Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Deeper Discipleship

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is Mark 10:17-22.  A wealthy man approaches Jesus with great respect and asks what he must do to have the abundant life Jesus has been preaching about.  Jesus reminds him of the commandments, but the man claims to have followed them since childhood.  Jesus looks him in the eye and something changes.  Mark tells us that Jesus loved him in this moment, so he invites him to sell all of his belongings, and follow him.  He invites him to become a disciple.  All of the other disciples had to do the same thing in order to follow Jesus.  They dropped their nets, left their family, and followed Jesus.  In this case, the man could not do it.  The scriptures tell us that he had a lot of wealth, a lot he was unwilling to let go of.  He left that encounter disappointed, because the cost of discipleship was too great.  I notice that Jesus starts with the law as the answer to the question, almost giving a basic book answer.  It is only after