One of the earliest lessons I ever learnt about leadership was the importance of looking after those entrusted to your care. In my military background, this was most clearly demonstrated by ensuring that the people you lead were fed before you ate. To this day, that same habit instilled in my youth still manifests in how I do ministry. I have a habit of waiting until everyone else gets something to eat, despite people insisting that the Pastor should eat first. I don’t mind, I’ve never gone hungry, and although I might miss a tasty morsel or two, the joy of seeing others enjoy that is enough for me. Leadership is not about demonstrating power and control over another but empowering them to find in themselves the capacity to do great things.
It’s a sad fact that our political leaders, regardless of denomination or faction, seem far more concerned with their own well-being before the people they serve. It begins with the horrendously high, out of all proportion, wages they pay themselves, to the in-fighting and bickering as they vie for positions of power and prestige. We may criticise them, but they simply reflect the way in which most people work. It is refreshing to see people stepping out of that way of life. It is encouraging to hear stories of drivers stopping to help a disabled person get back in their wheelchair, or people finding money and not resting until they locate the owner. We all feel a little encouraged when we see and hear these good news stories.
We are blessed by God’s rich grace and mercy, freely and unconditionally given, to be a blessing to others. This lies at the very heart of the Gospel. It underpins Jesus entire ministry. In Mt 20:20-28 James & John’s mother asks Jesus to place her sons at a position of importance with Him. He asks if they are willing to embrace the same path as he is about to undertake, and despite their naïve willingness, Jesus reminds them that his path is one of ultimate sacrifice. He comes “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In Lk 22:24-30, at the Passover meal, a similar conversation about greatness emerges, and Jesus again reminds them to be humble and serve as he serves them. Jesus is very focussed on these things and reminds us that we also need to be focussed in our service.
There is an unbridled freedom being a Christian. It comes from the unconditional love and grace freely given to us in Christ. It is the freedom to be leaders in the world who serve rather than seek to be served. This is the freedom Paul spoke about to the Galatians (Gal 5:13). A freedom not to be driven by our own sinful desires, but to love others through our acts of service. Peter reminds us that we are gifted not for our own benefit, but so we may be servants of others (1 Pt 4:10-11). It is through our service that God is glorified in the life of another. It is through our acts of service that our blessings become blessings to others. It’s not hard stuff, this call to service, for in it we demonstrate our faith (Jm 2:14-17). When we fail to act, we fail to demonstrate that faith is real for us. More people are saved through an act of kindness than all the words under the sun.
How can you bless another person this coming week? Ponder this for a moment. It may be in a simple act of a phone call, or dropping by with afternoon tea, or offering to take someone down to the shops, or run an errand for someone, or whatever simple thing you can imagine. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, just a simple act of kindness. Next time you buy a coffee, you could pay for 2 and allow another to enjoy theirs freely. You could make a point this week of holding the door open for others or allowing others to pass through them before you. There are so many simple acts of service one can do, without any fanfare or reward, that can be a blessing to another. Be intentional about this, it is a habit hard to learn and even harder to sustain. Pray God will open opportunities for you, and when he does, leap at them with joy and love.