Welcome to FaithTrack where you will find ways to apply your faith to your daily life.
Society celebrates leaders based on things like achievement, initiative or financial success, but Jesus focused and lead in a different way. Pastor Sam leads us through five important truths that help us to model leadership the way He did.
Hi, and welcome to Faith Track. We have been exploring what it means to be a disciple and how the term disciple is just another word for dedicated student. As we seek to follow Jesus with intention and dedication, we become His disciples. In our time together, we will look at a good number of passages from the Bible, and I will encourage you to take what we discuss into conversations with others. For this, we have created a notes page with all the Bible verses and discussion questions. You can access this notes page at CornerstoneSF.org/Notes during the original showing of this, or CornerstoneSF.org/FaithTrack anytime afterward.
In our last session, we did look at how we can live our lives as a form of worship to God. In this session, we are going to be looking at another important aspect of being a disciple, leading like Jesus. When we think about leadership, what comes to mind? We may think of the captain encouraging the team, the executive making decisions for the business, or the social media influencers sharing their opinions. We may think of the person charging the mountain, running out ahead, or rallying the troops before battle. These all may be valid examples of things some leaders do, but Jesus focused on something other than initiative, drive, and financial success. Though these are not bad, it is not what Jesus expected of His disciples, who were and are all called to lead within our circles of influence.
Today, we’ll explore that. We can learn how to lead like Jesus by applying five important truths. In Matthew 20, Jesus was walking with His disciples. He had just overtly told them for the third time that they were heading to Jerusalem, where He would ultimately suffer, die, and rise again. Then James’ and John’s mother approached and asked Jesus to give her sons the greatest positions of prominence in His kingdom, to sit at His left and right hand. This understandably sparked some frustration amongst the other disciples.
We’ll pick up in Matthew 20:25-28. “But Jesus called them to Him and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
In the world apart from God, power and authority are often viewed as synonymous with greatness and leadership. She who decides leads, and he who claims victory, gains influence. Rulers who don’t walk with God often force their will on others. Those with power are often convinced that they are the smartest and most capable, that their preferences are more significant, and that they have earned the right to tell others what to do.
Jesus said that leading as His disciple would look different. Why worry about power and prestige in this short life when leading His way could impact eternity? Or, if we have power and prestige, how can we utilize the influence we have, whether with family or friends, on a team at work, or amongst other influencers, to demonstrate Christ-like leadership, leading like Jesus? Those who desire to be great first must be a servant or slave to fellow believers. Then Jesus said it would be similar to what He would do as the King who served and sacrificed His own life for all who would receive Him. He would lay it down as a ransom.
Leadership Truth number one: We lead like Jesus when we see ourselves as servants. What happens when a leader serves? If a leader serves, those who follow will be more inclined to serve as well. Service and care become normative when needs are met and care abounds. One of the greatest examples of this happened at the Last Supper. In John’s gospel, he recorded this amazing interaction. John described that Jesus knew what was coming. He knew Judas was about to betray Him, and He wanted to impart a few more important truths to His disciples.
In John 13, and we’ll spend some time here, but in verses three and four, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things in His hands and that He had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist.” Jesus had trusted the Father. He knew where He had come from and where He was going. Jesus knew that humbling Himself would not diminish who He was, and it would challenge any wrong motives for leadership.
Leadership Truth number two: We lead like Jesus when we know where we came from and where we are going. No lowly task can diminish our value. Continuing in verse five. “Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was around Him. The disciples likely wore a type of sandal through streets frequented by beasts of burden and livestock. It would have been virtually impossible not to end up with filthy feet. Not only did Jesus clean the disciples’ feet, but their filth was transferred onto His towel that was wrapped around Him. And as they became clean, He bore their mess.”
Continuing in verse six: “He came to Simon Peter, who had said to Him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing, you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not only my feet then, but also my hands and head.” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you is clean.” For He knew who was to betray Him. That was why He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
Peter’s world was being rocked again. He knew and had professed Jesus to be the Christ, the King, the Son of the living God. How could God’s Son take His holy hands and wipe away their dirt? Peter pushed back saying, “No, it should not be so.” Perhaps he felt guilty. He knew someone should have done this for Jesus. But a King, the Son of God, should not ever have to do such a thing. But Jesus again steered Peter to the truth. Being washed, cleaned by Jesus was a requirement of following Him. Once Peter got it, he was all in. If being washed by Jesus was an initiation, he’s, “Wash me everywhere, not just my feet.” Jesus, again, gently corrected Peter’s passionate enthusiasm. His feet would be enough for this lesson.
All politics aside, what would it be like to have your feet washed by the President, or a CEO of a major corporation, or Pastor Terry, or some other prominent leader after walking around all day in sandals? Jesus did this to show what leaders in His kingdom do, what disciples do. When we know that He has washed our sin and shame away, we are able to humble ourselves and serve like this. A loving act can communicate you belong. You’re a part of this community of grace.
Leadership Truth number three: We lead like Jesus when His washing of us enables us to see past the sin and shame of others as they come to get clean as well. There’s a humbling that happens when we see that we all have had dirty feet, and we all have needed His cleansing touch. Now we get to help offer this to others with grace and mercy.
In verse 12, “When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, “Do you understand what I’ve done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I’ve given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
So not just knowing, but doing. Jesus seemed to always have to ask whether the disciples caught on to what He was saying and doing. We can miss the point, sometimes. It is right to call Him Lord and Teacher, both terms deserving great respect. But if Jesus, their Lord, and Teacher, would do this humble act as an example, was there anything beneath them?
I remember my first time serving at City Team Ministries around 2005. They used to have a location on Sixth Street, near the Tenderloin in San Francisco. Amongst an amazing alcohol and drug recovery program, they also served food and provided care to the homeless. Our group did a number of tasks, helping to prepare and deliver food to home-bound people in the neighborhood, and then we helped serve those who had come to the food line. After people had eaten, they were given the chance to have their feet washed, and we were given the chance to wash their feet, dry their feet, and give them a new pair of socks. Many people didn’t have shoes or socks, or if they did, there were giant holes in one or both. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this, and I was reassured that I didn’t have to. However, during my quiet time the day before, I had just read this passage from John, and I was feeling the conviction of Jesus’ words.
So I finally stepped forward. I put on my gloves, I got my tub of warm, soapy water and a washcloth, and I moved into the foot washing station. His name was Joe. He was wearing shoes with holes everywhere and no socks. As he took off his shoes and rolled up his pant legs, I could see that his feet were swollen and covered in filth. I told him that was my first time washing someone else’s feet. He said it was his first time having someone else wash his feet, and we had a laugh. Then we just started talking. I gently washed and massaged his feet in the soap and warm water. He started to cry. I asked him what was wrong, and he said nothing. He told me that I was the first person to touch him in a couple of years. He said he had been on drugs on and off, and finally had almost detoxed long enough to get into the recovery program.
I asked if I could pray with him. I really didn’t think I was good at praying, but I wanted to do something. He said he would like that, and so I just prayed for God to help him get into the program and to help him get back on his feet. Then we both chuckled since one of his feet was still in my hands. After washing and drying his feet, I gave him a new pair of socks. He thanked me for talking with him, and I asked if I could give him a hug. He didn’t answer, but just nodded and sheepishly leaned in. It was a good hug. With tears in our eyes, we said goodbye.
Leadership Truth number four: We lead like Jesus when we humble ourselves to raise others up. Washing Joe’s feet changed John 13 for me. It changed serving for me, though that was the only time I washed someone’s feet at City Team. I saw the beauty of serving and how that could open up healing and hope for others. Leading like Jesus means being aware of the needs of the people around us.
Paul described this in his letter to the Philippians when he wrote in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. This humble posture towards myself does not mean thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less. I’ll say that again because it’s important. It isn’t thinking less of myself, diminishing myself, but thinking of myself less. When we elevate others, their needs, and interests, we can readily serve them with joy and compassionate care. This isn’t to the neglect of ourselves. But we mustn’t focus on ourselves to neglect to care for others.
This sets up where Jesus continued with his disciples after washing all of their feet, even Judas’. After Judas left, in John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”
Leadership Truth number five. We lead like Jesus when we value and love one another in extraordinary ways. We lead like Jesus when we see ourselves as servants. When we know where we came from and where we are heading. When His washing of us enables us to see past the sin and shame of others. When we humble ourselves to raise up others, and when we value and love one another in extraordinary ways. As disciples, we invite and lead others into these simple and beautiful things, and the body of Christ is strengthened. It’s awesome.
Let’s remember that for the best possible example of leadership, we can look to Jesus. Like Him, we can help disciple those around us as we serve with humility and grace. I’d love to pray, and then we will hop onto our Zoom conversation. If you are watching this after its original airing, or if you are unable to join us for the conversation part of tonight, this is meant to be gone through in community. Faith trackers, disciples, always walk things out, at least in pairs. So join us for the conversation if you can, or find another person or group of people to embark on this journey together. Our primary goal is that these teachings would be a tool that can help us dig into these key areas of growth as disciples of Jesus, but also be a place in which we can ask questions and grow as we move together as a community. Let’s pray.
Lord, I thank You. I thank You that You did not come as a taskmaster, as someone who would heap up burdens on us and ask us to do the impossible, Lord. instead, You came and You made yourself low. You came as one, like a servant, who no job was beneath You. As we seek to follow You, You invite us to serve likewise, knowing that our value is not determined by either the prestige or the lowliness of a task that we do. Actually, by being willing to meet people, engage with people and step into even the lowest of tasks, we actually raise up others. We serve them. They experience something of your love just as You demonstrated your love by doing this for your closest disciples.
Lord, help us to love well. Help us to serve well. Help us to see ourselves as ones who can serve You and serve others. Help us to be willing to look past the filth, the shame, the brokenness on others, Lord, just as You have looked past ours as You cleaned us, Lord. Others just need to be welcomed into a place of grace, a place where they can belong, to be cleansed as well.
Lord, help us to love one another well. Help us to care for one another in extraordinary ways. Lord, as we talk about these things, as we look for examples of ways that we can serve those around us, help us to be open to the needs that are present. Lord, whether that’s in our families, whether it’s in our groups of friends, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in other places that we may hold influence just amongst other leaders, even. Lord help us to love well so that people see this desire to serve, this willingness to step into anything that’s available that gives glory to You. We just welcome You into their conversations. We welcome You into the Zoom conversation as well. We just invite You into our week as we seek to serve You like this and to lead like this. In Jesus’ name, amen.
All right. Hopefully, you can join us for the Zoom conversation. If not, let’s keep talking about this, and we’ll see you again next week. God bless.