Thursday, November 02, 2017

Captain Jesus

In reviewing Sam Walker's The Captain Class I used the term "servant leadership," which was something of a cliche in evangelical circles in the 1980's.  I don't know if it was common earlier or much after.  The concept has been around ever since Jesus's disciples figured out what that whole foot-washing thing meant, but as a specific phrase to keep in the forefront of one's mind, I don't know.

I got so far and yet did not fully make the next half-step until a reader mentioned that the qualities I mentioned described Jesus's leadership. They do, though there is a squeeze here and there.There are seven qualities of elite captaincy that Walker mentions.

1. Doggedness. Jesus certainly doesn't take time off from being Messiah, unless one counts going away to pray (which, trust me on this, doesn't count). But I don't think the quality of doggedness and persistence is what leaps to mind in considering Jesus's actions.  John the Baptist seems equally dogged, and so do Jesus's opponents. Until, one sees Him looking over Jerusalem, speaking in something closer to God the Father's voice than God the Son's: "“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37, emphasis added)

2. Intelligent Fouls: Playing to the edge of the rules.  That doesn't sound much like Jesus Meek and Mild ®, yet it's all over the Gospels: healing on the Sabbath, beating the moneychangers out of the Temple, calling himself "Son of Man," and using terminology usually reserved for God's authority alone.

3. Carrying Water: Leading from behind.  Sending them out two-by-two with minimal directions and reviewing what happened when they got back, something of a trial run for what they would do after Pentecost. Not to mention the foot-washing.

4. Boxing Ears and Wiping Noses: Practical communication. I think you can find examples of that without my help.

5. Calculated Acts: The power of nonverbal displays. From boy Jesus in the Temple, through the healings and miracles - including raising Lazarus from the dead, through the highly visual lessons throughout Holy Week, that is pretty clearly a standard strategy. Being crucified and rising from the dead is a pretty powerful nonverbal display as well.

6. Uncomfortable Truths: The courage to stand apart.  We don't lack for examples here.

7. Regulating Emotion: In Walker's definition it is suppressing emotion at need and using it in calculated ways. I'm not sure any of us read Jesus's mind well enough to speak with assurance about incidents, but it sure looks that way from the outside, doesn't it?  "Get thee behind me!" "Whited sepulchers," "You have said it." "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

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