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Christian Counseling: Heroes and Leadership

Optimus Prime, Xena, Buffy, Spiderman, Princess Leia, Ironman, yes, they are all heroes. Is there any child, along with some adults, who does not at some point idealize a person or Autobot? All of us at one time or another desire, and in some ways need, to look up to someone or something greater than ourselves. It almost seems instinctive. Most children identify with the hero who almost always possesses characteristics, like: courage, strength, fairness and concern or love for others. This seems like a good thing, and certainly is not all bad. But I have a concern that it morphs into the adult version of desiring or needing heroes.

It appears the adult version is desiring more realistic humans who can't transform or cling to a smooth surface, and who eventually physically tire and are unable to win every single battle. They are seen as quasi-superhuman. These adult heroes are given names or titles or their given names are idealized. Contemporary names include: some nicknames, sports figures, doctor, the overused "hero," rabbi, pastor, teacher, leader and even Father. This list is not exhaustive. We could include any name that is accompanied by an attitude or belief that raises the value and importance of a man or woman beyond what is true and wise, beyond the One we call Jesus. Some of these other names are: CEO, chief, Senator and counselor. In biblical times some men's names were lifted up--"I am of Paul..."I am of Apollos" (1 Corinthians 3:4), to which Paul responded by saying they are but servants. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God grew (:6). Paul says we can follow his (and other men's) example, but we don't extol them to the position of hero, or said differently, people who replace Jesus on some level. And it is right to honor those in positions of responsibility. But there are limitations. In the Old Testament, Israel wanted kings to rule over them, but God didn't want it so. The people pressed the point and God relented, saying the people have rejected Him as King for inferior earthly kings (1 Samuel 8:4-7).

Matthew 23:8-10 tells us not to call others rabbi or teacher or father or leader because "'One is your Leader, that is, Christ.'" There are authors today, with whom I agree, who say there is no biblical mandate, suggestion or even hint there should exist a hierarchy of leadership in the church (by which we identify with a label), for we are all one and equal, though some more talented or differently gifted. Verse 11 goes on to say we are all servants and Ephesians 5:21 unequivocally states mutual submission is the standard by which every Christian lives his or her life in the body of Christ.

First Peter 5:3 says those who lead (however, are not called leaders, but servants, shepherds, overseers, etc.) are not to lord it over others who are in their care. Those who have charge over others are to model their leading by the greatness of serving and by persuasion (Greek - convince. Other similar words are win and urge. Matt. 28:14; 2 Cor. 3:43 and Acts 13:43).

Also, using the word "leadership" is at the very least confusing, if not wrong, because it refers to the state or position of being a leader. Any time we call someone by an elevated name, accompanied by the same attitude of extolling him beyond what is appropriate, we place him between us and God, similar to putting one who hears confession between us and God--Jesus is our only Mediator. God is jealous to keep the honored position of being our One and Only Leader, Teacher, Father and King. It is so easy for young people and children to attribute their desire and need for heroes to men and women. The developmental consequence of that is it seems normal and natural for adults to want their presidents, kings, leaders, etc. In the church, Jesus Christ is The Leader, let it be so.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Beti wrote:
Gary, don t hold back man, keep pinhusg for a prayer revival because it is the pathway to spiritual revival.

02/07/2012 @ 11:43 PM

2. vwtmywv wrote:
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02/08/2012 @ 12:27 PM

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