The Egalitarian Bastardization of Christ’s Servant Leadership

“We are to live under a different system, where neither husband nor wife exerts power over the other. Our God was not a “servant leader” but an actual servant. The difference is huge.

Imagine a king who chooses to live among his subjects. He works with them, eats with them, and shares conversation with them. But he can’t be one of them, because he has power they don’t. He can change his life—or theirs—on a whim, and they can’t. He and his subjects can appear the same, but they can’t be the same as long as this power differential exists. The only way he can change this is to give up the crown. That’s what Jesus did. And that is what Paul calls husbands to do in Ephesians 5.”

The statement above comes from an article entitled “Why Marriage Must Be Egalitarian to Be Truly Christ-like” from CBEInternational.org.   And the statement above is nothing less than a complete and utter bastardization of Christ’s teachings regarding servant leadership.

This is what the Devil does.  He takes some bit of truth and then twists it into a lie to fit his purposes.  Is it true that Christ said leaders should serve those under their leadership? Absolutely.  But he did not teach or do the things that Egalitarians say he did in the statement above.

To expose this heresy that Egalitarians teach we will look at what Christ actually said and what he actually did in comparison to their assertions.

Christ’s Teaching and Example of Servant Leadership

In Mark 10:42-45 Christ made the following statement:

“But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:  And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

This is probably the greatest statement Christ gave on serving.   But to fully understand Christ’s Words in Mark 10:42-45 we must contrast them with another statement he made to the Jewish leaders in Matthew 26:63-64:

“But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.   Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

The Jewish leaders knew exactly what Jesus was alluding to when he said he would come on “the clouds of heaven”.  This was a reference to what the prophet Daniel said in Daniel 7:13-14:

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

In Jesus’s first coming, he did not yet come to establish his earthly kingdom, but instead he came to be the suffering servant. He came to do for us that which we could not do for ourselves.  He came to pay for our sins and to purchase his church, his bride, with his blood (Acts 20:28).

But one day he will return to establish his earthly kingdom.  And in that kingdom, he will compel all nations to serve him.  And if they do not, they will be punished with drought and plagues as Zechariah 14:16-19 shows.

Christ Was Not Just a Servant, He Was a Servant Leader

The egalitarian assertion that Christ, “Our God was not a “servant leader” but an actual servant” is demonstrably false.   

Jesus did NOT lay aside his crown or kingship, he was still king of heaven but he had not yet established his earthly kingdom as he stated in John 18:36:

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.“

When Christ drove the money lenders from the temple, that was an exercise of his authority and power in John 2:15-16:

"And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;  And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."

Only a leader can issue commands to others, and that is what Christ did with his Apostles in Mark 6:7-8:

“And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;  And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse”

Christ “commanded” his twelve disciples and only a leader can do that.   He gave them power over unclean spirits and once again only a person with power can give power.

Christ spoke as “one having authority” as the people saw in Matthew 7:28-29:

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:  For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

He gave a great commission in which he first asserted his power then gave the following commands to his Apostles in Matthew 28:18-20:

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

No, my egalitarian friends – our God, Jesus Christ, was not just a servant, he was indeed the ultimate servant leader!

Christ Was Correcting Earthly Authority, Not Abolishing It

Christ made the following decree through his Apostle Paul in Romans 13:1-7:

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.   For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. 
Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

And in Hebrews 13:7 Christ made the following statement through the writer of Hebrews regarding obedience to church authorities:

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

In 1 Peter 3:1-2 & 5-6 Christ tells wives through his Apostle Peter:

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;  While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear…For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”

And in Ephesians 6:1 Christ tells children through his Apostle Paul:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”

So, as we can see from the passages above, Christ was not abolishing human authority or saying it was wrong for human authorities to exercise their power over those under their leadership.   But rather, he was showing us how human authorities at all levels should conduct themselves. He was showing us the difference between good and bad leadership.  The difference between a selfish leader and a servant leader.

Selfish leaders only think of themselves and not the good of those whom they lead.  A Christ-like servant leader thinks of the good his people.  He is willing to step in and do any job when his people cannot do it for themselves even to the point of giving his life for his people as Christ did.  But as we can see from the fuller picture of Christ’s leadership, a servant leader still compels the obedience and service of those under his authority. 

Servant Leaders Compel Their People to Fulfill Their Mission

Christ had a mission, and so does every leader. Civil leaders have the mission of protecting the rights of the people by punishing evil doers and praising those who do well.   Church leaders have the mission of spreading the Gospel, discipling believers and disciplining those who bring shame on the church by their public sins.  

And husbands have the greatest mission of all earthly authorities.  This mission is seen in 1 Corinthians 11:7:

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

A man’s life mission is to live out the very attributes of the masculine God which we serve and thereby bring God glory.  A part of his mission is for him to image God as a father to his children in teaching them, disciplining them and preparing them for the roles which God has given them in this life. 

One of the most crucial aspect of a man’s mission is his leadership of his wife.  This leadership is to imitate God’s leadership of his people.  The requirements of this part of man’s mission are seen in Ephesians 5:25-29:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”

Men have the awesome responsibility of washing their wives’ spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God, just as Christ does his church.  The purpose of this washing is to help a wife to reach her full potential as a wife, to be the glorious wife God wants her to be. 

And what does it mean to be a glorious wife? That is also revealed in this same chapter of Ephesians in verses 22-24 and 33.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing…Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

A glorious wife according to these Scriptures is one who submits to her husband as she would to God with the exception of if her husband asks her to do something which violates God’s law (Acts 5:29).  A glorious wife submits to her husband in everything, not just things she is comfortable with or feels like doing.  And a glorious wife reverences her husband with a deep and profound respect.

It is not a coincidence that there are two things’ men desire most from their women – submission and respect.  Because this desire in men directly represents the image of God in man.

Another part of a man’s washing of his wife requires that he also follow Christ’s example with his churches in Revelation 3:19 where said “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”  So, a man washes his wife with the Word of God and he rebukes and chastens her all to bring her to the point of being the glorious wife she should be.

In addition to his responsibility to wash, rebuke and discipline his wife he also has the responsibility to nourish (provide for) and cherish (protect) his wife as he would his own body. 

All of these acts together constitute a man’s service and his love toward his wife.  His leadership of her is his service to her. His teaching her the Word of God and washing her spiritual flaws to make her a better a wife is his service to her.  His discipline of her is his service to her.  His provision for her material needs and his protection of her to the point that he would be willing to give his life for hers is his service to her.

A Wife’s Service to Her Husband Looks Very Different Than His Service to Her

While it is absolutely Biblically true that a husband and wife ought to serve one another, this does not mean that their service looks the same. In fact, the way they should serve one another looks very different according to the Bible.

God has called wives to serve their husbands by bearing and caring for their children. In 1 Timothy 5:14 the Bible calls on women to “bear children” and in Titus 2:4 the Bible calls on women to love and care for their children.

God has called wives to serve their husbands by managing the domestic affairs of the home. In 1 Timothy 5:14 the Bible calls on women to “guide” the domestic affairs of the home and in Titus 2:5 it tells women to be “keepers at home”.  

God has called wives to serve their husbands by freely and willingly offering their bodies to their husbands for their sexual use and satisfaction. In Romans 1:27 the Bible calls sex “the natural use of the woman” and in Proverbs 5:19 it commands men to “satisfy” themselves with their wife’s body. 

God has called wives to serve their husbands by bringing them glory.  In Proverbs 12:4 the Bible says that a “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband” and in 1 Corinthians 11:7 we read that “the woman is glory of the man”.  A woman brings her husband glory by serving him faithfully in submitting to his leadership, in her mothering of his children, in her keeping of his home and in her satisfying his sexual desires with her body.  She brings him glory with both her inward beauty and her outward beauty.

Conclusion

Egalitarianism is nothing less than complete rebellion against God’s establishment of patriarchy, male headship, in all areas of society including the family, the church and civil government.  The lack of male leadership in any of these spheres leads to chaos and destruction.  God spoke about this in Isaiah 3:12 when he said “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths”.   And this is what we are witnessing today in our equality obsessed western nations.

Jesus Christ never gave up his heavenly kingship when he came to earth.  But rather he asserted it many times while he was here in his earthly ministry.  He was not just a servant, but truly he was a servant leader.

Christ taught us that a servant leader does not use his leadership only to fulfill his own desires.  But rather he works with and helps the people under his leadership to work together to fulfill the mission he has been given or that he has set for himself.   He develops the people under his leadership and seeks to help them reach their full potential.  He steps in wherever help is needed and sacrifices himself for his people, but he also pushes his people to do what they ought to do and disciplines those under his authority to help them to do what they ought to be doing.

The truth we find in the Bible is that while God has called husbands and wives to serve one another, he has called them to serve one another in very different ways. The husband serves his wife as her head, while she serves him as his helper. He uses his headship to make her the most glorious wife she can be by God’s standards, and she helps him by bringing glory to him in all that she says and does.

4 thoughts on “The Egalitarian Bastardization of Christ’s Servant Leadership

  1. Do you think it is fair to say “Jesus served by leading”? It seems the servant-leader motif is quite similar to a shepherd, one serves his sheep by leading them to green pastures and still waters, by using a rod and staff to correct and comfort them. Protection, provision, correction and leading seem to be leadership traits common to shepherds, the ministry of Christ and the role of a husband. Sometimes the ones served are not happy following their appointed leader, no matter how well he is serving as a leader. Sometimes the people of God are hard hearted and stiff necked. I seem to recall Jews wondering in the dessert complaining that Yahweh as a leader wasn’t serving their needs. That didn’t go well for them. I think that is a fitting critique for the plethora of “Christian” authors who complain about how husbands need to more servant in front of their leadership.

  2. Jonadab,

    Yes I absolutely think Jesus served by leading. I think he also served by being willing to give his life for those he led. I think his washing of his disciples feet also showed that a leader should never be too proud to get into the trenches with his followers and help where help is needed. For instance, while I think God wants women to be the ones doing the domestic work of the home, but if a man’s wife is sick and unable for a time he should not be too proud to wash the dishes or cook a meal or do some laundry where it is truly needed.

    On a totally different note – have not heard from you in a while and I know I have been spread thin with my day job and keeping up with all my extended ministries, how have you been my friend? how goes family life?

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