Eventually, the disciples got it. They abandoned their pursuits of hierarchy and they embraced the loving, servant leadership posture that Jesus so beautifully modeled for them.
We see this when Peter appealed to the Church as a fellow laborer in Christ and referred to himself as a "fellow elder" rather than as an Apostle:
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” – 1 Peter 5:1-4
Paul echoed this also, saying:
“Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.” – 2 Cor.1:24
People love leaders. We love leadership. We flock to those with the greatest talent and ability. But this is exactly what Paul warns the Church about when he rebukes them for identifying themselves as followers of Appollos, or Peter, or even of himself. (see 1 Corinthians 1:11-13)
Instead, Paul warns all of them not to become disciples of any other man, or leader, but to fully submit to Christ alone as Lord and Savior and Teacher.
It took me about seven years to fully embrace this. I started out giving myself only two “soapbox moments” where I would basically stand up and preach a mini-sermon. Eventually the Lord broke me of that. Next, I had to learn not to answer every question, and eventually Jesus broke me of that habit, too. After that I had to learn to stop playing “Ping-Pong” where I felt the need to respond immediately to whatever was shared in our group, which essentially made me the center of our conversations. Today I’m learning to just listen to people, and to the Lord, when we come together. As someone once said, “Listening to someone is so much like loving them that most people can’t tell the difference.”
What we’re learning to do now as a church family is to meet with Jesus, not just have a meeting about Jesus.
Leadership really is the most important thing in the Church. But only if Jesus is our Leader and the rest of us are brothers and sisters practicing the many “one anothers” found in the New Testament.