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Servant Leadership - John 13

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, - Matthew 20:26

I remember my first pastoral job.  I was hired on as the children & youth pastor of a small church in South Carolina.  The senior pastor told me a story about his mentor in ministry.  Their church had a toilet that was always getting clogged, and it became my senior pastor's job to unclog it after almost every use.  At some point he realized that the church had the money to fix it.  One day he became frustrated after trying to clean up a pretty serious clog that happend moments before he was expected to preach.  He asked his mentor why he didn't have it fixed.  His mentor told him that it served as a good reminder of what servant leadership looked like.  As a result, one of my jobs at that church was to clean the bathrooms.  

Pretty early in my time at LifeJourney Church I realized I was in a good place.  Early one morning before people began to arrive I noticed Pastor Jeff in his suit with a snow shovel in hand.  As he walked outside I peeked around the corner and saw that he was indeed taking care of ice and snow on the walkway in his shiny shoes.   

Our reading this week is chapter 13 of the Gospel of John.  In this chapter Jesus is getting ready to eat the last supper with his disciples.  Just before the meal he wraps himself in a towel and proceeds to wash the disciples feet.  This was a job that was usually reserved for the lowest servants.  Peter resisted because the image of his Rabbi washing his feet was too much, but he allowed it after Jesus insisted.  Jesus used this experience to teach his disciples that the values of the world are backwards, that those who lead should be servants, and that if they wish to lead in his kingdom, they must be servants to all.  Jesus then gave them a new commandment, to love each other as he had loved them.  The chapter ends with Jesus predicting the betrayal of Judas, his own death, and the denial of Peter.  

Jesus modeled what it meant to be a servant, not just during this meal, but his whole life.  God incarnate healing and serving the least of these is the image of leadership that should be ingrained in our mind.  The values of this world are upside down, far too often we look for strength and charisma in our leaders, but we should really be looking for those who serve.  I am thankful to have had several good examples of servant leadership in my life, and I hope some of it has rubbed off on me.  

God, help us to serve like Jesus.  Help us to set aside our pride and our ego so that we may serve better.  Help this world to adopt the values of your kingdom and begin electing and seeking leaders that are servants first.  Amen.


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