Something occurred to me the other day when I was thinking about this text:
John 13:3-5 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 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.
Before I lay it out; some disclaimers:
I’m not really wanting to cause controversy; I’d rather cause honest conversation. So I am hoping that this thought which I cannot get out of my mind, will lead us to the latter rather than the former.
I’m also going to admit that with the two major ‘groups’ I’ll be making some whopping generalizations and will be looking at the ‘extreme’ of both ends of the spectrum.
Lastly of course, I’m talking about a Church context mainly, but perhaps if organisation followed Jesus’ example, the world would look a lot different.
As far as I can tell there are two sides to anything getting done in any organisation. Leadership and followers. BOTH are critical. Therefore, the attitudes of both a critical in determining whether things get done.
If that is the case, then it seems to me that if things are ‘log-jamming’ the reason behind all the other reasons bills down to this:
Rather than giving, we’re all expecting: ‘good service’.
In short; nothing stops progress like a sense of entitlement multiplied by how many people you have in a community.
Let’s just be honest, we live in the age of the restaurant review, we won’t go anywhere until we’ve looking it up on ‘trip advisor’. I get emails to leave feedback for sellers on Ebay. We expect good customer service for the other 166 hours of the week, in fact it can be a deal breaker in some places, so it’s a bit naive to think that it’s not going to affect our attitude to the 2 hours (ish) we spend together regularly as a church.
This constant drag of the ‘pattern of the world’ expresses itself in two different ways depending on which of the above 2 groups you occupy. (Of course in some contexts you may be a leader, in others you may be a follower.) Anyway, here’s how I feel it plays out.
- For Leaders.
If your a leader, your sense of entitlement expresses itself in the expectation that when you say “jump,” everyone is going to immediately say “how high?” When they inevitably don’t, you get upset.
You expect that people will ‘buy in’ to your vision, and when they don’t, you get upset. We are so unbelievably good at justifying this attitude to ourselves. Here’s some classic sins coated in ‘leadership article language.’
- ‘Vision casting‘ can very easily simply mean: ‘getting everyone to do what I want without having to listen to alternate points of view.’
- ‘Good management‘ can easily mean ‘Avoiding conflict by solving things from a distance and never having to confront my own areas of weakness.’
- ‘Empowerment’ can easily mean ‘A way of getting people to do more for free.’
- ‘Caring for others‘ can easily be experienced as ‘undermining other’s voices.’
The single greatest challenge for any visionary is to love people. Because people are often the greatest threat to your vision.
I recently chatted to a young person who was trying to connect in a new church, She mentioned it hadn’t gone as well as she had hoped. She said: “I just felt like, felt like…” I interjected: “a resource?” She immediately said “Yes!”
It happens folks.
2 For followers.
As follower your sense of entitlement expresses itself in that your attitude towards your church, it’s ministries and it’s needs greatly changes depending on if the church is ‘fulfilling your needs.’ I am actually amazed that someone hasn’t yet developed a ‘Church advisor’ app for Christians yet. (Please don’t say “that’s a great idea!”)
The sense of entitlement for followers sounds/looks something like this:
- (Driving away after chruch); “Jeezzz I’m not sure about what was going on with the worship team this morning.”
- You’re always gravitating to the people you know and/or those of the same age/skin color/ethnic background to chat to when we have ‘fellowship’ after church.
- You have used the following as an excuse: “I have done my part, I was involved in ministry ‘x’ for years, someone else can do it.”
- You’ve always got an excuse for either being late for, or just not making it to Church. Eg: “I had a really late night last night.”
- You cannot function around anyone who disagrees with you, and you leave ministries when leaders refuse to bend the rules to accommodate you.
I have been and continue to be both a follower and a leader. Every single one of those above dot points listed, I can list only because I have been and for some; am still guilty of these attitudes and statements.
Love comes from God.
Love is a choice.
One who claims to love God and yet cannot love their brothers, does not know God.
You may remember, Peter drew back when Jesus came to wash his feet for two reasons. Firstly he couldn’t fathom why the greatest among all should be doing the slaves job. But also, it challenged him to his core about what his ‘rights’ were.
In other words, “if the one who created the universe is willing to wash my feet, then what should I be doing for others?”
We can’t really love people, which means we can’t really see anything get done, until we allow ourselves to experience perhaps the most disconcerting thing in life, that is, the experience of our most dirty, shameful parts being intricately washed by the King of glory.
Only then can both leaders and followers stand together and say, Let’s not ask what we can get out of Church, but what we can give.
Because the Church isn’t ours.