ED. NOTE: I’m reprinting this article, first published more than a year ago. I believe the message is as timely as ever. Your comments and opinions are always welcome. – Brother Dennis

Sheringham Hall, England

THE UPSHUR ANCESTRAL HOME in England — Sheringham Hall — stands to this day, surrounded by more than 800 acres of lush gardens, forests and fields. Once teeming with high-society folk, carriages coming and going, and throngs of servants waiting upon every need and whim of the householder, the property now belongs to a government trust. It remains a beautiful place, but the old glory is gone.

The Upshur family in America has a rich and well-documented history — one of landowners, military heroes, aristocrats and statesmen. They operated plantations on the choicest land in Virginia, endless fields brimming with slaves who gazed across the ocean toward Africa, longing for their far-off homes and families.

Vaucluse – Hungars Creek

Arthur Upshur arrived on the shores of Virginia around 1637, the forerunner of one of America’s most respected and influential early families. The family grew, prospered and built mansions with names like Warwick, Vaucluse, Rose Cottage and Quinby Place.

Vaucluse — the famous Upshur estate — is located on Hungars Creek, near Bridgetown, Northampton County, Virginia. Built in 1784, Vaucluse is today one of the showplaces of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.


The brick part of Warwick was built in 1672 by Arthur Upshur as his seat on 2,000 acres granted him by “Pyony, King of the Machipungoe” for “four good coats.”

Upshur was truly Lord of the Manor, and it seems that his sense of entitlement gave him free conscience to acquire 2,000 acres of prime forest, farm and oceanfront property from a Native American Chief for a few coats.

Abel Parker Upshur

This isn’t to say that aristocrats are necessarily evil people, but they have a certain bearing that never changes. They are not servants and never will be. They may serve on occasion — maybe even carry some sweet tea out to the slaves in the cotton fields — but they will never be servants. That just isn’t their place in life. They are Masters.

Early American "Servants"

Of course, people in charge need others to serve them, and that’s where the true servants come in.

Frequently we call them slaves, sometimes servants, often volunteers. Even Jesus knew that we’d always have the poor, because he understood that those in charge have an insatiable need to be served.

And it seems they’ll do most anything to ensure the steady supply of servants — from buying them, coercing them, deceiving them or just plain reminding them that their “station” in life is to submit to leadership so the greater good can be served. Of course, the “greater good” most often translates into what’s best for those on top.

The sad truth is that in the same way Masters have a bearing of entitlement, Slaves possess a bearing of servitude, acceptance and defeat. Slaves see themselves as slaves, and innately understand that their role in life is to serve those who lord it over them.

Just look at politicians and how they’ve become our masters — and all while telling us that they’re here to serve us! What a joke. Are they truly our servants?

The truth is, it’s always been like this. Master and slave. Rich and poor. Lord of the Manor and servant. This country was founded like all others — not on principles of equality, but on the backs of the shackled. Ask any Native American how he or she feels about our founders’ statement that “all men are created equal,” and I think they’d just laugh sadly, knowing that their people have paid dearly for not being as “equal” as the European invaders.

Genocide of the Indigenous

I think we’ve got to start asking ourselves why we continually allow ourselves to become enslaved to those who consider themselves rulers. Do we enjoy watching others benefit unfairly at our expense? Do you think in the end that “Pyony, King of the Machipungoe” was happy with the deal he got? How long did those four coats last? “How’s that working for ya’, King?” My guess is that he later resented the white man taking advantage of him, but by that time it was too late. The rich man had become Lord of the Manor, and he’d do whatever was required to protect it.

How does this translate into our life of following Jesus? Aren’t we supposed to become servants? In fact, yes. But the only way it works properly is if we all become servants. Otherwise, some of us have a knack for taking advantage of others. Jesus sets it out for us very clearly many times in the Gospels, but here’s just one passage:

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23

Jesus actually presents us with a pattern that’s upside-down from the world. He excoriates the religious leaders of the day for their arrogance and desire to use their position for their own gain. He even prophesies their downfall. But Jesus doesn’t say that we — His followers — should be on top. In fact, He says none of us should be called Rabbi — or Master — because “we are all brethren,” equal in the Kingdom of God.

Serve One Another

But wait, there is a way to be the greatest, and He points it out by saying that “the greatest among you shall be your servant.” That can be taken two ways: 1) If we become servants to others, than we will be judged greatest of all; or 2) The “greatest” among us — pastors, preachers, politicians, parents and potentates — are called to serve. Not to rule over others, but to truly give their lives for those “under them.”

Real problems arise in the Body of Christ when men set themselves up to be rulers, apostles, prophets, healers and “clergy.” They separate themselves from the common man and most people think it’s OK, because most of us just want to be humble and do the right thing, right?

Our honest desire to serve God can become misguided by unquestionably submitting to the authority over us, and often plays right into one of the fundamental weaknesses of mankind: pride, arrogance and the desire to gain power, prestige, recognition and this world’s goods.

If “we are all brethren” and none should be called Rabbi, as Jesus said, then why do we habitually cede so much power to those who neither deserve it nor need it? Why do we allow ourselves to be dominated, and then think it glorifies God?

It never glorifies God when a few benefit at the expense of the many. He does not like this. Was He pleased when the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites? Of course not! And when they were free, He didn’t even want them to have their own King. Why not? Because He wanted to be the only Master in their lives, and knew that any man ruling over them would be corrupted by that position. Did Paul make money on the Gospel? No. He worked for a living with his own hands, so that he would not be accused of acting improperly. Paul was a real leader, but truly became a servant to the early Church. Where did it all change?

Don’t get me wrong — the Body of Christ needs leaders, but with leadership comes an awesome responsibility. To become servants. Jesus set the example over and over again with His disciples, and that’s the pattern He expects us to follow. How can we call ourselves followers of Jesus if we refuse to do what He did? It just doesn’t make sense, does it?

How can “leaders” profit from the Gospel on the backs of all those “volunteers,” and honestly think they’re servants? If a politician or a preacher or a potentate says that they’re here to serve you, then you must ask yourself this:

Who's the Servant?

“If I’m in the field, day and night, sacrificing family, treasure, health and relationships for ‘the greater good’ and receive no earthly return (nor do I expect one) — but the Lord of the Manor sits in his position of prestige, power and prosperity, ruling over me and receiving the fruits of my labor — who is the true servant?”

The answer to that is an easy one, and the solution to the imbalance is also simple. Just follow Paul’s injunction to the Philippians:

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil. 2:1-8

We need serve only one Master.

And His name is Jesus.


Posted on May 6, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Dennis posted:

    Ask any Native American how he or she feels about our founders’ statement that “all men are created equal,” and I think they’d just laugh sadly, knowing that their people have paid dearly for not being as “equal” as the European invaders.

    Reading this caused me to do some research on the effect that ‘white christianity’ has played on many cultures. What I found surprised me.

    The man whom I frequently quote was also adversely affected. Gandhi spent many of his younger years as a Lawyer in South Africa. He spent much time in the Scripture, and embraced Christ and the Apostles’ writings. One Sunday morning Mr. Gandhi started up the steps of a local Church building only to encounter a tall beefy white man who simply asked “Where do you think you’re going, Kaffir?”

    At this Mr. Gandhi said, “I would like to worship in this church.”

    The man said, “You’ll not step foot in this church, Kaffir and if you don’t leave, my friends and I will toss you down these steps.”

    This was the tipping point for Mr. Gandhi. At this point he said that he would continue to love Jesus and His teachings, but not embrace the Church that calls itself Christian.

    It was reported that the first time Gandhi walked through the Vatican he did not look at any of the art work or the architecture. He moved through the halls until he came upon a life-sized figure of Christ on the cross. At this place, Mr. Gandhi fell to his knees and wept.

    Sorry if this is just a random post. Just found it interesting.

  2. The point still remains open after all of this talk about ‘leader, head, ruling elder or lead pastor’. Where does this ‘office’ exist in the New Testament as we see it today in the ‘modern church’? Even so, where does the term OFFICE even appear in its present text ?
    The term ‘gift’ has been perverted into the word ‘office’. If a person is gifted in a specific area by the Holy Spirit how does this gift morph itself into an office of authority?
    Jesus came to break down the authority structure so that all men lived and walked on an ‘even’ playing field and He is our only and final authority.
    Furthermore, if a man is a gifted teacher, why does he use the term pastor?
    Teacher and Pastor are two different gifts, yet in the West we are told that these are the same because the pastor is the teacher.
    Hum…something just don’t seem right here !

    The “SYSTEM” and authority structure that is alive today will never be ‘re-aligned’ until people dissent and question these leaders who believe that they hold these positions.

    I was very surprised to find that a friend of ours who wanted to leave a church set up a meeting with the “ruling Elder / Pastor / Teacher” to ask for permission to be released. Come on people, this is not the Spirit of Christ but a spirit of control. And shame on the leaders who believe that they have the authority over people to determine if they stay or go.
    Yours is a ‘GIFT’ freely given to you to EDIFY the Body of Christ, not to use as a rule or authority over the Body.

    Finally, I agree with Vagabond, nothing will change without full on dissent at all cost. The ‘system’ is becoming oppressive to believers and that deserves all of our attention and all of our effort. Dissenting used to break down the walls of oppression and authority in order to return to the solid foundation of the Truth.


  3. Henry David Thoreau says in Civil Disobedience:

    “William Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the ‘Duty of Submission to Civil Government,’ resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say, ‘that so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that is, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniency, IT IS THE WILL OF GOD THAT THE ESTABLISHED GOVERNMENT BE OBEYED…'”

    hmmm…sounds familiar of some present teachings in some churches… resistance against “the established government” (the “leadership” or “lords”) = “absalom spirit.”

    Thoreau goes on to say about Paley, “But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases…in which a people, as well as an individual, MUST DO JUSTICE, COST WHAT IT MAY.”

    if somethin isn’t right, it is our DUTY to SPEAK UP and even LEAVE BEHIND our places of authority NO MATTER WHAT THE COST!

    He says a little later on in Civil Disobedience that “ACTION from principle, (the perception and the performance of RIGHT), changes things and relations; it is essentially REVOLUTIONARY, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divides STATES and CHURCHES, it divides FAMILIES; aye, it divides the INDIVIDUAL, SEPARATING THE DIABOLICAL IN HIM FROM THE DIVINE.”

    …no matter the cost, do what is right. if it’s the revolution against injustice that “divides,” then isn’t it really the injustice that is creating the division?

    “If the injustice is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say BREAK THE LAW. Let your life be a counter friction to STOP THE MACHINE.”

  4. wow. powerful point. those that have been given much need to serve much. if we all dont become servants, we have no right to wear the name of christ. no leader or person in power is exempt from this.

  5. Dennis says: “Jesus actually presents us with a pattern that’s upside-down from the world.”

    So why then do we have authority systems set up to mirror the world?

  6. glad to be aboard the s.s. revolution! and i’m glad we’re aimin for a revolution, not just a revolt!

    found this differentiation between the two:

    A revolt may take place somewhere for a particular reason usually to show disgust and as a way to protest about something and for a brief period of time. Revolutions are more radical and often shake the whole country. (or society, or ‘the church,’ or ‘christianity’ as we know it, or ‘lordship’…)

    “Is it a rebellion?” asked Louis XVI of the count who informed him of the fall of the Bastille.

    “No, sire,” came the reply. “It is a revolution.”

    Vive La Revolución!

    (oh wait, that’s french! can i take that back and stick with my freedom fries?)

  7. More like a Revolution, Vagabond. Glad to have you aboard!

  8. Every created being in the form of a human being, who has a mind, who has reached maturity mentally and physically, who is free and heard the Call – is tasked to be, is obliged to be, is in need to be, is sentenced to be a servant.

    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

    “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

    It is so clear throughout history that we are all called to serve those less fortunate as an act of service to our Maker. Religious sect, denomination or faith does not matter. This is supposed to be a basic tenet of faith, Religion 101. James, the brother of Jesus made it clear when he said that “true religion was taking care of the widows and orphans.”

  9. Thanks Big D. As your whole family and good friends know, you have been our “family historian” and helped us to learn and cherish the Upshur heritage even more.
    You aren’t afraid to couple that with a healthy balance of honesty and truth, as you share your convictions and bring insight for those of us that love to see more freely and clearly.

  10. another post about bein a servant and people’s desires to follow masters? are you tryin to start a revolt?

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