then we will conclude. The people who needed Moses to bear their burden were not in the spiritual kingdom of God. Only the remnant receives the Spirit of God; the rest are left outside the camp, spiritually speaking.
"I am telling the truth in Christ, and I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites..." (Romans 9:1-3)
The key phrase in this portion is "...my kinsmen according to the flesh..." Whether Jew or Gentile in this present age it is always the remnant that is saved. The context of Romans 9-11 demands this interpretation. Broad is the way that leads to destruction and many go in that way. Many refer to themselves as Israelites as many refer to themselves as Christian. God alone determines who's who.
It is a significant burden for a Christian minister to lead unsaved sinners, therefore, ungodly people. However, it should be the greatest joy for men to guide those filled with the Holy Spirit. There should be nothing average about the average Christian, just as there is nothing ordinary about a person filled with the Holy Spirit.