ESSAY-LIKE SUNDAY MORNING: Today’s lesson was skillfully taught by Sister Johnson and entitled, “GIFTED AND CHOSEN LEADERS”. Today’s Scripture was, Hebrews 4:14-16 and 5:1-10. The KEY VERSE was verse 14 which reads, “Since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess”.
One of Aesop’s Fables tells a story of an old hound dog, who “found a bone and held it tightly in his mouth. He growled and scowled at anyone who attempted to take it away. Off into the woods he went to bury his prize.
When he came to a stream, he trotted over the footbridge and happened to glance into the water. He saw his own reflection. Thinking it was another dog with a bigger bone, he growled and scowled at it. The reflection growled and scowled back.
‘I’ll get THAT bone too,’ thought the greedy dog, and he snapped his sharp teeth at the image in the water.
Alas, his own big bone fell with a splash, out of sight, the moment he opened his mouth to bite!”
The moral of the story is this: Be careful that, what you think is better than what you already have, is not an illusion, for seeking the illusion, may lead to disaster.
In the KEY VERSE, verse 14, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we ALREADY “HAVE a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us HOLD FIRMLY to HIM (for we CHRISTIANS profess to have faith in Him).
We must be extremely cautious when we seek leadership from among men and women! In the past lessons, the writer of Hebrews has built a progressively stronger and stronger case for Jesus being greater than ALL the leaders before Him, (i.e. the Prophets, the Angels, Moses and the Levite priesthood).
We’ve all heard the term, “Do as I say and not as I do”. To put it simply, this is an exceptionally awful way to lead. Jesus led by example. Leading by example is an extremely powerful and effective way to lead. Jesus never asks that we do anything that He would not do or has not already done.
He has, in fact, done more and suffered more than he’ll ever ask us to. I dare say that none of us has ever been crucified on a cross, with nails in our feet and hands.
When leaders don’t “practice what they preach,” it can be almost impossible to move forward together successfully. How can anyone trust a leader who talks about one thing, but does another?
Consider what might have happened if Dr. King had, even one time, been in a physical fight with his opposition. His important message of nonviolent protest would probably have been much harder to believe after that. His followers would have looked at him with suspicion and distrust. The chances of them getting into physical arguments or committing acts of violence probably would have increased dramatically.
Do you think that Alexander the Great’s soldiers would have fought so hard for him if he had sat on top of a hill, safe from the battle? Probably not. He would have been just another average general in our history books, instead of the example of a successful leader that we know today.
Good leaders push their people forward with excitement, inspiration, trust, and vision.
No one trusts bad leaders, the vision they’re trying so hard to make happen, loses its appeal.
Jesus modeled leadership when He walked miles upon miles, preaching, teaching, and healing. He modeled faith and obedience through trials, tribulations and suffering when he was whipped, ridiculed, and crucified. He even found time, amidst His suffering to forgive His tormentors.
Jesus as Leader exemplifies leadership in numerous ways. Here are but a few:
He had a calling. Centuries of prophecies were fulfilled in a small boy who grew in “wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52, KJV), and had His calling supernaturally confirmed at His baptism. This teaches us that upbringing and affirmation are vital to the formation of leaders.
Jesus also led with integrity by His example. Respected leaders live what they preach, relying on principles, not popularity. Jesus could have won the nation through popularity. He did not.
Texts on leadership speak of leaders requiring a vision they can “sell” to their followers. Jesus passionately believed His message, and, with integrity, He taught with authority. He was so committed to His vision that He died for it. Vision with commitment is a winning combination which inspires others to action.
Jesus had charisma. “The term charisma (/kəˈrɪzmə/; pl. charismata, adj. charismatic) has two senses: (1) compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others, (2) a divinely conferred power or talent (Wikipedia)
Jesus had a perfect character that resisted all forms of temptation and weakness. He faced the hard issues of inequality, power, and suffering head on, and rebuked His followers when they did not do the same. Jesus’ character was revealed through His consistency: He refused to advance Himself and publicly maintained often unpopular teachings. Can Trump or Clinton say this?
How interesting it is that love is absent from even Christian lists of leadership qualities. Love was behind every aspect of Christ’s life. It was central to His vision and His mission. Love drove His service and led Him to His death. Jesus’ compassion flowed from this love. Has either candidate even MENTIONED the word LOVE?
In humility, He met people where they were. He met their immediate needs. When crowds followed Him, though tired, He was moved to heal them, feed them, and teach them. Who is humble among our candidates?
He showed them compassion. How many of our current crop of leaders and “wannabe” leaders value, compassion as a leadership quality?
The key to Christ’s humility was the source of His confidence. It was based in God, not ego, thus He remained competent, powerful, yet approachable (approachability is a prerequisite for leadership).
(It is perhaps, serendipitous, that this lesson on leadership comes when we are in the throes of a heated battle to determine who will be the next leader of our country. We have narrowed the “contestants” down to the two, “most qualified”, but I fear that the people will lose, no matter which of the two candidates wins, for I have yet to hear either of them mention God nor Jesus, nor pray a prayer; not even a small one.
My other fear is that they both have over-inflated opinions of themselves and are extremely selfish and maniacally egotistical. They are also both rather disingenuous when it comes to what they say they represent and are both ominously naïve about what they say they will accomplish when elected.)
Jesus taught His followers to have faith and confidence in God’s power to work through them. Only through faith and prayer could they receive the power to heal and receive healing. When faith was exercised and a job was well done, Christ did not hesitate to offer praise. Who do our current candidates praise, besides themselves?
From His actions to His words, every aspect of His life was marked with incredible wisdom. Jesus not only lived His life for His personal calling, He lead others to fulfill theirs. Jesus gave purpose to the lives of His followers. He gave them a message, a task, and a hope. Jesus was people-focused. He lived for others and yet His esteem was based in God, and not in pleasing humans.
Christ came, transformed, and expanded leadership beyond the humanistic figure often depicted in textbooks. He was the Model of perfection in every area, including Christian leadership. Any leadership author will tell you to model yourself on the best.
Hence, who else should be that Model but, of course, Jesus?
Which of our current crop of potential “leaders” exhibit these qualities? Let’s find that person and vote for THEM!