Despite the recent platitudes of the UKs political elite about ‘granting’ more powers to the country’s more restless component parts, it is quite clear that this group has no intention of diluting its own power and influence.
A recent government sponsored study by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission into the social background of those "running Britain" merely confirms the existence and corrosive effect of elitism at all levels and segments of society.
The picture painted in the Commission’s report makes grim reading. UK society is described as ‘deeply elitist’, sustained by people educated at public school and the ‘top’ universities of St Andrews and Oxbridge educated who have created a "closed shop at the top". The Commission asserts that elitism is so entrenched in the UK "that it could be called 'social engineering”.
In a recent Guardian interview, Alan Millburn, the Chair of the Commission described the growing disconnect between society’s leaders and ordinary people: "where institutions rely on too narrow a range of people from too narrow a range of backgrounds with too narrow a range of experiences, they risk behaving in ways and focusing on issues that are of salience only to a minority but not the majority in society."
In the UK where the institutional churches mirror society at large, there is a similar growing disconnect between its leaders and the ordinary people who they purport to lead. In the smaller independent and evangelical sectors, a burgeoning leadership elite of pastors, elders, deacons and more recently worship leaders have been joined by a ‘not so new’ self-appointed cadre of apostles and prophets who claim authority over everyone!
Speaking from the heart about leaders in the church, blogger Carolyn Henderson (www.beliefnet.com) gets to the heart of this disconnect which blights the church: “the impression I get is that these leaders, especially the forceful, dynamic ones, are there for the rest of us to follow, and it is through their brilliance, their light, their life, their energy, their study, their words, that we will move forward. Despite all the warm talk of our being brothers and sisters together, I always get the feeling that the guy up in the very front thinks that he is the patriarch.
Leadership is a heady, exhilarating, potentially financially profitable endeavour, and any person who gets a taste of it wants more.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not an anarchist. In every situation, every group, every dynamic, there are leaders and followers, but what we tend to forget — most especially Christian leaders and just as much us ‘laypeople’ — is that there is a time and a season for everything, and just because you speak to a very large audience, does not mean that you always hold the chair. There are times when leaders must follow, and this is not something that I see very much.”
The Apostle Paul was a humble servant leader who was only too aware of his own weaknesses and failings. In his second letter to the Christians in Corinth he laid out the ‘job description’ for Christian leaders:
“as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
Any members of our comfortable contemporary Christian elite willing to step up to the plate and embrace the above?