Tag Archives: leadership

Jesus as Servant

Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet

The Republican National Convention is about to get started, and we will hear from some of our neighbors about the kind of leadership they yearn for in our country. The Democrats will do the same next week.

I’m actually intrigued as this could be a fruitful backdrop to our conversation on Sunday about servant leadership.

Regardless of where you stand in the political spectrum, leadership is a necessity for any organization or government. The best leaders tend to transcend partisanship and cast vision on a direction forward into an uncertain future. We definitely need that here in the USA. I know other nations are struggling with leadership vacuums, so it’s not just a local issue.

But there are different kinds of leaders.

From a Christian perspective, the most central to which we are called as people of faith is servant leadership. And boy, this is a tough one. Servant leadership is not necessarily intuitive in a culture that emphasizes individuality, ambition, and consumerism. Servant leadership is Jesus, taking a bowl of water and a linen towel, kneeling at his student’s feet and washing them one at a time, wordlessly. It is firm but quiet, strong but humble, empowering but vulnerable. It is Jesus saying that if you want to be first, you must be last.

I’m wrestling with the idea that servant leadership could be an antidote to a chaotic, me-first, divisive culture and world. Instead of drowning out our opponents or bringing the biggest stick to the fight, we’d bring different kinds of tools – towels, brooms, open ears, and gentle hands. That may seem soft, and yet it was the Jesus way.

Henry Nouwen once wrote in A Reflection of the Christian Life:

“Our God is a servant God. It is difficult for us to comprehend that we are liberated by someone who became powerless, that we are being strengthened by someone who became weak, that we find new hope in someone who divested himself of all distinctions, and that we find a leader in someone who became a servant.”

Would I like to see a servant leader as president? Sure. Will it likely happen? No. Do I meet servant leaders in my church and community everyday? Absolutely. In fact, I wonder if their work may be more impactful than any servant leader president could ever hope to be.

Dom Hélder Camara, late Brazilian Archbishop, put it this way, in another great quote:

“…Let no one be scandalized if I frequent
Those who are considered unworthy
Or sinful. Who is not a sinner?
Let no one be alarmed if I am seen
With compromised and dangerous people,
On the left or the right,
Let no one bind me to a group.
My door, my heart, must be open
To everyone, absolutely everyone.”

(Don’t be surprised if you find some of these quotes in my sermon on Sunday!)

To sum all of this up, Jesus as a servant leader is fascinating and mystifying. May such an image challenge us as followers to be servants to those we meet. May it shake us from seeing leadership as only about well-written speeches, perfect hair, well-groomed campaign positions, and youthful running mates. May it move us to align ourselves to the way of Jesus and the way of the cross.

See you Sunday!

The youth gave everyone stoles!

Stoles from the EDCC Youth

Today was Graduation/Youth Sunday at church. It was awesome. Our youth took control, wrote their own prayers, spoke their own messages of challenge, and even gave everyone a stole to wear to remind each of us how we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. Great word! I am proud of our graduating seniors and all of our young leaders and hope we can continue to hear their voices calling us to make a different world.

When have you felt called? Do you need a reminder? We’ll be posting the service on Youtube later this week.

Jesus as Messiah

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday at the Table, and during worship, we will explore Jesus as Messiah. Messiah means “anointed”. It comes from the Hebrew Bible originally as a way to talk about those who would eventually become kings and had been anointed by prophets (or God) to lead God’s people. The Gospels in the New Testament seem to paint a broad picture of people hungry for a messiah, an anointed one to come and throw off the yoke of the Roman empire. This is all fueled by the prophets of the Old Testament who spoke of a suffering servant or fulfillment of God’s plan in a person who would restore Israel’s fortunes and bring about restoration (spiritually and politically).

Wow, I know that’s a lot of words.

In a sense, I break it down like this:

  • The people had expectations for this person who was going to change their situation. I see parallels in the way we look to others to solve our problems or give us wisdom to live our lives by. A Messiah, in our modern day, could easily be a politician, preacher, spouse, boss, family member, product inventor, salesperson, or activist.
  • The challenge with a messiah is that such a person was called by God not the people. In other words, their agenda is likely different than the people’s expectations. Like an elected official who votes for a bill that his constituents are against (even if it makes sense and is helpful to those they serve), these conflicting realities rarely lead to good times.
  • If someone we pick as a messiah to save our college basketball program, church, organization, business, city, or country doesn’t live up to expectation, it’s pretty easy for us to latch on to a new messiah and toss the old one out. However, if we keep doing that, we are likely to go nowhere. It’s not that we need to put up with bad leadership – it’s sometimes not the leader that is the problem.
  • Jesus was a weird Messiah anyway. He was clear with his disciples that he was going to be put to death by the hands of the empire and the people. Still, no one seemed to get it. They were so eager to put their own expectations on him, that they failed to listen and realize the deeper thing Jesus was about – ushering in a new reality, a new kingdom, on earth. Like the clip above, did those crowds listen or did they hear what they wanted to hear?
  • Finally, Jesus’ parade (or death march) ultimately led to a confrontation of all that is evil and all that is broken about the human condition and our world. Kind of funny that few people seemed to think of that as something their messiah might be about… and yet, isn’t it a lot better than just overthrowing an empire?

If you want to join the conversation tomorrow with some of your own questions or perspectives, join us tomorrow at the Table, 9:30 AM, in the Community Room.

It’s Youth Sunday!

Celebrate with our graduates and our youth!

Celebrate Youth

This Sunday at the Table, we welcome our youth leaders to lead us in worship at the Table. In particular, we honor two of our high school seniors who are graduating but share in the gifts and talents of others who are going to be speaking and dancing in the midst of worship. How cool is that?

The Table is a multi-generational worship community. We want young people to come, but we know folks of all ages enjoy the energy and vibrancy of our worship. This Sunday, we’ll all share in our celebration of youth, both their leadership and witness to us today and their promise for years yet to come.


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