Attitude reflects leadership, Captain. Julius to Gerry in Remember the Titans
There are many characteristics that make good leaders.
In one of my sessions with my church planting coach, she mentioned that building trust and bearing pain are two important qualities of a leader.
That resonated with me.
It’s what Jesus did.
It’s what I aim to do.
It’s what my mentors (and all the people I’ve looked up to) did.
(among many other things).
But sometimes, rather than building trust and bearing pain, we want power; we want authority; we want recognition.
It’s what Satan tempted Jesus with:
The temptation to be relevant; the temptation to be spectacular; the temptation to be powerful.
(from In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen, a book everyone should read).
The simple truth is, the authority and leadership that the world admires is easier and more desirable than what Jesus modeled.
Ruling with an iron fist is far more gratifying (for the ego) than serving with a towel and basin (which kills the ego).
I was once also told that titles are only opportunities to serve.
The greater the title, the greater opportunity to serve.
Christ (Jesus’ title, not his last name) served.
On his last night, he got on his knees and washed his followers’s feet.
He didn’t spend his last night gaslighting the Romans or the religious system.
He didn’t spend his time belittling his opposition.
He didn’t spend his time looking for “who’s on my side?”
He didn’t spend his time with the “what about” rhetoric.
He didn’t spend the last night gathering up an army.
Nor did he wash feet for a photo op.
He lived loving.
He died loving.
As Christians, we’re not called to simply live like Christ; we’re called to die like Christ. And Christ died loving — even those we’d call his “enemies”.
Jesus consistently went to where pain resided.
The religious leaders, much to their chagrin, consistently found Jesus with the marginalized (the ones that they pushed into the margins).
To follow Jesus is to live and die like Jesus: loving in the margins; serving people; being humbled enough to wash feet (whatever the 21st century equivalent might be for you).
Yet. Consistently (and predictably) we forgo the towel & basin and get in bed with power.
We dismiss the marginalized and get comfortable with people that can line our pockets and keep us in power.
We spent years making people fear the Anti-Christ and now, praise a leader who only uphold the characteristics of Christ through words and photo ops; never actions (… much like the anti-Christ we were taught to be wary of and fear).
And we (continue to) punish the prophets.
Remember, prophets are less about predicting the future and more about being the moral compass. A prophet would tell the king how far they’ve strayed from God.
You can often tell the true prophets because they usually end up getting killed.
What are the prophets of the wilderness (read: streets) telling us today?
At the end of the day, we love ourselves more than anything else.
Hate isn’t the opposite of love, as many of us are inclined to believe.
Self love is the opposite of love.
When we’re wrapped in self love, we’re more likely to take than to give.
Yet, at the core of our faith is giving.
We give our time.
We give our resources.
We give ourselves.
We give our lives.
Just like Christ.
When we’re constantly loving ourselves and chasing power — at some point, giving doesn’t make sense.
Keeping the things the way they are; staying in (and keeping) power — those become our priority. And we’d take whatever we can to secure it.
Real love means that self-fulfillment comes from forgetting yourself and serving another. Love persuades us to regard ourselves as nothing.
Self-love persuades us to regard ourselves as everything.
Are we pursuing real love or are we being seduced by self-love?
We can only know by seeing the kind of fruit we bear.
… and as leaders, who our followers become…
Or as Julius simply put it: attitude reflects leadership.