Do some Christian leaders today have it all backwards?

"Foot Washing"  cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Foot Washing” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

[You can get a print of this cartoon HERE. ALL my ART is 50% OFF with coupon code “sweet“.]

Those servant passages were written specifically for leaders and aspiring leaders, not their followers.

What if leaders really served? I don’t mean by selling us their books at a discount or by inviting us to an after party following one of their speaking gigs or by welcoming us to their plush churches or by making it easier for us to adore them or by providing ways for us to get close to them and breathe the same air they do.

What if they really served us? I mean really served us. Helped us. Provided us assistance. Made sacrifices for us. Got themselves dirty on our behalf. Humbled themselves before us. Worked for us and not against us. Joined in solidarity with us. Became us. What if?

Isn’t that what incarnational theology is all about? God gave up ambition and humbled himself and became a warm-blooded person. Why can’t our leaders?

I’m thankful there are some real servant leaders out there just to prove that it can be done.

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7 Responses

  1. Sabio Lantz says:

    David, you said, “Isn’t that what incarnational theology is all about? God gave up ambition and humbled himself and became a warm-blooded person. ”

    But maybe these pastors you criticizing are acting just like the theologized Jesus.
    God (according to theologians) became humble in becoming human, but it was only a short stint, and he knew he would not remain dead. And instead, he’d return with people loving and worshipping him more. God did not stay humble. So neither do these pastors — for like God, they pretend to be holy, kind and such only to turn on you and demand much more.

    Now, if Jesus was not a god, but just a normal person who served, that is another story. But turn him into a god with “incarnational theology” and such and the story become bizarre!

  2. Ya. I’m using the story as a paradigm that I think has been abused… or used for the selfish ends of leadership. God ended as a man.

  3. Tom Wilson says:

    IMO one of the major problems is when many churches hire “Pastors” what they really want is a CEO of their religious corporations. This in my opinion a flaw built into what considered church as in reality churches are businesses which are supposedly nonprofit and businesses require someone with business savvy to keep them afloat and to keep their customers (aka church membership) coming back and increasing in numbers. They will never admit this even to themselves, but IMO its this reality that attracts many into supposed the profession, pardon I mean “ministry.” If churches seeking “Pastors” with job descriptions that required actually serving they likely wouldn’t get many if any applicants for the job. Besides how many people would spend thousands of dollars to attend Bible Colleges and Seminaries if they didn’t have any hope for financial gain and power for their investment.

  4. I had a servant heart when I entered the ministry and I still had one when I retired, but there was a bump in the road in year 15 or so. A woman (intoxicated) would call me for “help” at about 2 a.m. in the morning. One night I spent some time with her and the next day she had no memory of my visit.

    Then I got a brilliant idea. The next time she called after midnight, I made an appointment for the next morning in my office. She never showed up. Cut down my workload of servanthood a great deal.

    About that time I decided to focus on the youth of our parish. 25% of my adults were caught up in the cycle of alcohol abuse.

  5. Shazza tha dazzla says:

    Hehehe…….. Very sharp David. You could have also shown the pastor in the prayer room reminding the elders to remind the flock to wash the leader’s feet.

    Ah the beloved FOOT WASHING! Yes, I’m cringing along with the lady in your cartoon.

    I know this is off the track, but why on earth do we still wash people’s feet in church as a sign of servanthood??? It’s a bit weird, don’t you think? Why not adopt donkey grooming instead? Or cleaning out of sacrificial fire pits? Or removal of pot toilets???

    Luckily many exalted leaders today (and I deliberately use the word leader, not pastor…… I agree with you, Tom Wilson) have found culturally relevant ways to help us express our servanthood. Those you mentioned David. And more……. Like washing their expensive cars, cleaning their expensive homes, or giving money towards their private planes – all essential for the spread of the gospel. Apparently.

    They just don’t sound as humble as good old foot washing.

  6. Julian C says:

    Agree with Shazza. The problem isn’t simply that the pastor has got it backwards (wrong person doing the washing) but rather that he’s turned something that was real practical help into a symbol, a sacrament. In Jesus’ day, people really needed their feet washing. Jesus wasn’t doing anything symbolic or sacramental, he was just doing a necessary job that no-one else had deigned to do.

    Why is it that Christians always turn things into sacraments? Is it because that’s easier than facing up to real need? Because it’s easier to wash someone’s feet in church than to invite them round for a meal or ask them what their struggling with? Because it’s convenient to pretend that they’ve served God by performing the sacrament, instead of helping people? Pharisees all over again.

  7. Yep. Cup of cold water stuff.