The Christian minister holds a unique position in the world today. As leaders of communities they are given charge over people and head up teams of both employees and volunteers. They are often responsible for a big expensive building (sometimes more than one) and are given respect and influence in their local area often simply through their office rather than any personal achievement. The news is full of stories of Bishops and Popes making great political statements as if they were still medieval political leaders ordering pawns around. Still today in our post-Christendom world, it is easy to see the minister as a bonafide VIP.
At College I have completed a module on Leadership, which is all about being a strong leader and persuading people to get on board with your unique vision (which as priest/minister only you can have apparently). The teaching was focused upon secular style leadership based upon the business and political world. It was all about leading the people who would be lost without your firm leadership and guidance.
Something seems to have gone drastically wrong.
The Christian minister’s call is to one of service. Those (un)lucky enough to be asked to become ministers are supposed to be the lowest members of their community. The primary role of a minister above all else is to simply serve the community they work in. Jesus said that we are NOT to be like the leaders of the world but that we must become the lowest of the low. How can we reconcile this calling to be servants whilst inhabiting positions of power?
The best way to reconcile this is to start to view the positions ministers hold with similar labels and positions as those in the BDSM world. Ministers are finding themselves put into positions that we would normally associate with Tops or Dom/mes, whilst they are often called as bottoms or subs. This is something I am wrestling with personally. My naturally submissive nature is being forced into a Top role that I am not used to inhabiting. I know that many people have no issue with inhabiting different roles and see no issue with being a bottom in the bedroom and a Top in the office or vice versa . I think the reason I am finding it difficult is because I have been called into this role, rather then choosing to enter it. It’s about being told to inhabit this role rather then choosing to that is key. I think this is where we can start to find a solution to our problem.
Ministers are called to be bottoms, submissives, and servants to their communities however, their communities are asking them to act like Tops and Dominants. One way submissive ministers can see their roles as tops in their communities could be by inhabiting the role of Service Top. A service top is someone who inhabits the top/dominant role in a scene for the benefit of others who want to be dominated. It’s common in switch relationships where both partners are submissive, or if a Dominant fancies a change and asks their sub to top them for a while. It is entirely possible for the person being serviced to still be in the “dominant” role directing how they are topped and is a way for the bottom to fulfill their submissive needs through providing a service for their Tops.
This is a good analogy for Christian leadership and ministry; people who are called to take the bottom role in society being told to inhabit the Top role whilst fulfilling the needs of those who have asked to be topped. This way the Christian community are receiving the leadership they want from a submissive person who is dedicated to serving the community they are dominating. It’s a tidy way to handle the paradox of servant leadership called for by Jesus and is a helpful way for naturally submissive ministers to come to terms with the leadership and dominating roles their ministry requires of them.
God bless the reverend Service Top.