Are you a leader in God’s Kingdom work? Has God invited you to be a leader in His work to help others find and follow His Son, Jesus? The principles of leadership come from our Master, Jesus Christ who came to earth to show us the “full extent of His love” along with how to serve. He is the God who washes feet! Wait, what?! How counter culture, how weird, how out-of-this-world is this kind of thinking and behaving? When we are called to lead, God is calling and equipping us to serve with the mind of Christ, His Son. What is the mind of Christ, we ask? Let’s quickly review what Jesus said and did while on earth.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” –Jesus, Mark 10:45, NIV
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” –what Jesus did to show his love, even to his enemy, John 13:1-5, NIV
“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
–Who Jesus was, is and always will be so we would know how to imitate him, Philippians 2:1-8, NIV
Because of showing us how to serve by His extreme example of setting aside his position, power and glory due him for the salvation of mankind, God raised Jesus to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords forevermore. Jesus is who we imitate. He loved and served. As believers and followers, we love and serve. It’s in our DNA.
With these thoughts in mind, Paul tells the Corinthians church directly and clearly who real leaders are and who they are not. This is a great lesson in loving, servant leadership.
CORINTHIANS—CALLED AND SENT
1 Corinthians 4, The Message
1-4 Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s divine secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much. The Master makes that judgment.
5 So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of—inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.
6 All I’m doing right now, friends, is showing how these things pertain to Apollos and me so that you will learn restraint and not rush into making judgments without knowing all the facts. It’s important to look at things from God’s point of view. I would rather not see you inflating or deflating reputations based on mere hearsay.
7-8 For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. Without bringing either Apollos or me into it, you’re sitting on top of the world—at least God’s world—and we’re right there, sitting alongside you!
9-13 It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around. Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.” When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, the leftovers that nobody wants. And it’s not getting any better.
14-16 I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold to shame you. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself.
17 This is why I sent Timothy to you earlier. He is also my dear son, and true to the Master. He will refresh your memory on the instructions I regularly give all the churches on the way of Christ.
18-20 I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don’t think I’ll ever show up in person. But I’ll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we’ll see if they’re full of anything but hot air. God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.
21 So how should I prepare to come to you? As a severe disciplinarian who makes you walk the line? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you? You decide.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
Servant Leadership: Leaders in God’s kingdom are servants of those who need to know Jesus. They humbly bow to Him and ask for direction and then do what God says. They are all in, heart, mind and soul.
- Servant leaders are guides, not security guards.
- Servant leaders come alongside those they lead.
- Servant leaders don’t ask anyone to do what they themselves aren’t willing to do.
- Servant leaders know all believers are on equal ground with God through Jesus.
- Comparisons are pointless.
- Servant leaders live in “the midst of frailties and uncertainties”.
- Servant leaders serve their enemies. “God bless you” is the heart-felt response as opposed to retaliation when attacked.
- Servant leaders want to grow and become more mature by Jesus’ example.
- Servant leaders desire the mind of Christ daily.
- Servant leaders know God and want what God wants for each day they serve on this earth.
“God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.”
Empower my life with all of you in me. Enlarge your work of salvation in your servant. I desire what you want me to be and do today and forever, but let’s concentrate on today. Give us this day all you know I will need to serve well.
In Jesus Name, Amen