Leadership as a Servant
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." – John 13:34-35
I remember during my first week of college, the older guys in our dorm announced they were going to organize an off-campus retreat as a way of welcoming in the new students. Our entire floor ended up going camping in a nearby park, and we spent the day hanging out, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and cooking hot dogs over a campfire. I should have been enjoying myself, but in truth, I was on edge. I had overheard some of the older guys talking about the evenings “initiation”, a tradition they had for incoming freshmen. I didn’t know what it was, but it sounded sinister.
I had heard about hazing, how older students would degrade the younger ones before they could become part of the cool crowd, and I was determined not to be part of it. I wanted to be accepted at my school, but not at the expense of my dignity. So when night came and the older guys began leading us toward a large pavilion, my adrenalin kicked in and I prepared to run or fight at the slightest hint of trouble. Imagine my surprise when one of the guys pulled out a Bible and began to read the following verse,
“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place." Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” – John 13:12-15
After he had finished reading, the older students came forward carrying towels and bowls of water. One by one, they removed our shoes and washed our feet, drying them with the towels when they had finished. Then putting their hands on our shoulders they began to pray over us, asking God to bless us and our time at the university. It’s been many years since that evening, but the impression it left on me still remains. Jesus was far greater than the disciples could ever imagine, yet he chose to step down and show them what it meant to be a servant of God.
What’s more, he commanded them to do the same, and that command has followed them through space and time to a rural college, where a group of older students demonstrated Christ’s love and humility to a group of awkward, incoming freshmen. Jesus knew the strength that was in humility, and because Jesus loved us, so are we to love each other.
Intersecting Faith and Life
Are you displaying the Spirit of Christ in your leadership?