Kingdom Authority and Servant Leadership
If everything required to be an effective, Godly leader were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. Brave men and women have been vying to capture the "Winning Leadership Formula" for millennia. All domineering dictators, over-bearing oligarchs, and worship-me-as-God-monarchies have failed the test of time.
Despite these ongoing rebellions, our forefathers were granted four definitive volumes on servant-leadership. Wisdom is, after all, justified by its children; the global church is still expanding. We have heard this leadership teaching distilled into: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength while loving your neighbor as yourself."
We must pay much closer attention to what we have seen and heard in the gospels, lest we drift away from Jesus. Outside Christ's wisdom, leadership only seems to produce death, hatred, and genocide.
Our desire to triumph over others is overwhelmingly evil. We often push our poorest foreign neighbors down to force them "below our level." Why? So our shadowed, ugly fingers can point downward to declare: "Look, we are better than them; therefore, we are valuable." This vein of thinking advances the human timeline towards destruction.
In a race where runners pull each other further from the finish line, everyone only suffers. Worse still, our society seems like a race with disappearing course markers and no finish line. Evil is denounced in our society; that is true. Nevertheless, certainly, not every wrong is addressed at once. Special-privilege wrongs are forgotten into something "fitting for the times."
Our society responds without trepidation but instead with applause to blatant misconduct. "Look at her individualism and her strength of will," a crowd gasps in the theater, conveniently ignoring the tornado wreckage of lies and robbery the main character perpetrates the entire movie. Spineless and sinful friends on-screen aid her in accomplishing more evil. They ignore the law of God written on each heart, "thou shall not lie or steal." Whether movies are a mere reflection of society or powerful influences, it is a sorry state of affairs when our reflection is so soiled.
Scripture asks: A faithful man, who can find?
Our desire for boast-worthy significance is a disease. We may see our cancerous ambition through a lens of "I am right, and they are wrong," or perhaps "I would do a better job," or even "I do not owe my leader any loyalty." Scripture is clear when it teaches that submission to all leaders with an exemplary attitude (except on orders to sin) is the way we honor Christ.
Vanity of vanity, all is vanity says the preacher. The ancient Israelite preacher echoes humanity's heart.
Qohelet famously "examined everything under the sun" to the exclusion of the supernatural. His experiment did not quite reach the idea that heaven could touch down under the sun.
Jesus is the antithesis of vanity. To put it positively, he's the cornerstone that gives meaning to life. Selfish ambition and pride have been canceled. Among his other triumphant titles, our Savior is humility incarnate.
Competitive self-exaltation is older than the apostles because somehow, they picked up that behavior. After all, only competitive, self-seeking disciples argue amongst themselves to claim the title of "greatest person in heaven."
When Jesus was in the perfect place to point His finger at our evil humanity, he further extended a helping hand to his bickering disciples. He extended a hand to us.
Everyone needs a win unquestionably because there is a war that infinitely matters. The ongoing conflict against sin and death must end someday.
Humanity as a whole must seek that significant victory; it's our only hope. It is a refuge beyond our boasting because we can never point our finger at ourselves to take credit for it. Jesus wins for us.
Self-exalting people can begin to follow Jesus (and that is fantastic news). Disciples seeing Christ's example turn away from empty pursuits. We must embrace the mindset of Baptizer John to find lasting meaning in the phrase: "Jesus must increase, and we must decrease."
Authority is delegated. It is a small thing for the Lord to change the order of Presidents and Kings. We can trust God to use even the deadliest Caesar somehow for His good.
"The humble feel no need to justify themselves." Often we are deceived into thinking that the opinion of men is what matters most. Why else would we try so desperately to defend ourselves before others?
In the end, men's minds do not matter, for soon they cannot mind us at all.
God's mind, however, perfectly captures every memory, every event, and every perspective. His account is the Truth. His eternal record matters most. Since his infinite mind will soon reveal every motive, do we rather live in light of His perfect perspective?
As a follower, I must serve under human authority humbly. This is a witness that I am under the authority of God. For if we cannot obey those who we have seen, how can we obey God who we have not seen?
David was human like we are enduring much hardship and awful treatment at the hands of a failed leader. God blessed him for it. David is also the more incredible testament to God's faithfulness and wisdom because he trusted God in unimaginable circumstances.
Leading or following, let us not forget that our perfect God is worthy of far more praise and honor than we can ever give him. Lives that honor God consistently and at a high cost are the greatest of all, for God's glory is shown most beautifully through tested faithfulness.
What do you think the relationship between authority and servanthood is?