?What is he thinking?? That had to be the thought going through the disciples? minds as they felt the hands of Jesus scrub their dirt covered feet. Sure, Peter was the only one that said anything to Jesus, but they all had to be thinking it.
I love the story of Jesus washing the disciples? feet in John 13 for so many reasons. As leaders, this story, maybe more so than any in scripture, teaches us what it really means to be a servant leader. Did Jesus cast vision to his disciples? Sure. Did Jesus model behavior for his disciples? You bet. Did Jesus love his disciples? Without a doubt. But what makes Jesus the greatest leader in history is he served his disciples when he had every right to be served instead.
The conclusion of the story of Jesus washing the disciples? feet is obviously one of Peter?s denial and Judas? betrayal. That makes it even more startling though. Doesn?t it?
Being fully God, Jesus knew what those guys would do. He knew that the other disciples would stumble with words when they later found out that Jesus had risen. He knew their imperfections, but he chose to love and serve them anyway. He chose to give it all for a cause that would change the world.
For those of us in the Church, the cause is great. The world is at stake… eternity is at stake. As a result of Jesus? willingness to love and serve his disciples, the early church would see growth so rapid that they literally had to plant new churches and campuses all over the region to hold all the people. As a result of Jesus? willingness to love and serve the people that followed him, our church fathers would be willing to die for the cause.
So, how do we replicate this in our leadership? How do we take such a great concept and make it applicable to the church today? Let?s revisit the story of Jesus washing his disciples? (or followers?) feet and pull out a couple of tidbits that may shed some light on it.
1. He loved first.
John 13:1 says that he had loved his disciples from the beginning. You see, when we try to move people and inspire people and influence people without loving and proving our love for them first, we?re left with nothing but a frustrated attitude and followers that feel manipulated. Jesus knew that influence had to be earned and that His service would flow from His love for His followers. You and I have to love first. We aren?t going to effectively lead if we can?t love the people we serve, the people we serve with, and the city we do ministry in. They aren?t going to see Jesus in us without His love on display through us.[quote]We aren?t going to effectively lead if we can?t love the people we serve, the people we serve with, and the city we do ministry in.[/quote]
2. He loved last.
Jesus? love for His disciples never stopped. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, Peter would deny Him, and John would forget Him when He got to the tomb. He loved anyway. If we?re willing to love at first but not after the people that follow us make mistakes, we?re falling short of leading like Jesus. As I look at the life and leadership of Jesus, this is the biggest thing that captures my wonder. Jesus loved when others hated Him. Jesus loved when others abandoned Him. Jesus loved when others killed Him.[quote]Effective leadership doesn?t give up and doesn?t hold grudges.[/quote]
Effective leadership doesn?t give up and doesn?t hold grudges. Regardless of what they say, love anyway.
3. He served always.
My Dad used to tell me, ?We aren?t too good to do anything if that?s what it takes.? If there were ever anyone who could break that rule, it was Jesus. Jesus was the Savior of the world?God?s Son. From a distance, we would think that He was too good to do lots of things. He did them anyway.
As leaders, we have to maximize our time, but we can?t be too good or too busy to serve. Jesus, at the end of His life, just before He was about to be sentenced to death, took time to serve His followers. We have to place a high priority on it. Serve from love, but serve with all you have.[quote]We don?t have to wash the feet of our staff, but we better love them first, love them always, and serve them wholeheartedly.[/quote]
The leadership concepts Jesus teaches us throughout the Gospels are so unique because they can be practiced in a variety of situations and in any context. What Jesus? servant leadership looks like for me where I serve is going to look completely different where God has you right now. The essential piece is that we model whatever we?re leading after Jesus. We don?t have to wash the feet of our staff, but we better love them first, love them always, and serve them wholeheartedly.