I was asked to speak at our Vineyard pastors and leaders meeting today… here are my teaching notes.
The key questions in life are the who? and why?… not the what? and how?
Who are you? Who are you becoming? Who are you following? Who forms you? It’s way more important that what you do/achieve and how you do it. God is more interested in you than in what you can do for him – he doesn’t ‘use’ us! Dallas Willard said, “The only thing we will get out of our lives and take into eternity, when we breathe our last breath and stand before God with everything stripped away, is the person we will have become. Therefore, WHO are you and WHO are you becoming?” And WHY are you becoming, or want to become, that kind of person? The WHAT and HOW flow naturally from this.
The need for leadership as spirituality… not as technology
Spirituality, as in the formation of character toward Christlikeness, essentially has to do with the who and why questions, whereas technology of leadership has to do with the ‘what is leadership?’ and ‘how do we do it?’… as in ‘Five Easy Steps to Leading’, or ‘The 20 Laws of Leadership’! Eugene Peterson, in his five books to leaders & pastors and five books on Spiritual Theology, has been a prophet crying out in the wilderness of the Evangelical/Charismatic/Pentecostal church lost in the technology of leadership that’s been taken in and copied from the business world. We urgently need a return to the biblical theology (understandings & models) of leadership… then the what and how of leadership (also taught in scripture) find their proper basis and place of operation. I.e. our doing then comes from our being and becoming, and NOT the other way round. Many leaders have their identity in their doing, their activism, the what and how of success – leadership as achievement, position, power, title, turf – ‘push and pull’, ‘get the show on the road’, ‘hire and fire’ type leadership, the technology of getting things done! Our identity, meaning and purpose in life, as people, as leaders, is found in God and his love for us. Then we can freely give our lives away in love and service of God and others – our doing is then a natural/healthy overflow of our being/becoming, with eternal results.
LEADERSHIP JESUS’ STYLE – IN HIS KINGDOM – JOHN 13:1-17
John 13: an earlier ‘havura meal’ of Jesus & his apostles, or John’s version of Passover?
The context of John 13: leadership Jesus (or Kingdom) style
– John’s portrayal of Jesus as YHWH’s King as Isaiah’s Suffering Servant (John 12:37-41)
– The Passover meal with the disruption of Judas and ‘who’s the greatest/leader?’ as per
Luke’s version (22:20-29)… possibly when Jesus got up to wash feet as in John?
– The four specific occasions of Jesus preparing his disciples for his suffering, as God’s Servant King, in love of them, Israel and the world (true leadership)… with their repeated response: Mark 8:31-33 (includes 34f), 9:30-37, 10:32-45, then Luke 22:20f.
Now the story of John 13, a lived teaching of leadership King Jesus style (The Spirituality of Servant Leadership), with its seven characteristics that emerge from the text:
- Timing: v1. “Jesus knew that the time had come…”: To lead is to know God’s timing of things, what he’s doing, and to work with him (Jn 5:17-20). Leaders read the signs of the times and seasons (Matt 16:1-4, key is v3) and act accordingly, giving leadership by taking the initiative to lay down one’s life for God’s purposes and people.
- Eternity: v1. “for him to leave this world and go to the Father…” Leaders consciously live and lead before eternity. All that they do is done in the light of eternity, knowing our destiny is to appear before God and account for our life and leadership.
- Love: “having loved his own who were in the world…” To lead is to love as God loves. Leadership is essentially about the quality of our love for God and people (e.g. John 21:15-17). Loving is the basis, authority, spirituality of leadership Jesus style.
- Modeling: v1. “he now showed them the full extent of his love.” Leadership shows who God is, what he’s doing, what love is, what it does. We lead by example, modeling love to the full extent – ‘to the ends of the horizon’ – of our faith in God and his eternal, inexhaustible, infinite, horizon-less love, in which we live and lead from, model and impart to those God has given us to lead. It means loving with HIS love.
- Evil: 2. “The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.” Kingdom leadership is opposed by evil, because it accomplishes God’s purposes. Evil is in close attendance to subvert and stop godly leaders. But the mystery of Jesus style leadership is that, through suffering servanthood, it exposes, absorbs and defeats evil in all its forms, liberating all in it’s sphere into the Kingdom of God. Every leader worth their spiritual weight in God has a Judas (or two) in their team from time to time. God does it to test our character/spirituality of leadership, to teach us to love, and to defeat the evil operating behind, in and through, that person’s brokenness. The challenge for leaders is to keep our hearts forever soft and vulnerable in the face of backstabbing betrayal (motivated by money, position, power, selfish ambition, etc, in leadership struggles), and to keep on washing the feet of our betrayers till evil is defeated.
- Knowing:3. “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” Jesus style leaders are secure in knowing what God has done for/in them, where they have come from, and where they are going to, and can therefore freely love (lead) without vested interests or strings attached. Unresolved insecurity, identity issues and ego needs, is THE most common source of failure, problems and conflict in leadership, and hence it’s so much easier to resort to the technology of leadership and ‘rule the roost’.
- Serving: 4. “So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” It’s at this point in the meal, if we harmonize Luke’s version with John, that the dispute arose as to who was the most important among them, who was the emerging team leader, that Jesus answered them with this demonstration of standing up to bend the knee in service like a slave. Leadership strips itself (kenosis, Phil 2:6-11) of all privilege, power, position, status, pretence and presumption – never to be ‘grasped at’, let alone to be ‘held onto’ – and comes naked and vulnerable, with no ‘gimmicks’ and manipulative tactics hidden up the sleeve, to kneel down and serve, washing feet.The Challenge & Conclusion: vv.12-15, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Rabbi’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you…Now that you know these things, you will be blessed (happy and fulfilled, to be envied) if you do them.”