1Kings 12: If you will be a servant to this people…they’ll end up doing anything for you.
Solomon gets all the credit for his impressive and massive construction projects, but he probably never did an ounce of actual labor. The common people did the hard work. Now that Solomon’s son Rehoboam is assuming the throne the people ask for relief. I know how this turns out, but I can’t help but note the wisdom of his father’s senior advisors in this. They recommend that Rehoboam be a servant to the people; that he respond with compassionate consideration, showing them respect. The result, they say, will be that he’ll get his own way. That is, they’ll work themselves to death for him. Centuries before Jesus tells his disciples that the greatest should be servant of all, these advisors tell Rehoboam the same thing. This principle applies across the spectrum. It works at national leadership levels, in business, and, yes, in the church as well. Rehoboam doesn’t get it and ends up with a rebellion on his hands. The same thing happens in other applications as well. The best leaders are servant-leaders.
Take Away: Good leaders understand the servant-leadership concept and practice it.
Peter, stop arguing!
John 13: Why can’t I follow now?
It’s Thursday night before Jesus is arrested. He and his disciples are in the Upper Room and Jesus is in the role of servant, washing their feet. He comes to Peter, but Peter resists, declaring “You’re not going to wash my feet – ever!” Jesus, though, persists telling Peter that if he won’t allow this that he’ll have no part in what Jesus has come to do. Peter decides to give in, but if that’s how it is, he has a better idea. He wants Jesus to wash his hands and head as well. Once again, our Lord holds steady, explaining that it’s foot washing that Peter needs and it’s foot washing that he’s going to get. Then, the meal ended, Jesus tenderly commands his disciples to love one another. This, he says, will be their primary, distinguishing characteristic. As Jesus is stating these words, Peter’s focus is on what Jesus said earlier. He ignores the teaching concerning mutual love and wants to know where Jesus is going. The Lord patiently responds, telling Peter that someday he’ll follow but not right now. Peter is having none of that. “Why later? Why not now?” he demands. Then he adds, “I’ll lay down my life for you.” At this point, Jesus has had enough of Peter’s approach. Even as he declares his allegiance to the Lord his responses are always that he knows better than Jesus. At this point Jesus tells him that big time failure is coming to him, and soon. I don’t know whether to smile at Peter’s “Lord, I love you but I know better than you” approach or if I should wince and remember the times I’ve blundered ahead of the Lord thinking I knew what to do without asking him. How often do my actions betray the truth that I think I know better than God?
Take Away: A part of following Jesus is admitting that he’s smarter than we are.