The opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude, it is envy and jealousy. This plays out more strongly in close-knit communities due to the danger of comparison which is the silent killer of community. Teams and homes and friendships and playgrounds and board tables that experience success by individuals are at higher risk to toil in the soil of comparison that gives birth to multiple character defects. Even seasoned leaders are not immune to such.
Jesus meets them in their realities, histories and difficult memories. He self-reveals to us in our daily journeys, even and especially when we don’t see him. Is God walking with me in these places? Is God with me at my workplace? Does Jesus care about the events of this staff meeting? I will never get tired of how Jesus asks genuine questions to which he already knows the answers, but waits for the answers from you.
One of the leadership aspects that stands out to me in this story is the struggle for power. Where does real power come from? The second thing that stands out to me is leadership authority. Under whose authority is Jesus operating? Jesus was not too gifted for his own good. He was offered the temptation, yet Jesus seemed to know where real power came from. It was a test at the beginning of his public ministry. What kind of leader would he be? Under whose authority? Would he reach for the bread of fame? Would he rule by force? Would he take what he wanted when he wanted in whatever manner that he wanted? Would the end results justify the means?
What’s true in the light is still true in the dark. Before Jesus does anything right or anything wrong, God the Father affirms the Son fully and faithfully. It is not an act of performance-based love. It is not an award for best sales or best customer service representative. It is not in response to words of critique by others about Jesus nor words of encouragement from others about Jesus.
I wonder what went through Jairus’ mind as he had to wait for the healing of the unnamed woman? Was he distressed? Frustrated? Angry? What about the moment when, after he has to listen to the unnamed woman’s story and witness her healing, he learns that his daughter is dead? This interruption is not a simple interruption. Later he is no longer named as Jairus, but referred to as “the child’s father.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of this story within the story is that both the positionally privileged and the socially disempowered are desperate enough to approach Jesus. Jesus as a leader remains both interruptible and approachable. Nobody is too much or not enough to take up his time. Leaders must be interruptible and approachable, and Jesus is no exception.
“People are not afraid of change, they are afraid of loss.” There was a slow hum of agreement that reverberated in the room. This concept resonated deeply with my soul because it touched a nerve. I have always bemoaned that I do not like change. Yet, as I heard the chaplain speak it was then that I realized: Oh no, it is not change, but the loss that comes with change, that I fear.
This is how the gospel writer chooses to end the last chapter of John. Most of us would cringe if our failures committed in our workplaces or homes ended up in the company’s handbook. Yet God utilizes those temporal places of failure to transform them into eternal spaces of fortitude. As we stand rooted in the soil of God’s love, we do not have to fear failure nor does it have to destroy us. If we allow failure in the hands of a loving Savior to do its work in us, it could become our moment of greatest growth. We can grow into humility, maturity, wisdom and fortitude.
God called Samuel three times. Three times Samuel went to Eli thinking that his mentor was the one calling out for him. Two times Eli sent Samuel back to bed clarifying that Eli had not called him. The third time, Eli discerned that it was God calling and that the child was simply confused. With coached instructions about how to respond, the fourth time Samuel finally replied to the Lord: ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.”
The God of heaven hears the voices of the unheard. The voices of the marginalized. The voices of the oppressed. Often misrepresented. Frequently dismissed. Repeatedly mocked. Easily discredited. Brutally dehumanized. Systematically silenced. I lean into the text and hear God whisper to me: I am listening. Are you? Lamentation includes listening. Listening is a habit. Leadership is predicated upon listening.