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5. The Order of the Towel

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“When I grow up I want to go into middle management.”

“I pray God will allow me to have a church with average growth.”

“I just can’t wait to go to the Olympics and win bronze.”

If you are a leader, you are not driven to be mediocre. Certainly an Olympic bronze is far from a slap in the face, but great athletes don’t enter races to finish third. The same is true with leaders in any area; th

“When I grow up I want to go into middle management.”

“I pray God will allow me to have a church with average growth.”

“I just can’t wait to go to the Olympics and win bronze.”

If you are a leader, you are not driven to be mediocre. Certainly an Olympic bronze is far from a slap in the face, but great athletes don’t enter races to finish third. The same is true with leaders in any area; there is a drive to be recognized, noticed. In a word it is the drive to be great. The book that swept off the shelves in leadership circles was titled, Good to Great – not Good to Decent or Good to Acceptable. It was Good to Great.

The disciples were no different. After a few years of walking with Jesus, they too began jockeying for position. They didn’t spend time debating about who would finish last or in the middle of the pack. They argued over who was “the greatest.” While Jesus never chastised their passions, He did change their perceptions. Certainly there was a path to greatness, but one few traveled. The path to greatness is truly the road less traveled.

Scripture defines this paradoxical path. Greatness comes through weakness, to be first we must be last, to be the most we must become the least. The leader must become the servant of all.

And so we, as supposedly sophisticated and wise leaders, act like “servants.” We spend time taking out the trash, serving coffee at the women’s ministry event, or arriving at staff meetings with bagels and cream cheese.

While those are all great gestures, they don’t quite capture the greatness of servanthood demanded by Jesus as discussed in Mark 10:45. We start by seeing the dramatic difference between servants and slaves and then we will discover how our forefinger and thumb reveal all we need to know about leadership.

Video - Servants: Slaves:

    Exodus 21:2-6
    Matthew 20:25-27

      DOULOS

The greatest thing you can do is be used by God
to form leaders, but it takes a slave leader to do it.

    2 Corinthians 4:5
    John 13:1-5
    A Leader’s PDA:

      Purpose

      Destiny

      Accountability

Key Points:

Many leaders are building a skyscraper on the foundation of a chicken coop.

  • Slave leaders love radically.
  • As your functional level of leadership grows, your foundational level must deepen to support it.
  • Competence and character meet at the heart – and that’s where God brings the pressure of brokenness into our lives.

Probing Deeper:

    1. Remember, “You are not just a blip on the screen of time.” Do you believe you have a specific destiny? If so, have you shared it with anyone? Are you fearful to share it?

    2. Note the leader’s PDA: Purpose, Destiny, Accountability.
    Which one do you need to shore up and why?

    3. Leadership tends to be about accomplishing important tasks: plans, organization, measurements, evaluation. So why did John take so much time in his gospel to describe slave leadership? Who has modeled this for you in your life? When was the last time you acted as a slave leader?

    4. Why are we so driven as leaders to develop our competence but avoid dealing with our character? What are the signs of a closed-handed leader? How can one move to being more of an open-handed leader?

    5. God tends to put pressure on the heart of leaders between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five. Why do you think He does this? Have you experienced that pressure?

Transforming the Heart:

Sometimes leaders are driven to develop competences at the risk of character because we idolize something other than our God. To what do you give your attention more than God? Your time? Your money? Your devotion? Your heart? Whatever you give your heart to is your idol – your god.

What idols do you have in your life?

What do you struggle to release to God? This is an idol in your life.

You can easily come up with the usual suspects: money, sex, power, success, recognition, influence – but control lies at the root of every such list. Control is the ultimate in idolatry because control puts us in charge and makes us accountable to no one but ourselves. Control lies at the core of pride, the vain idea that we can make it in life without God. So here are the questions you must answer:

What keeps you from throwing those idols into the fire and trusting God exclusively for security and meaning? Fear? Pride? Pleasure? What keeps you from trusting God? Are your idols worth the loss of everything that matters to you?

There is a very basic reality that all of us must understand. Once we release our control of life to God we gain genuine control of life through God. Our control is an illusion. Name one thing that really matters that you can control. As long as you think you’re in control, you’re out of control. But as soon as you relinquish control to God, you’ll find control of your life as you never have before.

Renewing the Mind:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
– 2 Peter 1:3-4

 

Related Topics: Discipleship, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership