Lead Like Jesus not like Caesar

If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, then his way of being describes what good shepherding looks like.

Let’s sit with that for just another second.

If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, then his way of being describes what good shepherding looks like.

If Jesus is our king, then his way of being describes what authority looks like in the Church.

When Jesus says, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” It’s reasonable to suppose that he actually means it.

So when leaders in a church denomination or network or even a local church practice an approach to leadership that can easily be described as “lording it over” their constituency, it’s not orthopraxy – it’s not behaving like Jesus nor how Jesus describes the way to those who follow him.

The response of such leaders is often the appeal to Scripture, “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” Or “Everyone must submit to governing authorities.” And they insist that their un-Christlike behavior is immaterial and your unwillingness to follow their un-Jesus like way is the real problem, the real act of disobedience, the true rebellion against the authority of God.

One of the great conundrums of Jesus is that greatness in the kingdom is found in humility – both in practice and in attitude. By greatness, in this context, Jesus means authority, means position, means status. Just like the first being last, the meek inheriting the earth, greatness in the kingdom is not found in exerting power over but in demonstrating a willingness to lay down earthly ideas or claims to power and instead empower those around you to achieve God’s purpose for their lives.

When Jesus came preaching repentance, he meant for us to stop thinking about the kingdom of God like we think of other kingdoms – change your mind – this is a kingdom of another kind.

This matters because God, in Jesus, describes a world in which the means and the ends can never be separated. The way the kingdom comes is the kingdom that is coming.

Always.

It’s a root and fruit thing.

It’s a “the atmosphere you permit is the product you create” kind of deal.

Early on in marriage I learned that giving my wife what I think she needs is seldom, if ever, life giving or beneficial to our relationship. For the sake of the well-being of others and their formation as the beloved community of Jesus, imposing my will never helps people grow up – even if they thank me for telling them what to do or giving them a good spanking or for bossing them around. There is a strong temptation in leadership to take the easiest or most direct path to achieve the goals that seem most obvious to those of us privileged to set the goals – but this doesn’t help anyone grow up or become their authentic self – individuals or local churches.

Leadership of a network, a movement or even a local church looks more like an invitation than a demand, an opportunity rather than a compulsion, a partnership rather than a hierarchy – if it means to follow the way of Jesus.

The way of love is never “me first” or “my way or the highway.” Love enacted in leadership doesn’t just create an email address for you to send in your suggestions but it invites you to the table, makes space for you and empowers you. Love never protects the institution, Jesus didn’t die for institutions, love protects the beloved community and the individuals who make it up. Treating people like widgets is one of the most anti-Christ demonstrations of leadership administration in the world today.

Jesus has always offered us a better way. A slower way. A way that looks – in the end – less like I wanted it to look but more like the beloved community of Jesus is meant to be.

Published by APastor'sStory

Trying to squeeze this life for all the juice I can get out of it.

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