Sunday, May 5, 2013

Random Thoughts on Leadership

Recently, Philip and I were asked to pray about a certain leadership role. For the briefest of moments, I
Hiking to a waterfall while visiting Philip's brother and his family.
panicked. Holy cow, that's scary! That would mean we would be in a position over all those people that I respect! Almost immediately I realized the flaw in my panic. Oops, leadership is a bottom-up position, not a top-down position. That would mean I would be in a position to better serve those people I respect. Hmm. Better perspective. Here’s what I mean:

In Matthew 20, two of Jesus’ followers had just approached Him and asked to rank themselves higher than the other 10 followers. Jesus responds,“You know that the rulers of the [non-Jews] lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave...”

In so many instances, people view leadership as something to hold over someone’s head: I’m in charge so you make my life more comfortable. I’m the top-dog, so you do the dirty work. You’re beneath me, so you do as I say. I’m the boss, so cooperate with me. Ever heard anyone say that? Ever encounter someone with that attitude? Yup, me too.

Here’s the problem. That’s not the kind of leader we’re told to be. That’s not the kind of leader Jesus modeled for us. And that’s not the kind of leader people like to follow.

One of the most well known passages in the Bible about leadership is what I quoted earlier from Matthew chapter 20. Jesus is saying not to be snobby about your position over those that follow, but to serve them. Weird, huh? It’s so opposite of what the rest of the world would tell us.

You've heard the old adage: “do as I say, not as I do”? Jesus wasn’t like that. He always had time for people. He valued children. He ate with the outcasts of society. He showed mercy. He was patient. He was always ready to teach. He did not regard social class. He was not defensive or advance His own agenda. He perfectly carried out the responsibilities given Him, even a HUGE personal cost. He took the jobs that were “beneath” Him. He loved the unlovable. He was not demeaning. He freely gave of Himself. He was not swayed by the political and social pressures of the time. He could not be manipulated or bribed. He was perfect. All the time.

Now, that’s one awesome leader to follow, isn’t it? And one huge job to imitate.

Just before Jesus’ death, He was having a meal with His followers. Now, there was no pavement on the roads, only dirt with open sewers. By the time the dinner guests arrived at their host’s home, slaves would have to wash and dry the guest’s grime-tainted feet. Glamorous job? But that is exactly the job that Jesus took on Himself. Yes, He was Lord, the great Teacher, the Messiah, the Son of God, all powerful. He was the Eternal God in the flesh! But He chose to lay aside His rights and privileges, and wash poop off sweaty feet. After this poignant example, He gives His followers one of the most convicting statements in all of Scripture: “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (John 13).

A slave is not greater than his master. My master, my Lord, my God is indeed this Jesus who died so I could live. I am not entitled to any more than He had, regardless of my “position” here on earth.

Philippians 2 also makes the point: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Hummingbird sticking out his tongue.

Be like Jesus who made Himself nothing, making Himself lower than everyone else, even to the extent of unjustly dying a criminal’s death. That is a tough calling. A tough commandment. A tough example to follow. But it is our standard that we are given by One who did it first and showed us how it looks.

Nope, I most certainly do NOT get it right all the time. In fact, I fall flat on a regular basis and will continue to do so. I’m still human. However, human-ness aside, it remains the command. I must follow.

(We have not made a decision yet, but continue to pray about the opportunity before us. In the meantime, the weight of Christ’s calling and example is certainly foremost in my mind, regardless of the decision we make.)

1 comment:

  1. "That would mean I would be in a position to better serve those people I respect"
    Thanks for the reminder and challenge Anna! I'm trying to make a decision also about a ministry position and whether or not maybe now may be the right time to take it on (it hasn't worked out in the past). I really appreciate you sharing your heart. <3 praying for you guys!