Trading Rights For Responsibilities

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“When you become a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself.” —Gerald Brooks 

Sadly, I encounter far too many “leaders” (at least they are leaders in title only) who think being a leader means they have more rights. It might be the right to a better parking place, or to be first in line, or to ignore some of the rules that others have to follow. 

That certainly wasn’t the attitude of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9, a chapter which the NIV gives the heading ‘Paul Gives Up His Rights’:

Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:11-12 NLT) 

Paul said the natural thing was for those in leadership to feel entitled to certain rights, but the spiritual thing is to turn those rights into responsibilities toward the people around us. 

Spiritual leadership is not about gaining more rights, it’s about fulfilling God-given responsibilities. In fact, the higher you progress in a leadership role, the fewer rights you have. Godly servant leaders gladly trade rights for responsibilities. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who has stopped demanding his “rights.”

To trade our rights for responsibilities is a sacrifice. But I don’t mean a sacrifice that comes with a “Woe is me!” feeling. God will only ask us to sacrifice what is holding us back. God wants to use His leaders to minister to His people. He will not give us a larger position if we are only going to use that for our own benefit.

Consider the rights Jesus had because He was fully God. Yet He made the ultimate rights-for-responsibilities sacrifice by going to the Cross in our place. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). 

Leaders, I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be clinging to your rights, and how you can exchange those rights for responsibilities to the people God has placed under your care.

This is part 65 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here. 

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