Devotional - 2000-01-27 - Image is Not Everything
The Leadership Series, Part 2
John 13:3-5 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded (NAS)
Jesus Christ came to earth in the form of a helpless, tiny baby. He was born into this world in the same way as you and I were born into this world. It is beautiful moment when a child is born, no doubt. But it is proceeded by pain, sacrifice and stress that is well above normal. The events surrounding child birth, while common, are fraught with peril for both mother and child. Jesus willingly consented to become part of this process.
He is God from God, Light from Light - truly beyond our finite comprehension. His will manifest in His spoken word was the power behind the creation of the Universe from nothing. He is omnipotent, all-powerful beyond the mind of the creators of science fiction and time itself. To cloth Himself in the purest of light with a cascade of red giant and white dwarf stars is not beyond His capacity. Isaiah 40 tells us that He holds the universe in the span of His hand. At last check, that measures 12 billion light-years from the tip of His thumb to the tip of his smallest finger across the palm of His hand.
He raised Jairus' daughter and Lazarus from the clutches of death itself. He healed the sick and the lame and the deaf and the blind. He removed the curse of leprosy with a touch when it was forbidden to touch a leper. He wrote into the law thousands of years before, the requirements to restore someone cured of leprosy when it would not happen until that moment in time. He was the pillar of fire and the pillar of smoke that lead the Hebrew slaves from Egyptian captivity under Pharaoh. He was Melchizedek.
And yet, the Lord of Creation would be born as a baby, cared for by two very special parents. He would suffer the slings and experience the joys of childhood. He would be rejected by the leadership of the nation when He offered the nation the salvation, grace and mercy of the Father. He would be mocked, beaten, and scourged. He would have the beard ripped out of His face. His appearance would be so badly disfigured as to be unrecognizable as the face of a man. He would be unjustly sentenced to death by the creation He loved enough to lower Himself to go through this life to come and save.
And as if all that were not enough, the Master would humble Himself to take on the position of a naked slave to wash the feet of His friends at His final meal to teach us what it is to lead others.
Leadership is sacrifice and humility. It is prayer and patience and putting up with fully grown adults who squabble like two-year-olds. It is doing things that need to be done when one else follows, sees or cares. It means continuing when some may mock or may even angrily, actively resist your efforts to help them. Leadership is doing what must be done. Following the call of Christ to do something when no one else understands is not easy. It is waiting on God when others feel that something must be done, now. Without this kind of sacrificial leadership books go unwritten, prayer meetings and churches never start up, and lives are not touched by someone who cared enough to ask, "How are you? Can I help?"
If Jesus had not demonstrated this kind of sacrificial leadership, we would have no way back to God for salvation. We would be lost beyond rescue, bound for Hell and eternal separation from God with no hope. We often live with the mistaken idea that a leader is someone who 'has arrived'. They are living well and easy. If they are, they have paid the price to get there. And if they are living comfortably, they are mostly likely paying the price behind the scenes when no one sees. If people respect them enough to come to them with their troubles, it is because they know how to keep confidentiality. If the have answers, it is because they have lived the problems perhaps in a slightly different way. If they don't know, they will tell you so. A leader is a leader because he or she gives.
What you see out front is only their for the casual observer. The midnight oil, the continual conversation of prayer, and the thoughtful ear and constant heart of a student are the close companions of a leader. If you think you know it all, you have a least missed the fact that you don't know it all. If all you can remember is what you have said, stop talking and listen.
Lord Jesus - for those who feel the call to leadership be it in business, personal or spiritual capacities - let them know they have a cross to bear. And let them know if they will bear it, they are not out of Your favor when they struggle. They are simply a student in the school of this life in preparation for the next. Amen.
Grace & Peace,