Thursday, January 20, 2011


Mark 10:42-45 is a remarkable passage of scripture largely ignored by the Christian community, in practice if not in words. In other words, we talk a good game at serving and practice a better game at ruling, thus, being in our behavior, more like unbelievers, than we are like a biblical believing body.

Remember that the verses referred to in Mark are spoken by the Lord in the context of some of His disciples seeking a better position. [verse 37] Jesus didn't deny the reality of positions [verse 40] but explained the way to be elevated to a position of leadership is NOT by appointment. [verse 42] THAT'S the way of the Gentiles [unbelievers] and NOT the way of disciples. It is this fact..."the way to be elevated to a position of leadership is NOT by appointment" that seems to be totally forgotten by the Church and, as a result, the family.

Someone will, I'm sure, want to remind me that the scripture says Paul "appointed" elders in churches as he planted them on his missionary journeys. I would remind those reminders that the word "appointed" means to "ordain" or "set aside" and had to do with discovering those who were gifted, having a serving heart, who were then RECOGNIZED by the laying on of hands [ordained] to minister in that capacity.

This means that they were viewed to be gifted leaders by others and were thus appointed by the Holy Spirit and then recognized by the people. So that, even when the writer of Hebrews admonishes believers to follow the leadership of elders, it uses the Greek language that according to W.E. Vine, means [peitho] "to persuade, to win over, in the Passive and Middle Voices which indicates one voluntarily does so with an eye on their [The elders] character and life. [Hebrews 13:17]

There is no authoritarianism in Heb 13:17. In fact, the correct interpretation of the language in the first part of that verse is..."Be disposed to be persuaded by these elders to follow them as.." or.."The obedience stipulated is not by submission to an authority, but results from persuation." It's within the power of the body to examine and say 'NO." [See Heb 13:7]

As I read the whole of the New Testament epistles, it is also interesting to me that church leaders were not addressed separately, as if they had some special decision-making authority residing in them, when problems were addressed by the human authors of those epistles. Instead, Paul, for instance, directed his writings to the ENTIRE ASSEMBLY. He did not rebuke the ELDERS at Corinth for failing to deal with the immoral person or for not resolving the disputes among the brethren, as if they [elders] possessed some special ruling right over the body. As Jon Zens says, "He puts the nexus of responsibility on the whole congregation to carry out Christ’s revealed will."

There is a big difference between genuine behind-the-scenes loving elders [plural] who stand firmly for sound doctrine and admonish the Body of Christ to obey scripture and an authoritarian ONE-MAN show who teaches his own agenda and draws people away from the scripture and to himself. The latter MUST not be found in the Church. [Or in the family either for that matter.]

Someone asks, "I thought we were talking about marriage and authority?" We are!! Unfortunately there is a "kissing cousin" kind of relationship that exists between authoritarianism in the home and in the church. This since so many attempt to establish authoritarianism based on certain scriptures falsely interpreted and then applied to ALL men in ALL leadership positions.

So it seems to me that while the Bible DOES makes it clear that we are to submit to governmental authorities such as to the police and we are to obey the laws of our land (pay taxes, obey traffic laws, live peaceably, etc.), it also clearly commands us to NOT set up authoritarian systems or regimes within the Church and, properly interpreted, this prohibition would flow naturally into the home.

One man I read who obviously suffers from an authority complex stated "Every church must have one man who has the final authority and decision making power in the church, or else chaos would reign." I'm sure that man would also falsely pronounce, "Every home must have one man who has the final authority and decision making power in the home." This flies in the face of the servanthood of every believer to others and the truth that Christ IS the ONE MAN who has authority over all the churches AND homes and directs uniquely gifted people [Never one individual] to assist in the growth of all involved in that church or home.

It might help to indicate what an authoritarian individual in a Church or home might look like. I have a friend [Jon Zens] who gave some indicators that I've slightly adapted and will now use here.

1---They make a claim of direct authority from God which attempts to bypass the need to test all things such as character and scripture.

2---Their command to “submit to me” replaces the commitment of “I will serve you”;

3---Their method of leadership is to “order” people around instead of talking, listening, and desiring the right thing.

4---There is a dominating, “pushy” spirit in them instead of a loving appealing spirit.

5---They live in an atmosphere of control instead of an atmosphere of support.

6---They are unapproachable, intimidating and argumentative instead of loving, respectful and conciliatory toward others.

7---They offer an inflexible statement.."do what I say!", instead of a soft question.. "What do you think?"

8---They are more concerned with maintaining an authoritarian structure than they are for caring about the people and where they truly are personally.

May it not be so in our churches and homes is my desire and prayer.

Now we've established from this and the last post that, from my perspective at least, marriage involves more than one person, even in authority/leadership, and that such leadership is never automatic or is never demanded. And the same is true in the church. The next post will address specifically how this can be effectively worked in a marriage and family so that each person can reach their full Christian potential and be uniquely themselves in a family context where there is only One Lord.

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...

OK ... I'll break the ice.

I saw a T-Shirt on the Alaska cruise that said "Leadership is Action .. not Position". I liked that.

It seems to me .. and has for a long time .. that those who lead are those whom people follow. And that's a quality that apparently is instilled in folks by God. I don't think the Apostle Paul had to have any titles in his day, to get people to follow him. To model their lives along the lines of what he had to say.

Same's true today. We have folks who have "offices" in the church, but the folks who seem most influential (in a good sense) aren't occupying any of them.

When I have a real need, I go to the guy with the answers, not the one with the title.

Rex Ray said...

Luke 9:48 is on the same subject as Mark 10:42-45 in saying, “…least among you all, the same shall be great.” (KJ) “…Whoever is the least among you is the greatest” (NLT)

I always wondered how anyone in a ‘position’ (President, King, Pastor, etc.) had a chance to be great. Not until I read the Living Bible (Paraphrase) did I understand: “…Your care for others is the measure of your greatness.”

You mentioned John 10:37, 40, but I won’t mention vs, 38 & 39 as that would be high jacking and make C/R people unhappy. Ain’t I nice? smile

I like your connection: “…"kissing cousin" kind of relationship that exists between authoritarianism in the home and in the church.

Paul, might all the eight statements describing an authoritarian individual apply to a man that slammed a chair to pieces in an argument with his wife?

Christiane, it sounds like you and your husband have a good balance with you being the ‘neck’. If you’d like some of my father’s stories of World War II, check out January 4, 17, 18, 18, and 21 at:

Paul Burleson said...


Here's hoping your post surgery condition is one of healing well. Thanks for breaking the ice. Do so anytime. Good thoughts.

Your Living Bible paraphrase.. …"Your care for others is the measure of your greatness.” speaks to the point of all I've said quite well. It is serving not bossing that is the badge of genuine Christianity.

A fellow who breaks a chair during any argument has all kinds of problems I would think.

Bob Cleveland said...

The surgery went so well I forgot to mention it. Sorry.

Laparoscopic, took an hour, had to wait 3 hours for a room after the recovery room, and then a day in the "South Tower" of Baptist Shelby Med. Ctr. which is best described by its nickname, the Taj Mahal.

Overall, a good experience, no after effects at all 3 days after, and the only reason I didn't go teach Wednesday night .. the day after surgery .. is that Peg thought it best I stay in a few days. But I will be in church & SS Sunday.

Thanks for the good wishes.

I did have a sweet time talking to the nurse in the recovery room, but my nurse in the Taj Mahal was a friend from church that I prayed over (for them to have thildren) 15 years ago. They got 3 kids now and we had us a hallelujah time for a day!

Gem said...

"we talk a good game at serving and practice a better game at ruling" - Paul B


Their command to “submit to me” replaces the commitment of “I will serve you”- Paul B

If I had the time and energy, I could turn the list inside out and upside down about how a wife in the authoritarian paradigm disappears into her "servanthood" which is no healthier than the control and self centeredness of the husband.

I was chatting with another woman my age yesterday comparing notes about how much more respect we get from husbands and children now that we are NOT fully engaged in caretaking, when we make sure to take care of our own needs and pursue our own interests, when we are NOT at their beck and call, bowing and scraping.

Within marriage, it was a revelation moment for me when God showed me that I was NOT supposed to be my husband's "servant". I was supposed to be his FRIEND!

Good riddance slave wifery! :)

Aussie John said...


I'm overjoyed, and truly lost for words, as I read a brother whose understanding of the Scriptures is not driven by tradition.

I have linked to your blog on mine with the hope that my two or three readers will read what you have written.

Bob! Now, there's a bloke who knows what he's talking about, "We have folks who have "offices" in the church, but the folks who seem most influential (in a good sense) aren't occupying any of them."

Anonymous said...

PAUL, I love the idea of the 'servant model' of leadership in the Church. There is no other model for Christian 'leaders' than that model, which was shown to us by Our Lord Himself.
We have a hymn with these words:
Be not afraid, He goes 'before you always'.
That hymn reminds us that following the Lord may not be easy, but it does bring peace.

REX RAY, you know I'm going to look those stories up and read 'em and enjoy them. Thank you a bunch.
Makes my weekend.

sorry you have been 'under the knife' and hope God heals you quickly.
My husband is scheduled for another biopsy and for another eye surgery . . . he is not a happy camper, lately, so I am much busy trying to raise his spirits and get his mind focused on better days ahead.
BOB, have something fun to look forward to when you get better.
It might make your recovery process a bit easier for you.

Love to all,

Paul Burleson said...


My wife and I can both relate to this comment..."Within marriage, it was a revelation moment for me when God showed me that I was NOT supposed to be my husband's "servant". I was supposed to be his FRIEND!

Good riddance slave wifery! :)

For the first twenty years of our marriage we were a picture of the "slave wifey" and the "Lord husbandy." Both were spiritully sick and relationally stunted. We too discovered the "friend" relationship in marriage and thrive in it.

I do think there is a serving attitude among believer friends and others who are equals. [Like husbands and wives] It is far removed from the slave/lord position that are maintained among many in marriage which is not a christian serving attitude at all. FOR EITHER ONE.

By the way, the Church is not to be spiritually sick and relationally stunted either. Slave member and Lord Pastor will do that however. A serving attitude among friends/ equals is spiritully healthy there also.

Paul Burleson said...


I deleted your comment because of the link to the youtube.

I appreciate your concern for advocating that the pulpit NOT be used for keeping church members from voicing concerns about issues. It is obvious that I agree with those sentiments entirely.

However, my desire is that this blog not be a place for revealing of personal failures of individuals as much as a place where we identify what we believe IS a failure and WHY. That way we keep it issue oriented and not person oriented.

If you could state a situation, state what was said and why it is biblically incorrect or personally unhealthy, and that without naming people, I would appreciate it. Please stop by and comment often.

Rex Ray said...

Now you see it…now you don’t. I’m sorry I didn’t copy/paste the comment by someone who referenced a sermon that I thought was very much on topic of a preacher using his ‘authority’ to slam those who questioned his actions.

Sure this is your blog and you have the right to delete any comment, but I’d think you’d put in practice what you’re preaching on this topic. (My opinion of course.)

Maybe I’m too sensitive because I had a brother-in-law, a woman trustee, and two others that questioned the pastor’s logic of selling their church and moving to another town.

Their efforts got the church to reverse the decision. Under new bylaws, they were kicked out of church by a five man board on the grounds “It’s too embarrassing to reveal.”

Later the pastor was fired but not till untold damage was done to the church’s spirit and its membership.

Rex Ray said...

Oops, I commented before I saw your reason for deleting – being “issue oriented and not person oriented.”

That’s what Paul did when he wrote some of the saddest words in the Bible: “No one stood for me.”

I believe if he had named names of those who had the ‘power’ to keep him from prison, people today, would interpret the Bible better.

Paul Burleson said...


I do believe this standard... "a place for revealing of personal failures of individuals" is a worthy standard for a blog. I can reveal my own failures and you yours' but I'll stick with talking about an issue instead of me talking about your failures personally.

My last paragraph of my last comment is an attempt to draw the line clearly. I think it does. But you are correct, I am the one who decides on this blog and I don't think that violates anyone's right to speak. Just draws an integrity boundary I wish this blog to abide by.

I have gone to people personally MANY times about their incorrect/unbiblical behavior and even have taken it sometimes to the Church. But that's not apples with apples with a blog from my perspective.

Paul Burleson said...

Opps I missed you "opps.} Sorry.

traveller said...

Paul, I agree with about 95% of what you have written but I do not believe that in the New Testament the idea of "leader" is present. I readily admit that it did not take long for the church to become institutionalized and positions of "leadership" became common. However, as your correct interpretation of Hebrews and other scriptures make clear, at least to me, the New Testament model is completely about following Jesus as a servant.

Many now argue that what we need are servant leaders but this idea has only been around among Christians and Christian literature since the 1990's and is taken from secular business writing. Indeed the term was coined by a former employee of IBM in the 1960's. His name was Robert Greenleaf who founded the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

I would suggest that servant leadership is a contradiction in cannot serve and lead and one cannot lead and serve.

Paul Burleson said...


Honestly, I agree with what you are saying.

However...[You probably knew that was coming.] While I do think the idea of leader being synonymous with authority or having the authority because...[whatever] not scriptural as it is taught in the present day, I do think that leader, meaning having greater influence in the moment for whatever purpose, is legitimate in the home AND in the church.

For example, in the home, if the family of the wife is at play in a situation, she would be seen, by a serving husband, as the one to give direction about how the time goes on a visit say. The reverse would be true were it his family involved.

This serving/influence attitude is more important the deeper the problems relationally in whichever family is involved.

If I go with my wife to Austin Texas say, for her work, she would have greater influence on most if not all decisions we might have to make on the trip simply because of the nature of our respect relationship.

I think the same frame of reference can be found in the local church. I'm really describing what I think the scripture calls "deference." More on this later. But I agree with your statement completely.

Rex Ray said...

It’s interesting that “servant leader” started being used in the 1990’s (that would be when C/R had control.)

I agree with you: “one cannot serve and lead and one cannot lead and serve.” To me it’s an oxymoron statement.

This year, we struggled with that term as being one of the duties of the pastor in our church bylaws. The church reached an agreement with:

“Be the spiritual servant leader of the church by example while working with staff, deacons, teams, and church body in all areas of church ministry.”

Paul, you said: “If you could state a situation, state what was said and why it is biblically incorrect or personally unhealthy, and that without naming people…”

On the subject of submission, Mrs. Xxx said, “I submit to my husband even when he’s wrong; then he is the one that must answer to God.”

Without the name, I believe her statement doesn’t explain one of the reasons why the SBC is in the shape it’s in.

She taught (‘under her husband’s authority’) a SS class that included men. Too bad her reasoning didn’t work with the wife who followed her husband in being carried from the early church dead.

Paul Burleson said...


I believe Mrs. Xxx is totally biblically incorrect on her statement....“I submit to my husband even when he’s wrong; then he is the one that must answer to God.”

That would be, as I see things, a violation of every command to follow Jesus as Lord that is incumbent upon EVERY believer, regardless of gender. That poor lady is in for a rude awakening one day I believe.

For what it's worth..."well done" on stating issues and focusing there instead of on a person.

Strider said...

Hmm, I am not sure about the etymology of the phrase 'servant leader'. J. Oswald Sanders published 'Spiritual Leadership' in 1967 based on lectures he gave for Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1964. In chapter 3, titled the Master's Master Principle, he writes, 'The term servant speaks everywhere of low prestige, low respect, low honor. Most people are not attracted to such a low-value role. When Jesus used the term, however, it was a synonym for greatness. And that was a revolutionary idea.'
Sanders goes on to describe biblical leaders as servants but I confess he does not say 'servant leadership' but merely asserts that servanthood is what spiritual leadership is.

So, I will hang on believing in Servant Leadership because my Lord was a servant and I am destined to be like him.
Very good post, Paul!

Paul Burleson said...


I really do think the phrase "servant-leadership" is improperly used and defined in a lot of quarters today. It winds up meaning "positions" held by men who are to have a kind and gentler attitude then that of dictator. I think that's a misuse of it biblically really.

I think leading is alright when it is used within the framework of serving and not of position. I'm making a distinction here between the business world and the Church and home.

It is this that makes a janitor in a fellowship of believers who is responsible for a room full of janitorial supplies, someone I'm going to defer to with regards to how those supplies are used. He's serving all by being in charge and I'm serving him in that arena..willingly.

My illustration sounds a little silly on the surface but, honestly, is an illustration I use when teaching the triangle of Responsibility/Authority/Accountability in Pastor's Conferences. We the family or in the Church..serve within all three in some fashion or to some degree. It's finding out how to serve this way together that is the oil of human relationships.

Strider said...

I agree with that as far as it goes. The servant-leader term has certainly been misused by those who do not understand it. And, I agree with you completely about positional verses moral authority. The way it gets practical for me is that when I am dealing with someone like the janitor and I find out that he really dreams of becoming something else, something he believes God has gifted him to be, do I empower and encourage him to become what God wants him to be or do I insist he stay a janitor because I really need a good janitor? That defines the servant leader for me in a lot of ways.

ooh, word verification: Shines.

Paul Burleson said...


Excellent comment.

My response is two-fold. If that Janitor aspires some other responsibility in the body, it will show as being of the Spirit by his serving where he does have responsibility and by his giftedness as seen by the body.

I would be showing my servanthood by looking to him as an equal and as a leader in his responsibility whatever mine might be.

Whether responsibilities change would be under the direction of the Spirit as He uses the whole Body to recognize giftedness not JUST desires.

All this is possible in a local church as I've seen in the past quarter century of pastoring. [It's possible in families as well.]

traveller said...

This is a good discussion. It may be a degree of semantics but I still believe the very word "leader" or "leadership" has too much authority connotation to it to even be used.

Likewise, the exercise of a gift or even decision making by the person best qualified to do so is not leadership to me. I realize others will suggest this is precisely what leadership is comprised of. However, if we think of the church as a living organism or body as Paul's metaphor describes it, the description of the working together in harmony with each organ/person doing what it is gifted to do.

So, in this sense I agree with Paul B. in his illustration of the trip to Austin with his wife. The problem is that using the term leader then places some aura of authority for that person. As Strider states correctly Jesus was a servant and that is the example we are called to follow because Jesus was the only human to bear the image of God perfectly and to be fully human, as God intended at creation. It is another one of those paradoxes that Jesus is both servant as a human and the one with all authority as part of the Trinity. We are to follow Jesus as the perfect human who demonstrated perfectly what it means to be a servant.

Paul Burleson said...


A very good and clear statement.

I just completed my next post and saved it for posting tomorrow. I'm telling you this so that you'll know I wrote it BEFORE I read your comment. I'm going to post it "as is" and see what you think.

I have to say that I hear and agree....but.... there is something....I don't know what....that remains inside me with just a bit of a check.

It could be nothing more than sheer ignorance on my part about the subject matter. There is plenty of that. It could be that I'm about to learn something completely new. It could be just a simple nuance to the whole thing.

Whatever it is, it allows me to agree with what you've said and leaves me with an "and..." I think I'm about to learn something. ;)

Aussie John said...


Traveller certainly has a point when he says, "It may be a degree of semantics....".

My own two cents of thought is that, this issue is almost paradoxical, because serving IS leadership, as Jesus points out in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

He is our Shepherd, our Leader.

I personally, don't like the term "servant-leader", but I believe I understood Pauls use of the term, and the mindset behind his using it.

The problem arises when Christians use it whilst holding the secular/pagan mindset of compounding the two words, "servant" and "leadership", whilst meaning boss, CEO,head honcho, or the like.

Albert Schweitzer was correct when he said, "The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."

Servant-hood IS leadership! Jesus demonstrated that so well!

Leadership IS NOT servant-hood!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the site that contained those stories . . . I wish my father was still with us so I could have read them to him.

I left a note over on that blog. My goodness, what a conversation went on there . . . it was fascinating to read.

Thanks again. :)


Rex Ray said...

Thanks for saying thanks. I’m curious how you left a note there. (I couldn’t find it.) The blog < >, is the Baptist Standard newspaper that “remains committed to its 122-year-old mission as the news journal of the Baptist General Convention of Texas” …said by Marv Knox the editor.

Knox and I have become friends by my letters to the Standard since 1998.
I’ve told him to write and read on his blog is like trying to drive a car with the steering wheel in the trunk; and why doesn’t he make his blog like most blogs.

I mean if little known Wade Burleson can start a blog and in five years have over four million hits, why can’t the Standard’s blog get off the ground?

The blog prints what is said under a possible hundred topics and also prints the last comment written where it is exposed when the blog is opened.

This feature is interesting, but revealing as sometimes a comment may stay as long as three days which mean no one is writing.

Most ‘topics’ have no comments, but the one you read has more than any other. It too will soon ‘fade’ into the past only to be found if you know how to search for it. I believe they need someone like Thy Peace to help them.

Paul, sorry this has been off topic.

Aussie John, I believe you hit the nail on the head with your saying:

“Servant-hood IS leadership!...Leadership IS NOT servant-hood!”

I believe SERVANT-HOOD will say: ‘Our deacons…our ushers…’ whereas LEADERSHIP will say; ‘My deacons…my ushers…’

Anonymous said...

"Many now argue that what we need are servant leaders but this idea has only been around among Christians and Christian literature since the 1990's and is taken from secular business writing. Indeed the term was coined by a former employee of IBM in the 1960's. His name was Robert Greenleaf who founded the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

I would suggest that servant leadership is a contradiction in cannot serve and lead and one cannot lead and serve."

Oh, it IS a contradiction in terms. Like Jumbo-Shrimp. :o)

Ironically, I thought Ken Blanchard coined it. That is what he told us when he was bringing his new training for mega church leaders about servant leadership back in the 1990's.

It was to be a "kinder, gentler" type of leadership. Sort of like putting silk gloves on a steel hand.

But let's face it. We are NOT to be like the world. We are not to subscribe to the system of the Gentiles of chain of in human heirarchies in the Body or marriage. Jesus Christ said one cannot serve two masters. Another problem is that the human hierarchies in the Body and in marriage take the place of the indwelling Holy Spirit in a believers life. It stunts our growth in Holiness.

We should strive to be led by the Spirit. Not another human.


Paul Burleson said...


You said...." Another problem is that the human hierarchies in the Body and in marriage take the place of the indwelling Holy Spirit in a believers life. It stunts our growth in Holiness."

I say......"I couldn't agree more. favorite oxymoron of all time is.."Sanitary Landfill." ;o)

Anonymous said...


It's me, L's

I located the stories on this site you gave us:

and I am not seeing my comment there, either. So I don't know what happened.

The comment was short and did contain my wish that my father might have been able to enjoy those stories.

Keep the stories coming!!!!
Put them into a book. They are the kinds of stories that should be shared with a wider audience, REX.
You are a natural writer. Go for it. :)

Gem said...

Paul (1/22 7:59pm),
Your testimony of spending 20 years in that paradigm brought tears to my eyes.

Tears of hope that change is possible- even for "old dogs" (no disrespect intended)

Gem said...

I used to think servanthood=leadership and say things like "go look in the church kitchen and you will find the 'leaders'"

There's an element to truth to it. The unwillingness to take a low humble position is really insulting to those in that position.

But on the other hand, the martyrdom of that kind of "servanthood" is a kind of pride too, I think. It deadened my spirit to believe and live that I am constrained to grunt work forever and have nothing to offer anyone but washing their dirty feet (or behinds).

With 8 children, my grunt work never ended. It was thankless work, and I think that has a lot to do with the male leadership paradigm we embraced. My role of constantly serving everyone was inferior in every way and not respected by husband OR children.

traveller said...

These are all interesting and good thoughts. As I read these comments my reaction is that there is a confusion about the definition of leadership. For example, while leaders do set an example (all people do..either good or not so good), setting an example is not the same as leadership just as setting an example is not the same as serving. We can set an example of servanthood by serving but again that is neither a synonym for leadership nor for servanthood.

All definitions of leader or leadership include the idea of authority or control or position or something similar. Look at any dictionary. Not only is this the formal definition it is what most people think of when the terms are used no matter the context and no matter how gentle the leader. As Lydia so articulately states the idea of servant leadership or a Christian leader is more the steel hand in the silk glove. No matter how well intentioned a "leader" it is still not the same as being a servant. A servant recognizes that others are gifted in ways they are not and because of their deep love defer to the other person to act in their area of giftedness. The other person is not a leader either but merely exercising their gifting as God intended. Within the church it is not my responsibility to lead another person(s). It is my responsibility to serve them, defer to them, love them, allow them to exercise their gifts, encourage them, help them mature into the humans God created them to look like Jesus. And this is the responsibility of others in the church as well. Frankly, this is much messier than "leading" because it is not controllable, but it also results in the church being what God intended because ultimately the authority in the church is God himself, not any human. To attempt to "lead" is to usurp God's authority and position, no matter how well intentioned.