This post was originally published on April 24, 2009.
In their book, Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges state clearly that to lead like Jesus you must become a servant. In Matthew 20:25-28 we see Jesus telling his disciples the difference between leadership as defined by the world and leadership as defined by the Father.
“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 TNIV)
Leading like Jesus requires us to tell a new story. Right now, the story most men are telling to their families is that a) Work comes before family b) My relationship with my child will always be strained and c) “Me” time is more important than “We” time
We need to be telling a different story.
Don Miller tells of a time when he met with a good friend over coffee. His friend begins pouring his heart out to Don telling him about how his marriage is suffering, that they are struggling to pay off the bills, and, on top of all that, his 13 yr. old daughter has turned goth and is dating a real loser. They found pot in her room and they are fearful of all the destructive behavior they are beginning to see in her life. His friend tells Don that he has done everything he can- from threatening to ground her to keeping her locked in the house to sending her to youth group (the horror!). The results have been less than encouraging and seem to have driven her further and further away. His friend felt frustrated and felt like a failure.
Don thinks for a minute absorbing all that his friend has said. “I think,” says Don, “that your daughter doesn’t like the story you’re telling her.”
No doubt his friend became a bit perturbed by this answer. Don says, “Ok wait. Hear me out. We are all designed to live in a story. Your daughter wants to live in a story where she is wanted and accepted and needed and loved- hence the loser boyfriend. She is looking for excitement, risk, and adventure- hence the drugs. She is looking for an identity and a purpose- hence the new, goth look. That’s the story she is living in.”
Don then challenges his friend by asking him, “What story are you telling her as her father? Maybe you need to tell a better story.”
The friend thinks about what Don has said for a few days. He then calls a family meeting. He gathers his wife, goth daughter, and younger son together and tells them that he has a project for them. He had contacted an orphanage in Mexico without first telling anyone in his family. This orphanage needed a new building and it was going to cost them $20,000-$25,000 to build a new one. “I don’t know how we are going to raise this money- we are up to our eyeballs in debt,” he tells his family, “but we really need to do something about this and I would really like it if we could do this together. Oh, and we only have two years to do this in. Any ideas?”
That night didn’t end well as you can probably imagine. The family stormed off and Don’s friend was left in the living room all by himself. However about a week later his son comes to him and says that since they will be going to Mexico they will all need passports and could he begin looking at getting the passports. Then his wife comes and offers to sell one of the cars. Then his daughter comes and says that she posted about this plan on MySpace and that she was asking her friends to do the same so that they could begin taking donations.
Two weeks later the boyfriend is gone, she is no longer isolating herself from the family, and they all start to turn the corner in their relationships to one another.
So what happened? The daughter (and everyone else in the family) got caught up with the new story. They all felt needed and felt that they had a purpose. They became the heroes instead of the bit players. They knew that they were called to something greater than themselves. They had become the servants rather than the served.
As parents, as adults, as leaders we are the ones that initiate the story in our families and churches. It is up to us to get caught up in the story God is calling us to and to guide our loved ones into that story.
So the challenge before you is to ask, “What story am I telling?”
Is your story one of self-service or self-sacrifice? The first one is a pretty lousy tale.
The latter was told by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like–minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:1-11 TNIV)