Today: Monday, December 09, 2019

Leaders who follow    (11/26/2017)

Leaders who follow

Dictators are not, by nature, very sympathetic people.  They didn’t get to their positions of power by listening carefully to other people’s problems and needs.  Dictators are power people.  They have great confidence in themselves and in their ability to lead.  And they don’t give up easily.

Immediately, names like Mugabe, Assad, Kim Jong-un come to mind - and there are plenty more where they came from.

But why do they cling on to power so tenaciously when the world has moved on, and when they have become tyrants to their own people?  It may be enlightening to contrast the power politics of dictators with the model Jesus gave.

  • They are power hungry and cling on perhaps for fear of being thrown out.  Jesus gave up power and was thrown out.
  • They don’t recognise when it’s time to go.  Jesus knew when his hour had come.
  • They don’t care for those they lead.  Jesus loved and gave his life for all, caring like a shepherd for his flock.
  • Their concern is for themselves and their legacy.  Jesus was concerned for God’s will and for the good of all.
  • They do not listen.  Jesus listened to God and heard the cry of the suffering.

The term “servant leadership” is sometimes used today as if it were a new invention.  In fact the idea of leaders being first and foremost servants, goes back a very long way.  It is especially modelled in Jesus.

There is a cartoon from many centuries ago which says there are some leaders who want people to kneel and kiss their feet.  In total contrast, Jesus knelt and washed the feet of his followers.

Thankfully, there are leaders who follow the Jesus pattern, whether consciously or unconsciously.  Most commonly, people today think of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Gandhi or the Dalai Lama.  But there are many other ordinary people, not widely known, who live that life today.  Many do so deliberately because they are committed to following Jesus.

There is no doubt that servant leadership can be costly - it cost Jesus his life.  Others have faced martyrdom or persecution.  Servant leadership involves sacrifice, humility, love.  Those are patterns needed not just in our national leaders, but in our homes and communities.  There is no doubt which is the Jesus way.  As we follow him, and seek his help, we will be creating not a crumbly political system, but what he called the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said, “You know that leaders in the world have power and complete authority.  It’s not to be like that with you. Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10, verses 42-45)


Jesus, you lived and died not as tyrant or dictator, but as servant and shepherd.  Teach our leaders that pattern, and help me in my life to learn the path of servanthood as I seek to follow you.

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