Knowing that you aren’t the messiah of your company, your ministry, your family or your community is a good thing! John modeled and Patrick lived what all followers of Jesus should aspire to be: humble servants who know that the only joy in life is found by submitting to Jesus, our humble Lord.
Our leadership may call us to confront some kind of system, power or authority in order to do what’s best for the people and organizations we serve.
Yesterday, we reflected on how John got his nickname, the Baptizer. Today, we will see another name for John—a witness. John the Baptizer’s ministry is clearly given as a “witness” to the light so that “all might believe” in the Logos, the Word, who is Jesus Christ (1:7). Now, the word “witness” is an important word in John’s gospel, showing up 14 times compared to only three in the Synoptics… John being described as a witness informs modern Christians how we should we be identified as well.
I’ll be calling John the Baptist, John the Baptizer because there were no Baptists or Presbyterians or Pentecostals back in the first century! John got his name because he was known to live fully for the Lord, spending his life baptizing people into God’s family. John got his nickname from what people saw. If someone could observe you all day, what could your nickname be? Grumpy Glen? Caffeine Carol? Netflix Nate? Drama Dan?
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we read about the mother of the yet-to-be-born Jesus, rushing from her hometown to stay with her relative Elizabeth. Mary could have been rushing out of obedience to the angel who informed her of the incredible mission of carrying the Messiah. Or Mary could have been fleeing her small hometown out of fear of reprisal from family, friends, and neighbors who would certainly judge her in the coming months for being pregnant and unwed. But I’d like to think that Mary’s haste was primarily out of love.
I am constantly working on finding tools and exercises that help me become more self-aware. John Calvin argues in his Institutes that you can’t really know God if you don’t know yourself, and that you cannot know yourself without knowing God. I see my pursuit of self-awareness as part of my growing relationship to the God who created, called, and redeemed me… As we begin 2019, let’s commit to growing in our knowledge of self and knowledge of God in our daily work.
Personally, I have a hard time with gratitude. I don’t even like to send thank-you cards! But I’m learning more about what gratitude isn’t, so I can understand what gratitude is. Gratitude is more than saying “thank you” when someone gives you something. In fact, very often, we say the words “thank you” when we have no gratitude in our hearts. The difference is having the feeling of gratitude in your heart when you say the words.
The Corinthians knew something about God’s grace. They had converted to Christianity out of their pagan context and struggled to let go of their former ways. The people of Corinth had a reputation in the ancient world as an unruly, hard-drinking, sexually promiscuous bunch of people. Paul spent a year and a half with this group of believers in Corinth and then left to plant other churches. Later, he got word that they had continued in their Corinthian ways.
I shared yesterday how Jesus could be perceived according to certain leadership standards as having failed numerous times… In a Nazarene synagogue, Jesus initially astonishes his hearers with his teaching ability. But that brief approval is quickly followed by criticism, rejection and… an attempt to kill Jesus! With this kind of response from his audience, I don’t think Jesus would have passed the modern test of “successful” preaching or leadership, would he?
I’ve been reflecting on Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe’s book, The Revolutionary Communicator… As we’ve seen, the book describes seven essential practices modeled by Jesus: attentiveness, seeking connection, asking questions, authenticity, storytelling, solitude, and defining success. As I’ve incorporated these practices into my own leadership, I have seen incredible fruit, but I’ve also faced many challenges that could be perceived as apparent failures.