It is easy for us to get sucked into the cultural, and many times un-biblical, way of thinking about positions of authority. Yet, Jesus challenges His followers to be different than others. His challenge is that great leadership is built upon great “servantship!”
This week, in our “Life Lessons” series, Pastor Zac challenged us in the area of leadership from John 13. This passage has to be the most significant passage on Jesus modeling true leadership. If you are a little foggy on what Jesus did, it is the account of Jesus washing His follower’s feet. What a challenge to them and to us today… to make serving others a priority.
The passage takes place in the context of His last Passover meal. It was after the meal that Jesus proceeded to take off his outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, and then proceeded to wash His follower’s feet. Jesus was not instituting a new practice for the church but rather taking an existing practice and using it as a living illustration of how to be a great leader. The passage seems to suggest that Jesus was trying to shape His men in one of His last times with them. The lesson they needed to learn was one of servant leadership. His performing the task of a lowly slave would illustrate to His men something that was foreign to their cultural view of leadership and ours, the importance of serving others. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14–15).
We must be careful not to allow the cultural views of leadership to undermine the Biblical teaching on leadership. First Jesus reminds us that we are not called to be served, but to serve. This means doing the tasks that others do not want to do, or even the ones that we do not want to do. It means doing these things without expecting recognition or commendation. It means going out of our way to be a help and blessing to others. This can mean responding to a request for help from our spouse immediately. It could also include making time to help a neighbor with a need. It would also include faithfully doing those things that others don’t or haven’t done.
The key to servant leadership is humility. It begins by finding our value and worth in our relationship with Christ rather than our position over others. Jesus was a master at this because He did not need the praise of men. He did not need to prove anything. That allowed him to do what needed to be done. The same is true for you and I. A person that becomes a great servant of others will become a great leader. So what about you? What is one practical way that you could follow Jesus’ actions by serving those in your home, church, work or neighborhood?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson