But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12:45-48 ESV)
My last post was about how everyone should be ready. This post follows Peter’s question about who needs to be ready everyone or just the disciples. Jesus uses his question to be more specific about lead-servants. Essentially, more authority means more responsibility. On the positive, a faithful lead-servant will be rewarded greatly, put in authority over even more. But what about those who are not faithful?
Let me begin this discussion with an assertion of an opinion. I believe that church leaders who are not just negligent in their leadership of believers but actually malevolent in their treatment of those they lead have no faith in Jesus. I’ve met some and I’ve avoided them sensing more of the spirits of our enemy than the Spirit of my Master. Now, to be fair about this, it’s my opinion. I confess that when faced with a professing Christian leader who lives out of bitterness and the resulting anger, I have little patience or tolerance for them. I believe they only lead people to hell. That may be a little strong…okay, a lot strong.
Jesus’ point is more about the need for leaders to be ready by being diligent. But He also makes a rather dramatic point in describing the punishment for being “unfaithful”. The lead-servant will be cut into pieces and those pieces will be put with the unfaithful. This is a pretty gruesome description. And that tells me this is a pretty serious offense. Think about it, they (or the pieces of them) will end up with the unfaithful. So, in a sense I’m right, that they only lead people to hell. Of course we could debate what the “unfaithful” refers to, and some may not hold to that being a reference to those in hell. I do.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He also says that the level of punishment will match the level of knowledge these lead-servants have of the will of their Master. As in other places, it seems that those who know more are held to a higher standard. It makes it seem dangerous to study Scripture more, and I suppose it is if we don’t allow His Spirit to use what we read to change our hearts. To whom much is given, much will be required. I seek more, but as I am given more, more will be required of me.
Here’s the thing (and by “thing”, I mean “point”): Those who are lead-servants can decide to not be, can decide to instead just be servants, can opt-out of the higher expectations of leading. And I believe some should. I can, in a sense. But I can’t in another. And I believe that those truly called to be lead-servants can’t really opt-out of leading either. That to be fulfilled in their divine design, some must fill positions and take on responsibilities of lead-servants. They sense Jeremiah’s “fire in their belly”, and cannot opt-out of God’s call to lead. But that also means they cannot opt-out of the penalties. It’s a call with a cost and a risk.
So, if you’re one of those lead-servants, then know that our Master hopes and believes He will find you faithful. Let’s not let Him down. And if you’re one of those servants under a lead-servant, take it easy on those in leadership. They get enough pressure from our Master, don’t put them in the squeeze between you and God. If they’re good, you’ll lose because we ought to obey God rather than man. If they’re tired and weakened by the fight, they may give in to you or just walk away. I did. I walked away from vocational ministry. Don’t be that guy, and don’t be one of those who influence leaders to be that guy. Leaders get plenty from our Master, trust me on that one. It’s says so very plainly right here in this passage. Let’s all take note.
So, what do you learn from Jesus’ warnings to His lead-servants?