-One of the more dramatic moments during the night that Jesus was betrayed, occurred when Peter drew his sword and struck the ear of the high priest’s servant. Of all the disciples, Peter was often the most outspoken and first to put his foot in his mouth. Rather than upset Jesus, this quality of Peter endeared him to Jesus, so much so that Peter was usually included in the the more private gatherings of Christ when He retreated from the crowds.
Jesus gave Peter a lot of room to roam; that is, he allowed Peter to make choices that Jesus didn’t always approve. This is the mark of a good leader; knowing when those under him need to make choices for themselves, regardless of the consequences.
This is a difficult attribute for many parents and leaders to employ. When we love our children, or those God has entrusted us to disciple, our gut reaction may be to overprotect and over-guide. When someone looks up to us, it is only natural that we may be filled with elevated thoughts regarding our personal opinions about life choices. However, the stories of the bible are replete with examples of how vital it is that disciples be allowed to screw up.
God could have prevented David from having an affair with Bathsheba. However, God in His wisdom understands that His people must be able to make terrible choices, in order for them to understand more fully God’s terrible wrath, and His infinite mercy.
David’s affair or Peter cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant are pretty extreme examples of screwing up. Yet these type of biblical instances serve as a model for us in our own life as we practice the Great Commission of going out into the whole world and making disciples of all men.
However, this does not mean we should sit idly by every time a disciple is about to commit a gross atrocity; because true discipleship involves a highly developed personal relationship with our disciples. It should be with prayerful meditation that we sensitively seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance regarding when we should step in and share our opinion, and when we are sit back in silent prayer.
True discipleship is difficult. Our natural inclination is often to lecture and teach through words; yet true discipleship begins first and foremost through prayer and active listening; Prayerfully, we lift our disciples to God and ask His blessing and will to be accomplished in their lives. Actively, we listen to our disciples; we spend more time hearing their thoughts, struggles, passions, and joys, and only out of our deeper connection in knowing our disciples does the Holy Spirit then work through us.
Discipleship is not about espousing our opinions and views of the world. Discipleship is about serving those whom the Lord has entrusted to us. Jesus could not have been any more clear about this aspect of discipleship when He said to His disciples, “Those of you who wants to be great among you, must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave”.
Jesus modeled servant leadership throughout His entire ministry. Whether it was washing the feet of His disciples much to their dismay, or putting aside His own creature comforts in favor of putting others needs before His own; Christ perfectly embodied true discipleship. It is no wonder that the disciples of Jesus were used so mightily after Christ ascended; they experienced the highest level of discipleship ever seen on earth.
Working for my father’s company for many years, my dad often told me that our philosophy should incorporate an element of serving our customers. We weren’t merely there to serve their material needs through the manufacturing element of our corporation, but my dad was convinced we were called to serve our customers in any manner possible, embodying the virtues exemplified in Jesus.
One day, early on in my career, I was with an extremely difficult client, his nickname in the industry was “Ray-Can’t-Please-Me”, as he was notorious for purposely being rude and obnoxious to vendors, often with the aim of exerting his dominance. At one point in the conversation I said to him,
“Ray, I’m here to serve you so whatever it is you need from me I will take care of it”.
This statement caught Ray off guard, and his response was rather vitriolic, “Don’t ever say that! You’re a man! You’re nobody’s servant!” he barked, and at a certain point he went off on a tangent and yelled at me in front of a dozen people. As much as I wanted to yell back at him, giving him a piece of mind and explaining to him that what he was asking for was actually filled with contradictions, I bit my tongue and simply prayed.
The next day Ray called me into the showroom of the store and apologized to me for his behavior the other day, he made a point to apologize rather loudly so all the people who had heard him berate me the day before, now heard him apologize.
This isn’t to say that there hasn’t been particular times where I stood up to bullies; there are definitely instances when I believed it was essential to speak the truth, and I did. However, in the example with Ray, I had been working for him each day for over a year, and through my intimate relationship with him, I was convinced that yelling back at him would not help him in any way. It was by reminding him that I was first and foremost a servant of Christ, and that even in my vocational work I sought to serve others that Ray was influenced and clearly heard the gospel of Christ.
We are called to go out into the whole world and make disciples of all men. This is not a part time job. Just like a police officer is always on duty, even when he is off duty; we as Christians should always be mindful of our high calling in Christ.
*Stock image Wade Austin Ellis unsplash.com