Leadership in The Brethren Church is markedly different from society’s view of leadership. Leaders in society often claim power and use power for self-serving ends; we reject the belief that leaders should cling to power. Instead, we say with Jesus, “whoever wants to be first must be last" and “whoever wants to be great must be the slave of all” (Matt 20:25-28). Rather than protect their own power, our leaders seek to have their leadership tested and critiqued within the context of safe, loving relationships that honor the work God has done through them on behalf of the church.
Jesus, whom we seek to follow, took up voluntary slavery on behalf of others. Leaders in The Brethren Church do the same. They do not seek to build their own kingdoms or bring glory to themselves, but like Jesus, build God’s Kingdom and bring glory to God. If we are called to positions of leadership in The Brethren Church or our various congregations, we consider ourselves to be servants of both God and the people around us. We act as advocates for others by meeting their needs, ensuring their well-being, and doing what we can to bless and build their lives. This approach to leadership is highly relational. To be a leader in The Brethren Church is to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) in difficult circumstances, rather than avoid conflict or enable it.
Our view of Leadership takes into account both the Generational Mandate of The Brethren Church, and our concern that we steward well our resources, gifts, and times. Following this, leaders do what they can to help people “fan into flame” the gifts God has given them to build God’s Kingdom (2 Tim. 1:6). We mentor, teach, and preach in a way that is mindful of potential future leadership needs in the church, as well as the needs of the present.
We also recognize that servant leaders are empowered by God. We believe that God has equipped those who make up the body of Christ with particular gifts. We believe that it takes the entire church, working with the gifts that God has given each member, to achieve the full intentions God has for us. No one individual can carry out the work God has for his people (Ex. 18:13- 27; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 2:8-10; 4:11-16).