Servants of the Towel

  • 20 September 2016
  • Randy Wollf

Jesus did the unthinkable… again.

It was just another meal until he started taking off his outer clothing. The disciples didn’t know what to think. He had surprised them before, but this was different.

With utter amazement, the disciples watched Jesus take a water basin and wrap a towel around his waist. No, he couldn’t possibly… but he did. He began to wash the disciple’s feet.

Jesus—a rabbi and teacher—did what no self-respecting leader would do: he did the work of a servant.

Two questions come to mind as I think about Jesus’s actions. The first one is: why did he do it?

In John 13:14-15, Jesus clearly states his purpose for washing the disciple’s feet. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

The Defining Characteristic of Authentic Leadership

  • 3 December 2015
  • Randy Wollf

Character is the defining characteristic of authentic leadership (quote by Thomas Sergiovanni)

“As a leader, the greatest gift you give people is who you are becoming in Christ. People follow you for who you are more than what you do.” 

Dallas Willard

I am learning that others will often follow me because they see something inside of me that they appreciate. Wayne Cordeiro has said, "You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are." 

As Christian leaders, we want to reproduce qualities that reflect God. In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul tells us how we can bear that kind of fruit: "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." 

Following God's exemplary character helps us to grow in godliness and reproduce those character qualities in others. Yet, what does it mean to follow God’s example?

It means to love others because God is love. Jesus' willingness to die on the cross speaks of his love for the Father and us, as well. Following in Jesus' footsteps involves a moment-by-moment lifestyle of sacrificial love.

It means to be holy even as God is holy. Today, the word "integrity" catches something of what it means to be holy. As Christ followers, we strive to be beyond reproach―to live consistently according to the high standards outlined in Scripture.

God's example of justice sets a standard for us to act justly and to love mercy. As we pattern our lives after God's justice, we will treat others more fairly. We will seek to help the oppressed and change systems of oppression. 

God's wisdom inspires us to seek wisdom; to pursue it at all costs. How can we make the best decisions as leaders without God's wisdom? In Proverbs, we learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. As we submit ourselves to the Lord, He will help us make wise choices―something that affects every aspect of our lives.

Following God's example also means being humble. Jesus set an example of humility when he washed his disciples' feet. This was a task well beneath Jesus, a rabbi and teacher in Israel. Yet, his example calls us to serve others humbly regardless of our position and status. 

Staying Humble When We are Successful

  • 10 July 2013
  • Randy Wollf

Chesterton quote - Humility is the mother of giantsWhen King Saul was looking for a champion to defeat Goliath, he promised his daughter in marriage to the Israelite victor. Saul made good on his promise by offering his oldest daughter to David (1 Sam. 18:17-18). But Israelite’s newest hero does not feel like he is worthy of the honour associated with becoming the king’s son-in-law. David, who had already achieved great success as a young man, apparently chose the path of humility in this situation.

Leadership success often breeds pride. Humbly keeping our successes in perspective is a key aspect of servant leadership. In my view, when we experience personal success, God has either given us the success directly and/or given us the ability to achieve the success. In either case, God deserves the credit. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Humility is the mother of giants.” When it comes to experiencing success, humility allows us to keep God big in the midst of the success He gives us.