Sunday, March 23, 2008

Leading like the King of Kings

Men like accomplishment. We like to look at we've done and say, "I am successful." We like it even more when others see that success and give us respect because of it. Of course this has nothing to do with right and wrong, it is simply the way that God programmed men to lead. The problem lies in the fact that we take the popular opinion of what success is over true success, as God defines it. Then we go a step further and take credit for our measly work rather than thanking God for the ability and the heart to do anything for His glory.

People who want to be like Jesus are not immune to these sins. I must confess, for example, that it is often a temptation of mine to want to get a higher degree, not because that is what God is necessarily calling me to do, but because that is what the world says brings respect and success. I am tempted to prefer upfront, big-event, mass-ministry over personal, life-on-life ministry.

Today is Easter. Let's therefore remember the leadership method God incarnate chose for himself and his followers. First off, he did not choose the accomplished, successful religious figures of the day for his closest disciples. He chose weak, uneducated fisherman and tax-collectors. He didn't choose the life of moving up the corporate ladder, He chose the life of a servant, the life of downward mobility. He loved his own dearly till the end and then gave His life for them. This is the type of leader that I want to be - a person who spends his life for others as he gains life from God.

I have another confession. I am still learning to submit to this definition of leadership. It is so backward to the world's way of thinking; even to most Christian thinking. Not many people say what I have learned from Henry Nouwen, in his book, In the Name of Jesus.

Nouwen writes, "I kept praying, 'Lord show me where you want me to go and I will follow you, but please be clear unambiguous about it.' Well God was." God led Nouwen out of a professorship at Harvard and into a life of personally serving mentally handicapped people by these words, pressed deeply into his heart: "Go and live among the poor in spirit and they will heal you."

He writes, "So I moved from Harvard to L'Arche, from the best and brightest, wanting to rule the world, to men and women who had few or no words and were considered, at best, marginal to the needs of society."

I could go on and on quoting important words from his book, but I will end with these and hope you will buy the book yourself.

"We are not healers, we are not reconcilers, we are not givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for. The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God."


Doug said...

Great words, bro. Your writing is clear and convicting. Thanks for the encouragement today. Hopefully we can skype soon.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mark and Maki,

First off, I would like to thank you for your blog, because it's difficult to find much of any up-to-date information on missions and Christianity in Japan. I am a student with an interest in Japanese and I've been learning for about a year and a half. I'm going on a mission trip with OMF this summer, and really looking forward to it.

Anyway, I'm writing this message because I have a Japanese friend who I'm trying to tell about Christianity, and she seems interested. But because of my limited language ability, it's tough for me to explain this stuff... I wondered if you might know some websites or other helpful resources for this sort of discussion? Thanks for any help you can give!

- Kyle

Mark and Maki said...

Doug and Kyle,
Thank you both for your encouragement.

Kyle, I am excited that you are interested in Japan and are helping Japanese people where you are.
My advice is this: Don't worry too much about your language. (I know that I worry too much about it!) Actually, it might be a blessing that at first your actions will speak louder than your words. Japanese are much more careful than most Americans to look at how your life teaches about what you believe. If you are a humble, joyful, and a loving person, you will be able to speak much into your friend's lives.
Please don't make the mistake that I made initially either. I thought that I could share the gospel in the same way that I would with an American. Japanese first need to hear about the Creator God that loves them and your reason for believing this before they hear about Jesus, otherwise it will usually make little difference to them that Jesus died for their sins.
Lastly, I would say use your study time to learn how to ask good questions and take time to learn clearly where your friends are coming from and what they think about what the Bible says. Then let your answers come from the Japanese Bible (the Japanese Living Bible seems to work best for first-timers) more than from your own words. After that, let your testimony be the first thing you learn how to share about in Japanese. Learning Japanese takes time, but you can also let your friends help you. In my opinion, interaction with real Japanese people is the best way to learn. I thank God for Maki!

Hope this helps,