Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Called to a higher standard: leaning to be a leader

I'm not crazy about being a leader, although leadership positions have been thrust upon me repeatedly over the years. It's not that I mind doing the work at all. The problem with leadership is that the leaders have to set the example. There's something about knowing your life is up for inspection that's hard to me.  I probably need the accountability, so it's actually a good thing.  It's dIfficult to think that people are looking to me for an example, and yet, I want to set the best one I can. I'm not sure if I would do anything differently if I weren't such a public figure, but it definitely makes me more aware of my behavior.

This afternoon, the whole topic of leaders who are not quite so concerned about setting the example came up. There was a situation where a leader wanted special treatment, and several of us were shocked. The phrase that was used was "leaders are called to a higher standard".  It's not exactly what James 3:1 says, but it certainly catches the spirit of the verse.  

"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." (James 3:1 NASB)

I've spent some time this evening considering what makes a good leader. The Leader I follow seems the best example of leadership, so I turned to Isaiah's description. 

"Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4, 5 NASB)

There's nothing about special privilege in these verses is there?  

"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you." (John 13:3-5, 15 NASB)

This passage in John is the Gold Standard for leadership. Jesus clearly knew Who He was and Whose He was. He knew where He was headed and how He would  get there. Despite all that, Jesus gathered up the wash basin and towel and started washing feet. He set the example for humility and for selfless service, and He instructed His disciples to do the same. 

This servant leader is the kind of leader Jesus expected His followers to be, and, as best I can tell, it is not optional. Every one of us is called to be a servant 
-leader who sets an example of selflessness, seeks to serve rather than be served, and who does the most menial task with love. 

Called to a higher standard? No doubt! We ARE called to a higher standard, and it's the standard of a Suffering Servant whose every action was governed by His great love for us. Is that how you serve those around you? If not, maybe it's time to don your apron, grab your basin, and start washing.