Four12 article image for 'You Need No Man To Teach You' about the leadership paradox in Scripture

You Need No Man to Teach You

Walking a tightrope is a difficult task. It requires an incredible degree of balance and control. In fact, a tightrope could be described as the ultimate narrow path. In order to maintain his stability and centre of balance over the thin rope, a tightrope walker will often use a pole, weighted at each end, to assist him in successfully making it to the other side. The pole also adds more weight below the centre of gravity of the walker, which is another bonus for staying balanced.

Scripture acts like that balancing pole: preventing the walker from leaning too far to one side or too far to the other.

Our approach to Scripture often needs to apply a similar principle. As I shared in a previous article, the Bible contains a number of paradoxical statements. Some paradoxes are difficult to fully reconcile this side of eternity, but others can easily be reconciled if we correctly interpret Scripture by reading it within context and using the whole of Scripture rather than proof texts.

 

The Leadership Paradox

A good example of this is when we look at how Scripture approaches the issue of leadership in the church. 1 John 2:27 states, ‘But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie — just as it has taught you, abide in him’.

At the same time, we read in Ephesians 4:11-12, ‘And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ’.

Elsewhere we read in Matthew 23:8-10, ‘But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ’.

Yet Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:15-17, ‘For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord.’

Paul himself argues that he is subject to no man’s judgement (1 Corinthians 2:15), but then goes on to say that he has judged another man (1 Corinthians 5:3).

What do we make of all this? Does Scripture contradict itself? Is Paul a hypocrite? Not at all! When we begin to examine the intended audience for each statement and the attitude or behaviour that was being addressed, we see that Scripture acts like that balancing pole: preventing the walker from leaning too far to one side or too far to the other.

 

Two Leadership Leanings

Mankind has a tendency to fall into one of two errors when it comes to leadership.

1. Relying on Leaders

On the one hand, like ancient Israel, man asks for a king to ‘go out before us and fight our battles’ (1 Samuel 8:20). A modern-day manifestation of this is the priest or pastor in many models of church. People often want this, as it is actually easier to absolve ourselves of our personal responsibility of seeking and hearing God for ourselves.  What accentuates the problem is that there are some men, like many of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who are seduced by power and control over others, and will allow themselves to be put on such a pedestal in an attempt to take up a role in people’s lives that rightfully belongs only to Jesus.

2. Rejecting Leaders

It was necessary for Scripture to destroy such a paradigm. Which it does. But without a counter-balance, this could easily lead to problems of an opposite nature, which we have also seen throughout history: men who refuse to submit to any authority in the name of egalitarianism (all people are equal). We have also seen many leaders who abrogate their authority by refusing to lead those for whom God has asked them to take responsibility. Without healthy, godly leadership, there will be chaos in any family, community or church. Therefore Scripture needs to also destroy this kind of thinking.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to give more credence to those Scriptures that support our existing worldview, personality, theology or preferences

We can now see that there is an absolute necessity for us to allow Scripture to correct us, in order to prevent us from leaning too far one way or the other. In doing so, the Bible is not contradicting itself but ensuring our theology and practice are in line with God’s heart – keeping us walking the tightrope without falling. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to give more credence to those Scriptures that support our existing worldview, personality, theology or preferences rather than those which challenge our attitudes and our thinking (something psychologists refer to as ‘confirmation bias’). This can be disastrous! It is like adding extra weight to one side of our balance pole, making it ever more likely that we will lose our balance.

In order to avoid this, we should be aware of our (sometimes unconscious) bias, allow for that bias, and then let ourselves to be challenged, convicted and led by the Holy Spirit into all truth – a truth we will only discover when we embrace the whole counsel of God.

Mike serves on eldership in Joshua Generation Church. He is married to Chantal and they have two daughters. He loves to see people equipped to effectively serve the Kingdom of God through teaching and writing. Follow him on Facebook for more.

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Spreading The Gospel
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Counting the Cost
Healing Equip
books
Raising Leaders
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God's Character
Affirmation
Judaism
Enlightenment
Building Deep
Prostitution
Godly Team
Footholds
Breaking Bread
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Idolatry
Prayer and Fasting
Theology
Foundations
Heaven
Fellowship of Believers
Leading Church
Diversity
Church Accountability
Rebellion
Witchcraft
Baby Christian
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Envy
Quiet Times
Retaliation
Lessons
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Cheating
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Pastors
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Selling Out
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honour
favour
Devil's Schemes
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Loss
The Cross
Persecution
Unfaithfulness
Sacrifice
Brazil
Prophetic Training
Healing Conference
Identity
Small Group
Biblical Pattern
Systematic Theology
False Gospel
Testimony Apostolic
Jews
Reasoning
Watering Down
Reaching Out
Expectancy
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Generosity
Jesus
Purity
Trust
Helps
Mortality
Christian Family Values
Lukewarm
Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
Dominionism
Beliefs
Praying
Celibacy
Fathers
Comparison
Training
Bible Study
Tests
Cross
Fear of Man
Find Forgiveness
Sacrificial Service
Brazil Churches
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Voice of God
Team
Home Group
Change
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Apostolic Leaders
Authentic
Religions
Intellectual Pride
Ambition
Fruitfulness
God's Favour
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Christian Living
Gentleness
Joy
Repentance
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Loving People
Infirmity
Family Values
Righteousness
Leading
Exhortation
Self-Righteousness
Kingdom of God
Commands
Provision
Sex Before Marriage
Mothering
Women in Leadership
Halloween
Honesty
Testing
Crucifixion
Conversion
Guilt
Sacrificial Giving
Church Merger
Equipping
Saints
Leadership Team
Priesthood
Jehovah's Witnesses
Women In Ministry
Fruit of the Spirit
Womens Ministry
Messiah
Mind Idolatry
Megachurch
Biblical Paradox
Honouring God
God's Manifold Wisdom
Church Leadership
Church Life
Giving
Kindness
Revival
Water Baptism
Servant Heart
Living for Jesus
Covenantal Relationships
Division
Accusation
Flesh
Sexual Sin
Scripture
Customs
Provider
Living for God
Mothers
Female Leaders
Calling
Christian Fellowship
Backsliding
Easter
Witnessing
Infidelity
Biblical Culture
Merging Churches
Prophetic Equipping
Gift of Prophecy
Apostle
Priesthood of All Believers
Finance
Servanthood
Biblical Church
Praise
Atheism
Church History
Living the Gospel
Paradoxes in the Bible
Honouring People
Church Planting
Community Leaders
God the Father
Leaders
Salvation
Women
Afterlife
Protection
Dating
Decisions
Eldership
Fleshly Desires
Shame
Truth
Traditions
Works
Morality
Wisdom
Women Leaders
Ordaining Elders
Christian Community
Backslidden
Resurrection
Testimony
Masturbation
Communal Culture
Partnering Churches
Prophesy
New Churches
Five Fold Gift
Trinity
Tithe
Relationship
Employment
Thanksgiving
Atheists
Old Testament Prophet
Ambassadors
Truth in Tension
contradictions
Treasure Hunting
treasure
Deacons
Culture
Good News
Maturity
Self-Control
Word of Knowledge
Bitterness
Self-Pity
Courting
Forgiving
Anger
Freedom
Submission
Gifts of the Spirit
Get Baptised
Works and Faith
Morals
Gift of Wisdom
Females in Leadership
Ordaining
Defence
Commitment
Hearing God
Consequences
Receive Forgiveness
Leadership Training
Living Hope
Zimbabwe
Start a Church
Prophet
New Believers
Being Generous
Study Scripture
Jobs
Entitlement
Misotheists
New Testament Prophet
Work Values
Family
Devotion
Goodness
Men
Serving
Word of Wisdom
Brokenness
Sickness
Courtship
Friendship
Church Plant
Hope
Trusting
Gifts
Baptized
Fasting
Overcomer
Words of Wisdom
Leadership
Encounter
Repenting
Challenges
Listening
Caring for Children
Four12 Partners
Training Leaders
St Johns
Relief Fund
Building Church
Evangelist
Dreams
Communion
Being Accountable
Occupation
Rejection
Misotheism
The Case for Christ
Kingdom Priorities
Biblical Contradictions
Movement
Love
Discernment
Gospel
Mercy
Shepherding
Work
Caring
Suicide
Desires
Lies
Fathering
Vulnerability
Accountable
The Apostolic
Kids
Intercession
Singleness
Fear
lead
Life
Repent
Anxiety
Obey
Child Care
Four12 Partner
Volunteer
Taiwan Church
Israel
Healthy Church
Teacher
Multi-site Church
Perseverance
Loving Others
Profession
Social Media
Hopelessness
Lee Strobel
Kingdom Living
Refining Fire
God's Glory
Marriage
Discipleship
Grace
Ministry
Sin
Worship
Confusion
Trials
Husbands
Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
Christian Leadership
Singles
Healing
Direction
Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
Guidance
Transformation
Volunteering
Taiwan Churches
Providence
New Testament Church
Pastor
Church Structure
Feminism
Apostolic Partnership
Vocations
Distractions
Christian Books
Christian Movies
Covenantal Love
Storms of Life
resilience
steadfastness
uncompromising
Four12 Conference
Accountability
Doctrine
Healing and Miracles
Money
Social Justice
Youth
Death
Tribulations
Partner
Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
Prophets
Fornication
Planting A Church
Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
Partners Relief Fund
Apostolic Partnering
Netherlands
Marriage Training
Church
Apostolic Field
Administration
Racism
Church Partnering
Christian Values
Cosmological Argument
Christian Authors
Review
Husband
Isle of Man Conference
Apologetics
Elders
Heaven and Hell
Obedience
Spiritual Gifts
Caring for Others
Depression
Online Church
Spouse
Conflict
Meekness
Lust
Prophecy
The Gospel
Purgatory
Control
Finances
The Word of God
Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
Great Commission
Existence of God
Christian Literature
Old Testament
Romance
Apostles Teaching
Apostles
Evangelism
Holiness
Partnership
Stewardship
Caring for People
Doubt
Church Involvement
Wife
Reconciliation
Overseers
Lying
Deception
Hell
Raising Children
Godliness
Miracles
Word of God
Ordained
Equality
Breakthrough
Defending My Faith
Covenant
Teenagers
Four12 Churches
Training Pastors
Needy
Rastafarian
Translations of the Bible
Preaching
Authentic Community
Relationship with God
Faith and Works
New Christian
Creation
Reading
Worldviews
God's Love
Presence of God
Apostolic
Faith
Holy Spirit
Pastoring
Suffering
Brotherly Love
Eternity
Community
Wives
Bishops
Shepherd
New Believer
Greed
Immaturity
Raising Kids
Parenting
Poor
Bible
Ordinance
Unforgiveness
Refreshing
Defending The Gospel
Matrimony
Teenage Years
Four12 Church
Youth Leaders
Ireland
Redemption
Godly Leadership
Disciple
Church Discipline
Church Health
False Teachers
Fatherly Love
Tongues
Goats
Fear God
Godly Love
Body of Christ
God's Presence

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