Luther on Leadership

Meredith and I have been talking about how easy it is to fail as a Christian leader. You can fall off the horse on both sides. You can be a lazy wimp or a control freak. Very few get it right. I was amazed to discover that Martin Luther dealt with this in one of his early lectures to students.

"Calling these two vices by name we might describe them as frivolity and severity. Of the first Zechariah says (Zech. 11:17): 'Woe to the idle shepherd that leaveth the flock!' Of the second Ezekiel writes (Ezek. 34:4): 'With force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.' These are the two chief sins from which all other pastoral offenses flow. They are the roots of all evil. It is therefore very dangerous for anyone to receive the office, before these two monsters have been slain. The more power they exercise, the greater is the harm they do." Martin Luther

How do you guys battle these beasts? I would appreciate your insights.


Nathan said...

thanks for your comment on Jason's blog, I agree regarding your take on the recent apparent but developing leadership failure.

Matt Snowden said...


My real concern is a developing leadership failure in my own ministry. I truly desire to rid myself of the beasts Luther talked about. Any help in that area is appreciated.

Kevin, Somewhere in Southern America said...

Brother Matt,

I did not think I had much worth contributing to your valuable question. But I am preparing an ordination message and found plenty of answers in Titus 1.

Paul began by telling Timothy that these leaders must not be argumentive hot heads, men of violent passion. Instead, they must be humble, meek men. Then he turns right around and tells them that they must rebuke sharply those lazy, lying, gluttonous natives of Crete. Why? Among other reasons, some of those new pastors would actually demonstrate the same characteristics (compare Zech. 11 to that).

I don't see strong leadership as contradictory to what Paul is saying. It is possible to rule well and not rule as the authoritarian hot head that characterizes some.

In my own ministry, not that it's much of one, I find that following a plan guards against the laziness that can creep in. I also find that if I do what Paul told Titus to tell the Cretians, if I retain the word of God--if I memorize and obey it--I will not rule with force and cruelty.

But that's one traveler's opinion. I am sure there are other opinions out there that are more eloquently stated.

Matt Snowden said...


Wow and thanks! I think your charge to the candidate will set someone up well for fruitful ministry. I appreciate your awesome comment.

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