08.11.14 by brent hand
You may have an idea of what a great leader looks like. He may have a beard that’s long and gray, carry a stick and speak in a cryptic way. Or maybe he (or she) has a crown and a castle and one of those jewel incrusted sticks made out gold the royal types always seem to have to knock sense into the peasant folk. Or maybe your idea of a leader wears a three-piece suit, slicks his hair back, and doesn’t like to be handed things.
But what does God’s idea of a great leader look like?
The first leaders of the church, which Jesus hand-picked, were fishermen. They were probably poorly educated, slightly above the poverty-line, and smelled like the inside of a sardine can. These aren’t the leaders we chose… these are the leaders God chose. These guys are nobodies.
And that is an encouraging thought isn’t it? God uses nobodies to change the world.
“But I want to be somebody.”
One summer years ago early in my days of “youth ministry”, I worked at a church youth camp. They had this guy preaching at night and everyday it was my responsibility to help him get his videos and scripture set up in the computers. I remember being nervous around him at first because I had this idea that he was some big-time-preacher-man-of-God and I was just some average youth pastor at some little church. But it turned out he was pretty normal. He watched movies I watched, and laughed at the same stupid jokes I did, and made mistakes. It was kind of relieving.
A year or so passed, I moved to a bigger church (one where I got paid actual money), and I ran into this same guy at a youth event. I got a little excited. Yeah, he was cool and down-to-earth, but he was also Somebody. And boy would I look cool talking to him.
Turns out the guy barely remembered me. Didn’t remember my name. Not anything really.
It hurt. I thought I was worth remembering. I thought I was Somebody too. Turns out I wasn’t and that didn’t seem right. But the more I think about it, who of us really is anybody? I’m really just placing my worth on what some other nobody thinks about me. Because in the grand scheme of things what can anything I do compare to works of God? No paycheck, or title, or position, or social status really means that much. Does it? In fact most of the time those things just PREVENT us from being who were called to be, cluttering our purpose and making the will of God second to a man-made position.
I think in our modern world, of followers and retweets and likes, we can get wrapped up in taking on the IMAGE of a leader and forget the HEART of the leader. Go ahead. Try to look like a great leader. Post inspiring thoughts on Twitter. Change your profile pic to one of you preaching. Start wearing ties everyday. Have people call you some goofy title. But the truth is that you can’t do anything to make yourself MORE of a leader except by making LESS of yourself. Jesus called his disciples time and time again to humility. The least will be greatest. The last will be first. Humble yourself to be exalted. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Do nothing for yourself or your own glory. Wash feet. Feed the poor. Sell all you have. Touch the untouchables. Become like children. Take up your cross.
But we’re too busy trying to look important to do those things. Think about this… No… really… think about it… How much time do you waste each day trying to do something to effect someone else’s opinion of you? How much of what we do is about keeping up an appearance, trying to LOOK more important, or more responsible, or more popular than you actually are?
I’m just as guilty as anyone. Right now, as I’m typing this blog, I’m worried about what you are thinking. Is it good enough? Do I sound smart? Isn’t this just the same stuff someone else said before? But I have to check my intentions. And I ask you to do the same. Before you say, do, post, or respond to anything check your intentions. Are they self-centered? Are they about your kingdom, or His Kingdom? I think that’s the best we can do.
Like one of those first nobodies Jesus called (I think his name was John) said “HE must become great… I must become less.” The way to truly change the world is found in decreasing yourself and increasing Jesus. And I can’t think of a way to be any less than to be a nobody like the first folks Jesus called.
So check your intentions. Stop thinking so highly of yourself. Stop worrying what others will think. Stop trying to look the part of a Somebody and start playing the part of a nobody. Because that’s who Jesus uses.