So. Is this accurate?
Did Jesus say we shouldn't be called leaders?
Matthew 23:8-12 (New International Version)
"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.No, Jesus didn't say "don't be called leader". But it does seem pretty close.
Similarly Luke 22:24-27 (NIV)
Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
'Leader' in the NT
A quick search of 'Leader' in the New Testament does give a few verses that use the word leader, like in Hebrews 13:7.
Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Young's Literal Translation is slightly different, Hebrews 13:17:
Be obedient to those leading you, and be subject, for these do watch for your souls, as about to give account, that with joy they may do this, and not sighing, for this [is] unprofitable to you.
Or Romans 12:8 (NIV)
if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.So, yes.... there will be members in Christ's body that will show leadership and lead others. As I write this... it sounds too simple and obvious. Of course there will be brothers and sisters that go before us. We will learn from and follow those who are living examples of what it means to follow Christ. You can't be a disciple maker without doing some leading.
But... the question still is: Did any of Jesus disciples call themselves leaders?
I can't find any verses. Maybe I'm searching the wrong key words. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
But here are some titles they did use:
Rom 1:1 "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,..."
Php 1:1 "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus..."
Col 4:12 "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings..."
Tit 1:1 "Paul, a servant of God..."
Jas 1:1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ..."
2Pe 1:1 "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ..."
Jude 1:1 "Judas, of Jesus Christ a servant..."
Rev 1:1 "...his servant John,"
Phil 1:1 "Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother..."
They also frequently use the title Apostle - one who is sent as a messenger: 1 Cor 1:1, 2 Cor 1:1, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:1, Col 1:1, 1 Tim 1:1, 2 Tim 1:1, 1 Pet 1:1
And 'The Elder" in 2 John 1:1, 3 John 1:1
Is it just a coincidence that those leading the early church did not call themselves leaders? Or is there a difference between leading, and being called a leader?
If the people we look up to for leadership like their positions of authority... those that follow will naturally want to climb the ladder as well. Young disciples will hope some day they can be leaders. They will think that is the highest calling. Is that what should be modeled?
But I think Jesus wants disciples that learn how to serve. So he wants those mature in the faith to humbly be examples of those who serve, so others will see how to follow.
P.S. don't follow me on this one yet...