What attitude should we demonstrate towards those with whom we serve in God’s Kingdom work? Paul gives us a brief outline of his perspective in II Corinthians 1:24: “Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.” Paul’s outlook towards others in ministry is summarized here with one positive and one negative:
First, he described what he did NOT do: “NOT that we lord it over your faith.” Paul indicated that he did not have a “heavy hand” in ministry. He was not the Lord; he served the Lord; he ministered in His name — but he did not “lord” it over those with whom he worked in ministry. Rather, he indicated, he saw himself and his associates as “workers with you.” Significantly, Paul did not say that he was a worker “over you”, but “with you.” Paul was aware of his authority as an apostle, and yet that was not the attitude with which he dealt with people. His attitude towards them was that of a fellow worker.
This fits with what Peter commanded pastors in I Peter 5:3: “nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” Peter told pastors that they are not to try to “throw their weight around” in the church, but are to lead their people by example — showing them by their own spiritual lives what a Christian is to look like.
This attitude is not for pastors only, however. All of us who are Kingdom workers in any capacity should refrain from being authoritarians. We should follow Paul’s example: we are not “lords” over people in our class, committee, or ministry, but “workers with” them. What a blessed place the local church would be if God’s people would truly embrace that kind of attitude!