It takes intentionality and effort to “make our dwelling among” those we lead. Being present with our followers takes time and attention… “Flesh and blood” leadership, the incarnational leadership that Jesus taught and embodied, requires something more. It means finding ways to live among—in other words, to enter the world of—those we lead.
If you are like me, you struggle with living and leading in a public world where meaning and community are often hard to come by. We are surrounded by senseless human evil, natural disasters, physical illness, and institutional dysfunction. Most of our world seems to be in darkness. But as the prophet Isaiah prophesied millennia ago, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light!”
Many of us have been deeply wounded by others. Some bear burdens so great, we would be astounded to take in their full weight. God’s invitation to forgiveness is not a call to “just get over it.” The invitation to forgiveness is not a mandate to “forget about it and move on.”
Yesterday we talked about how we spend the majority of our lives working in some way — whether paid or unpaid — and that our work should glorify God. But we all know that our work is not the totality of our lives and it makes sense to evaluate our work within a broader context.
Oh, how difficult it is to realize we’ve been wrong about something! For so many of us, it’s quite painful to let go of a long-held understanding of one thing in order to make room for a more expansive perspective or (and this is the worst) an opposing viewpoint on one thing or another.
The basic meaning of Jesus’s statement is clear. He was entrusting care of his mother to one of his most intimate friends and followers. He was making sure that she would be loved and cared for after Jesus’s death. Jesus knew he could trust his beloved follower with such an important responsibility.
What cruel irony! Jesus finally received the words he deserved: “Hail, King of the Jews!” For once he wore a crown upon his head. Yet it was not the golden crown of sovereignty or the olive crown of victory, but the thorny crown of suffering.
For many Christians around the world, the season of Lent begins with the service of Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is really a worship service of lament. Jesus’s words in John 16 include this theme of lament as well. In verse 32, Jesus is telling his friends and partners in ministry that they will abandon him. Ash Wednesday reminds us that the Easter story is preceded by abandonment. The whole season of Lent is a reminder that Jesus experienced and understands abandonment and betrayal.
As leaders — whether in the workplace, in the church, in the community, in the classroom, or in the home—we give a gift to those who trust us to lead, when we follow Jesus’ example.
“Tell me about Epiphany,” I asked my friends.
I didn’t grow up in a church tradition that celebrated Epiphany, so my knowledge about the day and its traditions is very limited. A quick search on the Internet told me that, in the Western church, Epiphany marks the visitation of the Magi to the baby Jesus. Eastern Christian traditions, remember Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist during Epiphany.