After that He poureth water in a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. . . . For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (John 13:5, 15)
There is a certain concept of leadership that is faulty, or at least, incomplete.
It is the idea that leaders are mainly the visible and popular individuals, who are behind the podium, on the platform, speaking into the microphone. Often we see these people interviewed by the media, followed by crowds, and living in opulence. Unconsciously, we can adopt the common opinion that they are the image of leadership and generally define what it is.
Now I am not questioning that they are leaders. They usually are, for good or bad. But if we take a closer look at the matter in the Bible, we will discover that the real thing goes a lot deeper.
Take this passage in which Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, undeniably one of the noblest scenes of servanthood in all of Scripture:
The Savior saw a need and moved. His action spoke of initiative, of resourcefulness, and wisdom. It was stepping out to do what needed doing, regardless of whether others followed suit, agreed, or even understood what was going on.
That is exactly what a leader does.
He is one who assesses the situation in front of him and moves. With that movement, he instantly steps into a role of influence and becomes an example to follow: a leader.
It is significant that the Lord chose to act out this lesson Himself, rather than just refer to an Old Testament example. He took off His outer garments, rolled up his sleeves (so to speak), and started serving. The shock, bewilderment, and embarrassment this created among the Twelve was instantaneous. The Man now washing their feet was the Word, who according to this same Gospel, had created everything! They were scandalized, wondering how they had allowed the situation to come to this.
Quite in sync with his personality, Peter put up a fuss.
But the Lord did not back down. Why not? Was it just that He didn’t want to give in? Was He trying to shame them into service?
Clearly those were not His reasons. I believe He was trying to teach us all something extremely important about the very nature of godliness.
In Heaven, the dwelling place of the Most High, that ideal atmosphere where the Almighty lives, we will find serving others to be a part of the beautiful essence of the land. On this earth, where sin has warped human thinking, service is seen to be the career of the under-privileged, the lower class, the common man.
Who knows? Maybe in glory the Son of God will at times serve His disciples, as the eternal and perfect example of the way things really are. I don’t think we should be too surprised.
Remember, He does not change.
One double thought I believe is clear: we are all called to serve, and we are all called to lead.
Dear Father, give me a love for service. Help me see it as a privilege and act of obedience of the first order. Thank you for serving me even today as You intercede for me before the Father. I praise you for being so humble, so good, so consistent. Amen.