Humility, Pride, Servanthood.

Everybody gets to load the dish-washer.

At New wine Gareth Robinson said “In our family we have a rule that everyone gets to load the dish-washer” and then went on to explain that it was true for their Church family too.

Following on from yesterdays blog about the discipline of secrecy is our need to be people who serve.

No one knows who replaces the toilet-rolls, nips to the shop to buy milk so you can be welcomed with a nice coffee, cleans the floor after your kids have splashed paint everywhere and many more unseen jobs within the Church.

Often too, no-one notices the person that tirelessly visits our housebound members (some are delightful and some can be a real act of love!).

So much of what really matters about Kingdom Ministry is rarely the bits that show. -Ironically when Churches do job interviews they seem primarily concerned about the bits that show which actually I think are the bits that matter least, I’ve known poor preachers facilitate wonderful moves of God, and great preachers be utter rat-bags behind the scenes.

My friend David white once said “it is easier to find someone that will preach in the pulpit that it is to clean it” -to be fair he did spit a lot when he talked!

Yet the act of service is so vital for the health of any Church, but it is also vital for our own spiritual health.

when I was a teenager I got accused of “treating this place like a hotel!” but when you serve you are actually investing in the Community, not coming as a guest or a consumer. when you serve you feel part of the family.

Yet serving is so counter cultural now, and perhaps sometimes human beings are just a bit lazy, I was laughing in the leaders lounge at new wine about the people who will talk to you (and I’m sure they think what they are saying is important) and watch you working (moving tables, doing dishes, scrubbing floors) and they will talk and talk at you, but won’t lift a finger to help!

Yet serving reflects Jesus style of leadership, the God who took a towel and washed his disciples feet. The Servant King. The God who came “no to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many”.

I read a facebook statement that said: “If serving is beneath you, then leadership is above you”. -It is true, at the heart of leadership in the economy of God is service.

Interesting too, I have seen people talk about believing God has a call on their life, even in some cases frustrated that God hasn’t opened the door sooner, but they won’t roll up their sleeves and serve, perhaps the key to opening up their destiny is a lot simpler than they think, and yet this also might involve a change of heart which might be a tougher call than they think.

when I think of service I am drawn to the story of Naaman a leader in the Babylonian army, a leader covered in the dreaded skin disease lea that Elijah’s servant told to bath 7 times in the river Jordan, he refused thinking he was too grand and the river was too murky, yet it was in humbling himself and submitting that he gained his healing and transformation (and deeper than his physical healing he realised that the God of Israel was the only Lord to be worshipped).

Scripture tells us (repeatedly) that “God opposes the proud and yet exalts the humble”, it is the humble that serve, it is the humble that seek the glory of God rather than boosting their own ego. Servanthood is a revolutionary act and choice in defiance of our egocentric self glorifying world.

So, lets grasp the discipline of secrecy and learn to lead less like Alan Sugar in his board-room and more like Jesus washing the disciples feet.

The call of Christ in my experience is downwardly mobile, it is an upside down Kingdom where the first are last, and the last first and the meek inherit the earth.

And I’ll close with another facebook meme that says “we often miss God’s great opportunities because they turn up in overalls and look like work”.

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Discipleship, Giving/Generousity., justice, love, Matthew 25., Servanthood., welcome

Making Disciples Jesus way… P3.

I almost entitled this blog “A little less conversation” because that is what discipleship sadly so often has become, people talking, and yet discipleship needs to be lived out, the world needs to see what following Jesus actually looks like in real, authentic everyday life.

I remember reading in Philip Yancey’s book “what is so amazing about grace?” of a story of a woman who really messed up big time, and she was asked about going to Church, to which she replied “I feel bad enough already, Church would only make me feel worse”.

Somehow this seems a million miles away from what Jesus said “by this will all people know you are my disciples, that you love one another as I have loved you”.

Discipleship I believe is about being that community that loves one another, and loves and welcomes in the broken, marginalised, ostracised and disenfranchised… A Church that welcomes the last, the least and the lost.

People talk a lot about creating an Acts 2 Church, but I wonder whether we need to create a Matthew 25 Church?

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Mother Teresa describes this as “Jesus in his most distressing disguises”, in serving the hungry, homeless, imprisoned or hurting, we are in fact serving Christ.

This has always been on God’s heart, in the book of Amos, God says he is fed up of all this religious activity and events whilst people were corrupt, unjust and lacking compassion…

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
    your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
    I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!

In  Isaiah 58.6:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”

In the book of Micah it says:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God”

And in the first letter of John it says:

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Discipleship is not about sitting around pontificating.

Too often western discipleship fills the head but does little in the heart, and even less to make the world a better place. I would argue that Discipleship should not only bring about transformation in us and out lives, but we are actually practically partnering with God in (to quote Bishop Stephen Conway) “turning this broken and upside down world the right way up for Jesus Christ”…

Christ reveals the priority of heaven when he encourages his people to pray “may your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”, we know eternity is where peace and love reign and where violence, corruption and hatred have no place, and we are called to see this translated onto the earth.

we read in Luke of his mandate -taken from Isaiah 61-

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”

I believe that we over spiritualise these passages, thinking Jesus is talking about the Spiritually blind, or the spiritually imprisoned, but I think he actually meant those who were actually blind, broken hearted, imprisoned.

Certainly extravagant love for people was how the early Church took the words of Jesus, now sadly it feels like we are far too selective in our use of scripture, preaching on Paul’s letters and John 3:!6 and omitting all this talk of justice, transformation and the Kingdom of God.

So few of our Churches practice radical hospitality, feed the hungry, help with housing, visit people in prison. John wimber once asked when the Church ‘did the stuff’ meaning signs and wonders (and I’m really, really up for that) but I think the same question could be asked for acts of love, ministries of mercy and the pursuit of justice.

The book of James says that “worship (although some versions mistranslates as religion) that God finds pure and faultless is to look after widows and orphans in their distress…”

One evening instead of doing our normal Bible Study I took my home-group out into the city to feed, bless and talk to the homeless… It was one of the deepest and most spiritual evenings we shared together as a group.

So, lets look at what is on the heart of Christ, lets not just talk a good game on comfy sofa’s, let us get out and partner with God in ushering his Kingdom in, and we start by welcoming Christ in his most distressing disguises.

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brokenness, Christmas, incarnation, Pain, Servanthood., Suffering.

In the Poo.

At our nativity service I got everyone to come up and put newspaper headlines into the manager with baby Jesus as a prayer activity but also as a sign and symbol of Jesus coming down amid and amongst the brokenness of this world.

to illustrate this I really wanted to bring into Church a bucket of manure, a really stinky bucket, to show the smell that the Creator of the universe was born into, Jesus was literally born surrounded by crap.  Jesus was born how he lived, surrounded by the world at is vilest, messiness and most broken, and yet amid all that he wasn’t tainted by it, rather he overcame it, he brought beauty out of his brokenness, bringing hope to the hopeless, bringing salvation, restoration, tranformation from gutter right accross every stratosphere of human divide, with even the Roman Emperor, the most powerful man on earth came to bow the knee to the babe of Bethlehem.

As we think about the image of crap, I was struck by two images:

Firstly, from my time working in a nursing home, whereby if a patient soiled themselves we came in with rubber gloves, plastic aprons and air freshener… Arms length and trying not to gag.

Secondly, of seeing many babies and their mums at our parent and toddler group, dealing with horrific smells from down bellow, with crying babies held close, comforted and loved despite the stench.

Love does not hold back at arms length, but embraces amid the filth and stench and sees beyond it all the person who is loved more than anything.

Jesus is the latter, the second image, drawing close and loving even when the world was at its most vile and disgusting.

All the way through his life Jesus “touched untouchables with love and washed the guilty clean”… A women with “an issue of blood” ritually unclean, defiled, banned from the temple touched the hem of his garment and rather then her defilement tainting Christ as she touched him but she was both healed andcleansed no longer unclean, untouchable and defiled, instead purified, his holiness was bigger and greater than her condition.

We don’t need a lecture here to know the world is not as it should be, the newspaper headlines scream it out to us all the time.

Nor do we need a rant here talking about how people are screwed up and broken, we probably know this too loud and clear.

We know the problem.

We know the world is defiled and full of crap, our lives are at time much the same, the good news is that there is a solution and rescue amid the mess, the baby Jesus who grew up to take all the vilest depravity humanity could throw at him, and carried them on his shoulders as he was crucified for you and for me.

He took the crap for you and for me.

All my sin, the junk and the skeletons in the closet, brought into the light and washed away by his death and resurrection.

Jesus once spoke to a guy with leaprocy and asked him “What do you want me to do for you?” And the guy replied “I want to be clean” and with that Jesus reached out and touched him, again like the woman with the issue of blood, Jesus was defiled but rather his touch made the leaper clean.

In many ways we are like that leaper before Christ, he asks us “What do you want us to do for you?” Will we echo the leapers statement of faith and say to Jesus, I want to be clean?

In the book of Isaiah it talks of our sins being like scarlet but becoming as white as snow, let’s come to him afresh for cleansing, we can’t pretend there isn’t a problem anymore like the stinking teenager trying to mask a ton of BO by spraying their clothes with Lynx deoderant, instead it is saying “I know my need of cleansing for God, I know you are a God who meets me in the gutter at my lowest point”.

As I type this I am reminded of a old hymn which says “Foul I to the fountain fly wash me saviour lest I die”… Knowing that the stench of our sin is more than just a bit unpleasant, but is actually fatal, and our cleansing and purification is not just life saving but life giving and life transforming.

Yet Jesus’ decent from heaven to the gutter is I believe actual a model and a picture we as Christians are supposed the emulate.

Jesus called us to be people of salt and light, light that drives away darkness and most most needed in the darkest placesm and salt that combats decay. In fact the Romans used to put salt on their poo to combat the smell and the germs, so when Jesus is talks of being the salt of the earth, it is a call to the darkest, smelliest, vilest places that need the transforming good news the most.

So, Jesus descended into the worst of the world’s crap, we are called to do like wise.

Mother Teresa once famously challenged of us as CHristians to “find their Calcutta” -I believe there will be somewhere we are called to serve, to wash off the dirt -the crap- of the feet of that place, and rather than letting it change and taint us, instead lets be the ones bringing the change and the transformation, for the glory of God which is unstoppable despite the unmentionable things this world throws in our path and I’m our way.

 

 

 

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Church, community of grace, Journey, Mission, Mission Shaped Church, Servanthood., welcome

Host, Servant and Pilgrim…

I had an interesting meeting with a lovely guy called Ben, he’s exploring New Monasticism and fresh expressions of Church, and was telling me about this expression of Church in Wales who talk about these three modes of being Church.

Host, welcoming, hospitality, putting yourself out for the sake of someone else, think of other cultures of hospitality whereby they give to their guests sacrificially and beyond what they can afford (if you have ever done any oversees mission you’ll know what I mean!)
Servant, how can I help? How can be bless and serve you as a community, thinking of Church as a servant of the world, not wagging their finger and bossing it  around, but looking for opportunities to serve and bless, to bend down and wash its feet.
Pilgrim, that idea about being on a journey, following Christ, seeking where he is at work and walking together the journey of faith.
I love this idea of the modes of Church, as I am becoming more and more discontent with Church being an event we attend rather than learning to BE Church.
Church is not an event, or a series of events, but a radically community moving together to see God’s Kingdom breaking in.
Yet Church is not something disconnected from us, but is us ourselves?
What does it mean for me to learn to be Church?
How does this work in my normal day to day life?
Do I act as a Host? When am I acting as a host?
And when I host am I a Christ like host?
When do I act like a servant?
And when I serve am I like Christ?
And am I a pilgrim?
Am I seeking God?
Am I actually moving in my faith at all?
Am I moving on with him, or am I still in the place I was, or have become used to it and become too settled?
Who am I travelling with?
Where am I looking for God?
How diligently am I seeking him, and am I looking for him in the right places, am I seeking his voice?
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Humility, identity, Pride, Servanthood., Worth

The unworthy servant of the most worthy God

got a letter through the post from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York (as you do!) and I was struck by the writing around the crest of the Archbishop of York, which read “The unworthy servant of the most worthy God”…

This made me think.

Firstly I liked the humility of this, but then I began to feel a little uncomfortable.

When we see the worth and worthiness of Christ, we know that by comparison, “we are not worthy even to eat the crumbs from under his table”.

I think that too often we as Christians, and we as Church leaders, put up a veneer of being ‘sorted’, ‘holy’ and ‘righteous’, yet the truth is we all suffer and struggle with sin, all that happens -sometimes- as Christians is we get better at covering it up!

Our struggle with sin, is an on going an daily battle, not something we used to struggle with before becoming a Christian. Although this is never the message we actually say, sometimes it is the message we inadvertently give off.

We ALL sin, if in any doubt check out Paul’s struggles in Romans 7… We are all conflicted with the person we know we should be -and want to be- and who we actually are.

Ironically living up to peoples expectations of being sinless is more likely to push you into sin!

One thing I learned whilst working with drug addicts and alcoholics was that of leadership from a point of both brokenness and recovery, the councillors -former addicts themselves- were both messengers of hope and of struggle, beauty and brokenness. I love Henri Nowen’s description of Christian leadership as that of being a wounded healer.

I grew up in a Church that was very much focused on the cross, on sin, on the need for repentance and faith. Yet the problem with this form of Christianity was sometimes it didn’t feel like ‘good news’, it felt condemning, and the default setting placed the emphasis on my sin rather than on my Saviour.

Guilt, shame and unworthiness were part of my mind-set, which I thought was what God wanted me to feel, but verses like “there is now no condemnation in Christ” I struggled to personalise and allow to alter my own perception on myself.

Yet it was through the charismatic renewal movement that I really discovered that no only had the price been paid for my sin,  but that I -me-  was loved.

God saw me through the lenses of the cross and of his wonderful grace… God saw me as his beloved child, precious and valuable, my worth was extreme -that God himself would die for me.

This answered those real and deep questions of identity. A movement which talks a lot about our identity, about being anointed and empowered, about knowing the Father and his heart for us.

I stopped using words like unworthy, as although I know I am, I also don’t think it is helpful, I need more often to be reminded of grace, forgiveness and faithfulness, rather than living in a place of condemnation and almost self flagellation.

I think when we beat ourselves up, we say to ourselves that we are useless, we are failures and God can’t use us, the truth is that (although this is still true) grace speakers a louder and truer word that we can still be used despite our faults and failings, that no one is useless to a God who delights to work with his children.

Even at our worst and our most rebellious God’s love for us remains faithful and constant.

If I were redesigning the archbishops crest I would write “I maybe an unworthy servant, made worthy by the love omost worthy Lord Jesus Christ”.

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Humility, Leadership, Servanthood., teachability

Followership…

In the world of business people often say “there are leaders and followers”, but I’m not sure that it is true.

Many people think ‘leadership’ is something you are born with, like blue eyes or freckles, but again I’m not sure this is true either.

When we obsess about leadership, we are only thinking of one side of the coin, for leaders to exist people need to be followers.

Actually I believe everyone actually is following something or someone, -I think we often ask the wrong question in our culture, for example I believe everyone worships it’s a human instinct, so the question isn’t will you worship but WHO/WHAT will you worship?

The same question is not, will you follow anyone/anything but WHAT/WHO will we follow?

However, I think what differs for Christians is the issue of self awareness, when we end up worshipping the wrong things, do we realise we are worshipping?

Or when we follow the wrong thing, do we realise that we are following it?

I believe that often we don’t realise what we worship, nor truly see who we follow? -We don’t always know or realise our what our drivers are? -what pulls our strings? -what pushes our buttons?

Certainly us as Christians we know we are supposed to worship and follow Christ.

Yet, do we actually really know what this really looks like in our normal every day lives?

I would suggest that if you are following Christ you will notice three things:

The question maybe we need to ask ourselves, how do I know if I am following Christ, or am I doing my own thing with a bit of a Christian veneer?

1) There will be movement, if you are following anything you wont be staying in the same place, you’ll noticing changes, challenges, growth (although sometimes we don’t always realise we are moving because we are always with ourselves so we can’t see the changes. Also, sometimes when we are on a stationary train and another zooms past it gives the illusion of movement, don’t think because people are moving around you that you are necessarily moving yourself!)

2) Fruit, if you are following Christ, you will be becoming more like him!

3) Opposition, if you are following Christ you are going to feel some friction, because you aren’t going the same way as everyone else.

Yet the problem with following Christ is that there seem to be too many middle men called leaders, and how do we follow Christ, moving forward with others, together in an area without any human leadership.

Without leaders and followers, we will never do anything together, and certainly won’t move forward… somehow, what ever we think of it, leadership and followership is part of the human DNA, and I would suggest that we both operate in both areas at different times and at different occasions.

We are all followers, and yet there is a calling for us to lead, but this is more of a case of “follow me whilst I follow Christ”, it is about a journey with Christ in the company of others.

And, then when we start thinking about leadership we realise we can’t be a leader of Christ’s people unless we are a follower of Christ himself, you can lead people where you haven’t been, or aren’t prepared to go yourself.

The leaders of the Bible -with possible exception of Samson, who is a bit of a muppet anyway- are largely not Oxford Educated, chino wearing Alpha males, but rather limping nobodies from backwaters.

I think we sometimes get confused between gifting and anointing, character and calling.

Do you think God is saying something, then share it, if other people rally around the vision and you seek to make it happen you are a leader.

Sometimes you will be the one who hears something and calls people to step out so you step out and lead, sometimes you are the one who hears something from someone else and the spirit quickens within you and you feel called to step out and follow.

If we truly believe that we have a God who is our strength in weakness why in so much of the Christian life is everyone fighting to be top dog?

And why is it all the time

Too often we talk of growing leaders, which is great, but actually in our self sufficient, egocentric, consumerist culture, learning how to be a follower is sometimes a bigger and a tougher lesson than being a leader.

We live in a world which says “you can’t tell me what to do”, but instead we are choosing to sacrifice something of our own independence for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and his value of interdependence.

Following is tough because it means humbly not getting our own way all the time, and we all like that, everyone wants to be agreed with!

Following is sacrificial, Simon and Andrew, John and James left their livelihood to come and follow Christ, Matthew/Levi walked out of his paid employment to follow Jesus. Jesus talked of his followers “picking up their crosses” -being a follower is a challenging call.

Leaders too can sometimes be frustrating, I know I am at times, and probably people could say with justification say “I could do better than that” but for whatever reason I’m called to a certain role at a certain time, and maybe God is teaching me stuff? Or maybe teaching you stuff? Which ever it is, we need to lay our frustrations at the foot of the cross, we as Church are called to be a community of grace, where our worth is not in our performance. Sometimes it is in leading and sometimes in following, we discover the grace of God that is unearned and given simply for being us, God’s beloved.

The challenge of grace is how easily do we slip into competitiveness, and not doing it?

The challenge of grace is how easily we slip into comparisons, and not doing it?

The challenge of grace is how easily we slip into complaining, and not doing it -the car park after a meeting or over Sunday lunch are often places where some leader or others ears probably burn!

How can we be a community of grace?

How can we lead and follow together well?

Graham Kendrick talks of “each others needs to prefer”

The world often talks about one person, normally a man, telling everyone else what to do, yet the Christian model of leadership is more about seeking God’s will prayerfully in community, it’s about shared conversations together. Often it is others in the community who refine and shape the vision, honing it to make it more in-line with the voice, will and heart of God, the body ministry each playing its part.

Interestingly here we often see two types of people, the ‘controller’ and the ‘submissive’, the person who fights for their corner and the person who caves in, and interestingly we all need to learn from both of these.

Are their times when Christ is calling us to contend for what he has said?

Are their times when we need to bow and submit to someone else’s judgement call?

Working out which is which can be hard and challenging too, my suggestion is it is often the one we find tougher to do, which often is where God is calling us.

Christian Leadership is about bravely following Christ together as community, the call is often -if not always- on the narrow and rocky pathway, it’s not an easy route, some will bail out because it is too hard and costly, some will bail out because a nice and more comfortable vision comes into view, some will bail out because they don’t see the vision, some will bail about because of our failures of leadership -which is really hard for us.

A wise Elder once said to me “the only thing we are called to be is faithful”.

The God we serve loves us and sees our heart, and all that is within them.

Ultimately it is him we are doing all this for, we lead because we are following his call to “come and follow him”… As we follow we know he sees our hearts.

Search me and know me O God and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

So, lets embrace grace, lets be faithful, let him see our heart, and let us move forward with him together with one another, a rickety caravan of a community, but as we edge forward every step toward Christ is a team effort which receives a cheer from the one who says “well done good and faithful servant”.

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Acts of Service, John 13.1-17, Servanthood.

TO SERVE OR NOT TO SERVE…

An old blog I found, I wrote a while back…

“The Son of Man (a name Jesus used for himself, originally used in the book of Daniel) came not to BE SERVED but to SERVE and to give his life as a Ransom for many!”

 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

I have been thinking a lot about servant hood recently.

On Wednesday, I had to bow to what my senior colleague said about something, and I submitted, but it didn’t sit comfortably and made me think about having an attitude of a servant, and humility and all that stuff.

I think too that as Christians are image of leadership stems from Lord Sugar’s Board room rather than following the example of Christ.

Jesus saying at the Garden of Gethsemane on his knees before his heavenly Father, ‘no my will but yours’, how many of us have basically tried to say to God “not your will but mine”…

I heard my Landlord in St. Mike’s in York sing enthusiastically “it’s not about your Jesus”… it was a mistake the real line of the song is “Its ALL about you Jesus, for your glory and your fame, it’s not about me, as if you should do things my way, you alone are God and I surrender to you!”

Surrender is not a concept we like, but as the Archbishop said when asked by a bunch of ordinances what was the key to fruitful ministry and he paused and said “dying to self, continually and perpetually”… In other words being obedient to Jesus and submitting to his will is the only way to do ministry effectively, as going God’s way is the only way of serving him.

I think John the Baptist understood servant leadership, when he said about Jesus “I must decrease so he might increase”…

I have been watching the West Wing Recently, and there was a great episode where the president of the USA didn’t take the credit for sorting out the social services budget as if he was seen to be involved it wouldn’t ‘get through the house’ so was prepared to sit back and let some less worthy people bask in the glory, in the knowledge that he’d done the right thing, called it his ‘invisible legacy’…

Are we prepared to see the Kingdom advance without any recognition for our hard work behind the scenes?

I think Sam (my wonderful Intern who worked with me two years ago) is going to be a great leader, why? because he has been a great follower, carrying tables, emptying bins and doing all sorts of grotty jobs without complaining shows he has the right heart and God will rise him up…

Whereas too often we see leaders who won’t serve.

Recently I caught our senior minister cleaning the toilets in the hall because they were a seriously gross health hazzard, yet we have some guys who over the 4 years I have been here have never seen them do the washing up, or move chairs, sweep floors.

In the Church in York which was a bit crazy about peoples titles and all that malarky, the Vicar, David White, one said, ‘in this Church it is easier to find someone to speak in the pulpit than to clean it!’

Unless we grasp this “last being first stuff…being a servant of all” and the radically different world view that we are called to live in, where sometimes we have to gracious step back or step up in order not to be blessed, but to bless other people.

Mother Teresa said about these people wanting to ‘find the Holy Spirit’ travelling to Toronto, but weren’t prepared to cross the street to speak to a homeless person.

Be a blessing and God will sneak up on you and bless you, but that’s not why we bless people, we bless because we love them and we want ourselves to be more like Christ, and in blessing other people we worship Christ.

Yet Discipleship and walking in the way of Christ will cause your EGO some discomfort.

I think the problem is our EGO’s, which could be an acrostic for Edging God Out.

A challenge, think who can I serve and bless today?

Is there issues where I am willing to be last, so that Christ might be first? (As John the Baptist once said “I must decrease so he must increase”).

A message easy enough to write and read, but lets actually be this Christian Community which actually lives it out!

Let’s be people who are living lives of service, radically different from the world around us, that people might see Christ in us, our lives not making sense to them, but be beautifully attractive as Christ’s beauty shines out from us, hopefully without us even realizing it or noticing it.

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