Sometimes, looking around at our world, it can be hard to see what good leadership looks like. This can be particularly prominent at the time of elections and political change. We all say that we would would like a good, strong and just leader, but do we really know what this means? Do we actually know what we are looking for?
We search and search, scroll and share, but are these thoughts even our own? In an echo chamber of social media and opinions, shouting our thoughts out loudly, only to have the same ones coming back. But is that actually all we want anyway? Are we actually just walking round a mirror maze, forever looking for a way out but only ever seeing a thousand reflections of ourselves staring back? We think we’re so grounded and well rounded but could it be that we’re so used to seeing different projections of ourselves and our thoughts that we can’t see anything else?
We try to look beyond ourselves to someone else, someone to follow but are they really immune? Even those at the top, are their thoughts even their own? Constrained by parties, policies, advisers and most of all by us; their own mirror in the maze.
We all want a world that is just, but again, do we know what justice is? It seems now that justice is knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you are right. Administering justice then is letting everyone know that you are right. Justice is having the moral high ground in a situation and sticking to it no matter what the cost. Justice is fighting your cause whatever that cause may be. Justice is shouting the loudest in the face of opposition to settle your soul. It seems only fair when we know we are right that “the truth will out”. But what if we are only right in our own echo chamber?
Do we actually know what we are looking for? Or are we all just lost in our own mirror maze?
When talking about leadership, we often turn to Christ’s humility in the church as the perfect model: “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage: rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” What a character profile. Is this what we see in our world today? When we look at those with power, can we honestly say they have this mindset? That they do not use it to their own advantage but make themselves nothing? Can any of us say this? When we volunteer for a CV or do jobs that are seemingly below us is this what it means to have the nature of a servant? Or is this just the duties?
Luke describes servant hood with this story: “Suppose one of you has a servant ploughing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’.”
What reward are we looking for when we take on these duties? Jesus made himself nothing by coming in human likeness, reminding us that’s what we already are, what we all are; unworthy. Whether a literal slave or going for prime minister, this is what it means to have the nature of a servant, not just the duties, to have the mindset of Christ, not just the works. Unseen, unheard.
I was recently reading a book that gave a beautiful picture:
The [carpenter] had completed preparations to make a cupboard, each board cut accurately to size, planed and aligned. Now he gathered up the nails of various sizes and different heads for the final assembly. Holes were bored to receive the heads: the nails were placed in position in turn, and then hammered home, covered over with wood filling, and the whole varnished, so that in the completed article, no nail was seen, only the cupboard as a whole. Were we willing to be the nails, in the hands of the master carpenter? Would we grumble at the painful blows of the hammer, or would we remember that the hammer was held by nail pierced hands? It was He, not our circumstances, nor our fellow-missionaries, who was choosing us to take our hidden place in His church.*
It’s easy to look at those in power and slate leadership but how much does that fit me? Willing to be hammered until no one can see me or even know I was there? In our individual fight for justice, do we just step into the maze and shout loudly until we see ourselves reflected back in affirmations and agreement? Do we continue arguing because we know eventually the truth will out or do we follow the one who brought silent justice in the face of opposition? When questioned on truth, Truth himself said nothing. Not letting people know he was right, not continuing the argument, not fighting hard for his opinion, putting others down or shouting the loudest, but all the time still trusting that the truth will out. Administering the justice of a servant.
When we step into that maze, what would it be like to see someone else’s reflection staring back at us? What would it take to be greeted with the reflection of a broken, disfigured, forgotten nothing? Could it be that this is the most glorious reflection we could see? Could we ever really believe that? 🙂
*Give Me this Mountain, Helen Roseveare