Servant Leadership

John 13:1-17

Today is Maundy Thursday. Most Christians will celebrate the Lord’s Supper, remembering that last communal meal Jesus hosted before his betrayal, arrest, and death by torture. This year, Zion will commemorate this event virtually. You will join us online via Facebook Live Streaming. You will bring your own food and drink, and we will eat together, separately.

Only a tiny fraction of Christians will reenact another event from that night as portrayed in John’s Gospel. That would be when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. That makes most of us far too uncomfortable.

What Jesus did by washing the feet of his disciples was to demonstrate that leadership is about service, not being served.

Other than the Bible, if there is one book that has guided my learning about leadership, it is “The Servant Leader” by James A. Autry. © 2001, Three Rivers Press. NY. No matter who you are, or what your job is, you can learn from this approach. Autry lays out six things he believes to be core. Leadership, he says:
1. Is not about controlling people, it is about caring for people
2. Is not about being boss; it is about being present for people and building a community
3. Is not about holding on to territory, but about letting go of ego
4. Is less concerned with pep talks and more concerned with creating a space in which people can do good work, find meaning in their work, and bring their spirits to work
5. Is largely a matter of paying attention. Like life.
6. Requires love.

The Servant Leader” by James A. Autry. You need to read this book alongside John’s Gospel, Chapter 13. See the story of the “Last Supper” evening through this lens. See what kind of leader Jesus was. Be that kind of leader yourself.

I checked just this morning. Your local bookseller can get you this as an eBook for $13.99 today. (here in Burlington, it’s Burlington by the Book: https://www.burlingtonbythebook.com ).

We who call ourselves Christians implicitly claim that we are trying to live our own lives after the example of Jesus. This book can help you do just that. Be that kind of leader: spontaneous, self-effacing, the servant leader.

Forget pointing fingers at people who sin differently than you. Forget about blaming others. If you want to be a true Christian, lay aside your self-obsessed ego, tie the servant’s towel around your waist, get down on your knees, and serve others in the name of the love of God.

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