Here is an excerpt from chapter 11 of Restoring the Ministry of Jesus, about leadership in the kingdom of God:
But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
The first word that should be used to describe leaders in the kingdom is servants. Jesus contrasts leadership in the kingdom with leadership in the world, and basically says that they are polar opposites. In the world people serve their leaders, but in the kingdom leaders serve their people. If you are not a servant you do not qualify to be a leader in the kingdom of God, no matter how great your gifting is. Jesus gave us the perfect example of what a true leader in the kingdom is to be like: He washed His disciples’ feet and ultimately laid down His life.
Pastors and other leaders in the body of Christ are not to lord their authority over people, but instead are to use their position of influence to serve. It is not that leaders do not have authority, but that they should never use that authority for selfish ends or to control others. It is up to the people to choose to submit to the authority of a leader; a kingdom-minded leader never demands such submission.
This kind of selfless servant hood requires true humility. As leaders in God’s kingdom we must learn to humble ourselves and put the interests of others before our own. After all, the nature of a true servant is to be others-focused. Jesus said that whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (See Matthew 23:12). Whatever is produced through self-promotion will ultimately be brought down, but whatever is birthed in meekness and humility will be exalted by the Lord himself.
Another good word for kingdom leaders is fathers. The apostle Paul stated that the church in Corinth had many instructors but not many fathers (See 1 Corinthians 4:15) and unfortunately this pattern seems to hold true today.
What are some characteristics of fathers that are also traits of kingdom leaders? One is reproduction; kingdom leaders reproduce their ministry in others. They have sons and daughters in the faith that they are raising up and mentoring, who will partake of the anointing that rests upon them. They birth others into ministry and release them into their gifts and calling, wanting their spiritual children to go far beyond what they have ever accomplished.
Another characteristic of fathers is relationship; kingdom leaders are relational, not mechanical. This type of leadership is clearly seen with Christ, who spent much time with the twelve disciples, calling them to be with Him before sending them out to minister (See Mark 3:14). This father-son relationship may include elements of bringing correction, but correction is much easier to receive in the framework of a loving relationship. Expecting the ones under your leadership to produce results without a mentoring and nurturing relationship is like Pharaoh asking the Israelites to make bricks without straw, for it is in the context of genuine relationships that fruit is produced in the kingdom of God.
And finally, true fathers lead by example, and so must leaders in God’s kingdom. After Paul reminded the church at Corinth that he was their spiritual father he said “Therefore I urge you, imitate me” (1 Corinthians 4:16). Paul was leading by his example not just by his preaching, and since he was imitating Christ he could ask others to imitate him. Jesus too led by example. He demonstrated the life that he preached about and only asked His followers to do things that He Himself was already doing.