Thoughts of the week 7

True Leadership Comes with Humility and Following God First.

Jesus’ way of leading us was to first and foremost to serve us, as God’s children and creation.  He was the original “serve first and serve humbly” leader.  As South African theologian, Andrew Murray is quoted as saying, “humility is simply the disposition of one’s soul for living on trust”….Trust in God.  Trust in God’s ways.  Trust in God’s emissary, Christ Jesus. When we say we are Christians, things change because, as one woman writer put it, “leadership is more about how we follow than about being a leader.”  How countercultural to us as Americans today?!

Yet, as Christians, it is how we choose to follow God and God’s ways, how we see ourselves in the perspective of a vast and yet fully known universe that God is still at work in each day, and a large part of it, is about leading the way God did when here with us; with humility.

“Humility is revealed when we recognize that we are not here to be served but to serve God and others in a way that the world will see Jesus.” Jesus did not come to be served but to serve others, says scripture, and that he did.  Christians, then, are to follow this model.  Serve others humbly!

We often talk in the church about the future.  We talk about investing in the next generation or aiding the most marginalized of our communities, no matter their age or generation, yet doing such leadership with humility is key.  Our mentoring or coaching with an ability to see the talents of others as unique gifts from God must go hand in hand with encouraging those we come into contact with, such that they want to hear of God’s work, study God’s Word, such that all of our gifts and talents to serve, come with a heart of humility, so that anyone we meet up with sees Jesus’ face through us and our actions. If we do not pattern ourselves after Christ, and they do not see Christ in us, we must ask the hard question of whether we even have the right to call ourselves Christians.  This is, no doubt, a harder cup to drink out of than first imagined……

On Friday, I returned from 10 days in Argentina, and from one of about 18 meetings that occurred over that time period, the topic of how to introduce our Montessori school’s children to the children of a very underprivileged and struggling area of Rosario, Argentina, was front and central.

In my mind, it was going to be difficult to find things that would enable each of the classes to get to know each other without good access to wifi all of the time, as their barrio does not have the services that you can rely on, even if you have the equipment you need.  I wondered what would happen and if we might be disappointed, as we tried to go in and establish friendships with teachers of each school, directors of each school, and dealt with very different school seasons and levels of learning on both sides, let alone different economic situations.  But I am elated to tell you that Iris and I saw God’s hand come into play and bless us greatly!

First, our teachers and directors here, were brilliant and not only sent photos of our kids but letters in English and in Spanish from each child.  Then, they sent Flat Stanley to each.  (Flat Stanley is a male paper doll that each kid colored in so to create a person that they sent to another child in Rosario.) Stanley will now be taken to the favorite places, like rooms in their house, parks near-by, wherever they might travel to see family or vacation, etc….A photo or video, by smart phone, can then be taken and allow kids to know each other, but not be intimidated in the process.  The kids in Rosario loved it, as I am told our kids love Stanley too. The children in Rosario had never heard of Stanley before last week.

The teachers loved the 25 or so books that we took of different reading levels for kids too, later sending back to our kids, books in Spanish!  And all of it was made richer as Ms. Iris stayed with them for 2 days in school, both in classes and at lunch with teachers, all to start knowing each in a deeper, relational way, with emails and phone numbers exchanged freely and happily. No one was anything but humble and happy to just be with each other and enjoying each other’s thoughts, feeling, and talents.  We started telling of our lives outside of school too, with family and church.  God was smiling on us!  Simply relationships between God’s people were made without pride, status, or anything else but humble smiles and chatter being exchanged.

My favorite time with the kids came though when I had the chance to share a secret with the La Paz students.  At first they looked skeptically at me, but then smiled with curiosity when I asked them if they knew what table game was God’s favorite and that we are a part of it.   I think they thought that I was a strange woman, from a strange land, who was telling them strange things, with a strange Spanish accent.  Then I shared this video with them.  Take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWpTVSrG_-Q

This record was made with 55,000 domino pieces, but I am told that the kids setting up the spiral, had more than one time when they hit a piece and it all came down.  Several times they had to start over, yet they had faith in what they could do and kept trying to do the work that they believed in.  

Working towards being the best Christian one can be, working towards bettering ourselves in a humble and servant-like manner of Christ, and working towards being a domino for God is just like that, I told them.   Yes, we are called to be dominos for God and God’s messages for all people, I told the kids, and making friendships of support for each other in life, is a message of God’s.  Things in life can very often seem overwhelming and trying to do something good, no matter what it is, can be too much for one person.  Life can be overwhelming…but all we have to be is one domino.  Once we start what God calls us to start, God can do the rest.   And the truth is, the first domino rarely knows about the 20th one, the 400th one, or the 55,000th domino that is affected was affected because of the first one’s efforts, yet the affect is no less a reality.

In the last 2 years, St. John’s has hosted two Bishops, has had myself and three others representing our church and school go to Argentina, and have collected books, clothing, suitcases, laptops, thumb-drives, and sent messages of support from our kids and our laity, to the people of Argentina.  We have aided the start of over a dozen other projects that are positively affecting American and Argentinians right now, in 3 schools, 2 universities, many small and large churches, and missionary programs that are community action and community support arenas for a multitude of people.  We are a domino in that spiral of work for God!  And the truth is, they too have done the same, and affected us, such that they are dominos for us too!

Now, our kids will grow and learn of others, similarities and differences, and will, at very least, increase their use of a second language, increase their tolerance and understanding of people different than themselves, and hopefully, while we do it all in the name of Christ, we will not only leave a positive spirit within these kids and their teachers, as they do with us, but hopefully, God’s spirit will work to warm the hearts of some of those that we each come into contact with or that hear of our friendships, so that more people will turn to God to be in their lives too…..however that looks in the future.

(Pass out dominos)  We are dominos for God.  So I give you this morning a domino…not with dots on it to match up to just one other domino, as we do sometimes in playing games with the pieces, but to stand up at the side of one or more other dominoes, and in unison, so to be positive effects on each other; with each other. 

When I see what little we have to do to positively affect another person and have the chance to talk about God’s positive effect in our lives, I again have hope.  I again can dig deep to serve and lead in the humble way Christ did.  It makes me look forward to what can happen when I am at service for God, such that I am ready to say, “Let’s be a domino for God, once more!”  In whatever way it may be that God calls you to, are you ready too?!  I pray so. Amen.

(Many thoughts and quotes were taken from 

https://www.twrwomenofhope.org/message-archive/why-humility-is-important-for-christian-leadership/)

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