Awhile back I referenced this quote from Colin Powell regarding his bias towards the “guys in the field.” I’ve been asked what biblical principle was behind my thinking.
The biblical principle I was referring to is that those in a stronger position are to use their greater strength (position, power, authority, or even money, though that’s not in view in this post) on behalf of those in a weaker position.
That’s what we see in the example of Christ. Christ has all strength, power, and authority, and uses it to serve those who have less. Hence, he came to save us, and then also gave us that principle to govern all of our leadership (Matthew 20:25-28; John 13:12-20). We also see this throughout the OT–the “righteous” and “just” are viewed not just as those who avoid doing deliberate harm to people, but those who use their resources, power, and authority to stand up for those in lesser positions–especially the weak and mistreated. Paul also bases his argument in 2 Corinthians 8 on these things.
So, how do these principles apply to the specific case of the post? In a ministry or any organization, those in top leadership have certain advantages–more authority, more power, and so forth. Those beneath them have less advantages–they don’t have the same authority to carry out their thinking, for example, and aren’t in on all the leadership meetings, and so have less opportunity to be heard, just by the nature of things.
Hence, Christian leaders ought to seek to compensate for this by giving preference to those who are in lesser positions of formal authority. This will often result in the best insights (though, of course, not always).
Note that I’m not saying here we should be partial. You assess people’s ideas and actions truthfully–based on the merits. What I’m saying is that we should go out of our way to give a greater opportunity for those in lesser positions of authority to be heard. And, along with that, usually those who are closer to the action (in Powell’s quote, those in the field) have more accurate information and so are likely to have informed, good ideas.