What Jesus Did! 'How Not to Lead' — Matthew 23:4-10

Friday, October 27, 2017

"They make strict rules that are hard for people to obey. They try to force other people to obey all those rules. But they themselves will not try to follow any of those rules. The only reason they do good things is for other people to see them. They wear special boxes full of Scriptures. They make these boxes bigger and bigger. And they make their special prayer clothes very long {so that people will see them}. Those Pharisees and teachers of the law love to get the most important seats at the feasts. And they love to get the most important seats in the synagogues. They love for people to show respect to them in the market places. And they love to have people call them 'Teacher.' But you must not be called 'Teacher.' You are all brothers and sisters together. You have only one Teacher. And don't call any person on earth 'Father.' You have one Father. He is in heaven. And you should not be called 'Master.' You have only one Master, the Christ."
— Matthew 23:4-10 NLT
Illustration of Matthew 23:4-10 NLT — "They make strict rules that are hard for people to obey."

Key Thought

I've heard a whole bunch of lessons on how to be a good leader, but I've never heard a more powerful lesson on how NOT to be a good leader than Matthew 23. In this chapter Jesus pronounces seven woes—seven "How terrible!" statements. In these, he denounces the religious leaders of his day for their selfish, misguided, abusive, arrogant, contemptible, and condescending leadership.
Unfortunately, many of the abuses by religious leaders that Jesus denounces in this chapter are actively and widely practiced today by some religious leaders. Anyone longing to be a spiritual leader of any kind must routinely revisit this chapter to be warned about the dangers of distorted leadership. Jesus takes very seriously the way his followers will lead in his Kingdom. Of course, when the hero of a movement is willing to die a sacrificial death for his followers, it tends to stand leadership styles upside down. Maybe that's what Jesus had in mind when he said that in his Kingdom, "The first will be last and the last would be first!" Bottom line for today's verses: Leaders must be helpful to those they lead, not so they will be seen and honored, but so that those they serve will be blessed and God himself will be pleased!

Today's Prayer

O God, forgive me when I grandstand my Christian service. Please open my heart so that I will serve you more genuinely and honestly whether anyone notices or not. Give me eyes to see those who have burdens that need to be lifted and give me willing hands to serve them as Jesus did. In my Savior's precious name I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Galatians 6:1-5
  • James 1:26-27
  • Romans 12:3-8


About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.