John 13: 10-17 (MsgB)
Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table. Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
When it comes to servanthood, the bar has been established. The standard set. Jesus says it, Himself. ‘I’ve laid down a pattern for you.”
So now, the question remains.
How low can you and I go in following Jesus’ lead?
In a world where climbing the ladder of success is the way, truth and life, Jesus’ sets a whole new standard. In one short evening, the Son of God has ripped up the world’s playbook on successful leadership and brings a whole new way of defining the life that really counts. The life that will be truly blessed.
Servanthood. Preferring others to self. Living our lives in ways that others will be blessed for Jesus’ sake, even if it means me losing things that are dear to me. Stooping low when everybody else is standing on their tippy-toes seeking the approval of others. Staying quiet when everyone else wants the microphone. Removing yourself from the competition when others are pushing to be at the front of the crowd.
Servanthood. Jesus style.
Unfortunately, many religious folks have taken Jesus’ example of washing the disciples’ feet and made it into some holy activity to be done at the end of our leadership seminars. In other words, we go on and on about how we as leaders can become successful by following patterns set by world standards and then at the end of it all, we wash one another’s feet as a ‘sign’ that we will follow in Jesus’ footsteps. To that kind of model, I politely say, bah-hum-bug.
It’s time the church toss out all the models of leadership that have been birthed out of corporate America and return to the truth Jesus states here. Those who will ‘lead’ in Jesus’ Name will end up becoming the lowliest of all.
When was the last time, for example, we in Christian leadership circles, spent time at a leadership conference humbling ourselves before our Lord in true repentance? When was the last time you heard a leader say he or she was sorry for the way they were operating their church or ministry out of human drive and ambition? When was the last time you saw a leader prefer another leader over themselves?
Well, enough of this finger-pointing.
I must admit that even my finger-pointing forsakes the high call of servanthood as Jesus defines it here.
No, my friends. It’s in repentance, quietness and rest, my salvation will be found. (see Isaiah 30: 15) Quiet, humble servanthood. Servanthood that is still…knowing that He is the great I AM while I am the little quiet one who follows the Master wherever He might go.
Now that’s a model I believe Jesus might like to see in me today.
How about you?
My prayer: Now that the standard has been set, Holy Spirit empower and indwell me so that I might find myself willing and able to bow low in my role as humble leader and servant to all. Show me, Lord, when I step outside this model, using my drive and personal ambition to elevate myself above others. May humility and kindness be my calling card. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where am I guilty of taking Jesus’ ‘example’ of washing the feet of others and making it an outward sign of humility while still being driven by fleshly motivators inside me? What practical ways might I find myself willing to stay low to the ground today, humbly serving the Master with no need for public recognition or winning the approval of others?
So what is God speaking to you today as we follow Jesus the Nazarene, the Leader of the Church?
Between now and the end of 2015, we will be sharing with you a blog series we first developed in 2013. We call it Follow The Leader: Re-defining Successful Leadership from the Gospel of John. In order to keep all 46 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Follow The Leader home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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