Monday, August 08, 2011

Leadership in an upside down kingdom

Jesus shows up on earth and turns the worlds systems upside down. He says, unlike the worlds values we value simplicity, humility, meekness, servanthood, mourning and most of all love. He often contrasts these values with the values that are inherent in the worlds "way" and then not only tells us a new way but shows us. He triumphs over the power and violence of the day, not by being powerful, but by being powerless. He triumphs not by being violent, but by being non violent. He triumphs not by looking out for himself, but by sacrificing himself for the universe. This is an upside down kingdom.

I have often talked about the anarchic nature of this kingdom. That it is anti hierarchical. That the church has been seduced into the age old folly of wanting its hierarchy. Just like Israel of old we have cried out "give us a king that we might be like other nations". Only we have cried out "give us a CEO and a board of directors so we may have a successful church". Or "give us an inspiring motivational speaker, that we might grow to large numbers". Or perhaps in a better motivation, but same resultant hierarchy, "give us a godly pastor to lead us into being a growing church".

When Jesus not only talks about but lives an upside down kingdom, everything changes, including leadership. Jesus calls for those who are most inclined to lead to be abject servants. Almost a different interpretation of the old adage, "those most desiring of positions of power are those least worthy of them". Jesus calls us to be submitted to one another, not to our "leadership" Jesus calls us to lead by our loving service, not our personality, or our position.

This is often a very difficult task, especially those of us that have been gifted as leaders. So like my post about unnamed power suggests the answer is not to run and hide, or pretend these gifts aren't there. But to recognize them, and then to subvert the corrupting influence by:

often refusing to take power (Jesus quickly left the crowd before they took him by force and made him king)

looking for opportunities to serve in quiet humble ways (Jesus stopped the train of admirers on his way to heal the "important persons daughter")

Seek to position yourself in the humble places (Jesus stayed in the marginalized places of Empire, and when he did go to Jerusalem the place of power, he didn't exactly make himself at home)

Submit to others (Jesus was unique in being accountable only to the Father, but we see Paul and Barnabus and Peter all being submitted to one another)

In the end holiness means being different, special even. In a world so sold out to the hierarchical pyramid of power, perhaps this is a holiness much more apparent than not saying shit?


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