It has come up a lot this week, but I want to go back to some of the principles brought out in last week’s lesson in regard to the notion of “dying to self”, but specifically in the area of “leadership with grace.”
When we think of leadership we think of delegation. It is a matter of getting the right people with the right talents in the right place and getting them the resources and direction needed to excel. You divide things into a grid, make nice little boxes on the org chart and fill those boxes.
Using a tool analogy, you look for the right people to fit into the right holes. The position of the leader is above, putting together the pieces, but also using coaching and incentives and constructive feedback to shape the person to better fit the hole, sanding off some rough edges or cutting off bad habits or gluing on some training.
But the position Jesus demonstrates for the disciples and for us to follow is more. He is not simply up above arranging the pieces, but he also takes on the role of forklift or jack, to raise up those he leads. He doesn’t just look at the outside, but works on the inside. He isn’t about hammering someone into a position, but in lifting them up to do more and greater.
This is a hard example to swallow for a leader because it means you are constantly helping lift people to move on. You are developing people not to stay in a role, but to go out into new roles. You are preparing the members of the church to leave and start new churches, to be missionaries, to go be leaders. You are shaping your employees to become managers themselves in other organizations. This is more work for the leader. It seems easier to just hold onto the same people and keep them in the same roles – but that is how all oppression begins, by leaders doing the easier thing instead of the right thing. Dying to self doesn’t just mean giving up your time, it means giving up your people, too. It means growing your kids to go out in the world and be their own followers of Jesus. It means constantly opening your circle of friends and associates rather than settling in with the same old small group. It means paying the price with your work for someone else to grow and be lifted up.
But isn’t that what grace is all about? I’ve heard the acronym that grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Jesus paid it all, we reap the rewards of being lifted up to holiness.
I learn servant leadership. I learn acceptance of God’s direction and plans even when I don’t like the plan. I see Jesus’ grace in allowing Judas to make the choice he did – The other disciples would have restrained him with only a whisper. I see Jesus love for His disciples and for us.
I think they began to see the depth of His words and the layers of meaning. I think they saw more about Jesus and Judas in the next hours. I think they learned more about themselves. And, as the church was forming, they learned to apply the teachings of this night – even to those they believed too unclean to have ever associated with before (people like me).