Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. – Jn. 10:1 KJV
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The concept of shepherd and sheep is one that Jesus Christ has always used to describe relationships between Christians and their Leaders. The parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep is a case in reference where Christ attempted to demonstrate the importance of every sheep to a good shepherd – Matt. 18:12-14. Preceding the scripture for today, was the healing of a man who was born blind, by Jesus Christ. The disciples who were convinced that the origin of the blindness was sin were wondering who it was that could have sinned since it could not be that he had already sinned before arriving the world, but Jesus clarified to them that the blindness of the man was not because of sin, but that the work of God should be made manifest – Jn. 9:1-7. This act of Jesus Christ opened up old controversies between the Pharisees and himself, with the former always challenging the authenticity of the claim of Jesus Christ to some form of leadership or the other, a position they feel is exclusively theirs. A record of one of those instances was recorded in chapter 8 of the same book of the disciple John where the Pharisees continued to scrutinise the claim of Jesus Christ to spiritual leadership – Jn. 8:12-59. It was in the midst of this raging claims and counterclaims that Jesus Christ made the statement that is the foundation scripture for today’s devotion.
In that scripture, he implied that the legitimacy of anyone who plans to lead will be based on the route through which such attained the leadership position. According to him, there is a route that an acceptable leader must pass through to guarantee acceptance of such claims to leadership. Any route different from that acceptable route will always cast doubt on such claims to leadership no matter how strong the argument may be and such a leader will mostly be seen as one who stole leadership, worse still by force which is what a thief and a robber will do. He lists the following characteristics as that to be associated with a legitimate leadership;
- Such assumes leadership through recognised and legitimate routes as the approval of the leadership would have been done by one authorised to confer such status on another – Jn. 10:2
- To such a person, all obstacles to leadership, physical or spiritual automatically excuse themselves without any pressure or cajoling. The case of the evil powers submitting to Jesus Christ is an example to consider – Jn. 10:3a; Matt. 8:28-34.
- To such, even the led willingly submit without much assertion of the powers of his position. Such does not need any introduction as the led see and accept his/her leadership voluntarily and willingly follow his/her instructions without coercion – Jn. 10:3b.
- Such leads from the front and not from behind. To lead from the front is to lead by example as the led will witness practical leadership from the front and not the bellowing of instructions from behind like a slave master – Jn. 10:4. Jesus goes further to emphasise that even the led will consider one who does not have the legitimacy to leadership as a stranger and so will refuse to follow such – Jn. 10:5.
Although verse 6 of that chapter reveals that those who were hearing Jesus then heard but did not understand, the Christian today who is laying claim to leadership cannot give the excuse of not understanding as subsequent events have clarified this statement of Christ better. It will simply not be legitimate for anyone especially within the Christian family to make claims to leadership if such does not have the approval of Jesus Christ. This is because he clarified his statement in verse 7 of the same book of the disciple John that he (Jesus Christ) is the gate that every Christian leader must pass through for approval. The question for you who is then making claims to Christian leadership is, “do you have his authorisation?”. This is because it is the honest response to this question that will explain why you have so many people rejecting your claims to leadership, why there seems to be so much rebellion to your reign and why even when it seems the followers are quiet, loyalty to your leadership is completely absent. The truth is that it may be possible to get away with false claims to leadership in the secular world but will be completely impossible to do same within the spiritual space. If anything, all such will succeed in doing is to plant negative seeds of rebellion and disloyalty into the followers and thus make it difficult for them to change, even when the true leadership appears.
Save yourself all the trauma and the wrong indoctrination of followers by seeking legitimacy for your leadership claims from Jesus Christ. Until that request is favourably granted, do not create further confusion within the fold of Christ by forcing your leadership on people. The best you will get is deception that will only produce bitterness and pain in the end. Take a step back and review such wrongly acquired positions and you will be assured of peace, not only in your life but in the lives of those around you. May God give you the grace to do the needful in Jesus name. Amen.