“Jesus called the disciples together and said, ‘… Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.’.”
As I write this, our TV screens are saturated with a beauty contest stuffed full of over-inflated promises and egos, and a few lurid drug-related headlines. Love Island has nothing on this Conservative leadership election! What has been notable is how questions of character are playing a part in the debates. Boris is attacked for lacking the temperament to be PM; Michael Gove for hypocrisy over drugs; Rory Stewart’s entertaining leadership pitch extolled the virtues of humility.
It makes me think of some writings I came across, which discussed what it is that makes someone viable as a source of authority. The conclusion was that three ingredients are necessary: (1) they have the right to make decisions; (2) they have the knowledge to inform those decisions; (3) they have the motivation by the interests of those being led.
Over the past 60 or so years, society has experienced an erosion of trust in our politicians and organised religion. It is no wonder that as we look for someone to lead us, the answer has been to turn inwards. “Who has the right, knowledge and motivation to lead me? Only I do! What my reason tells me, or, more often in practise, what my feelings tell me, that must be the way to go!” The problem is obvious, however, when we take a look back at the decisions we made (or wanted to make) in the past that were based on purely our perspective. What ‘felt’ right at the time hindsight often reveals to be absolute madness.
For Christians, Easter and Ascension Day have declared that Jesus is Lord. He is the King, the Boss, the Master. That he has the right and knowledge to say what’s best for us. But it is the verse after the one quoted at the top of this article that shows that not only does Jesus have the power and knowledge to lead, his motivations for us are pure love: ‘The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’.
Here is a leader who has come to serve his people by offering a ransom exchange. But this won’t be a suitcase full of banknotes swapped for a hostage. This will be a life for a life. His perfect life is offered in a switch with our lives, with all their mess and guilt. Here is a leader who has authority because he has the right to lead, he has the knowledge to lead, and he has proved that he is driven by love for us. And the testimony of Christians through the ages has been that it is in serving this leader that they have found the freedom they have been longing for.
So, as we wait for, or reflect on, who our new PM is, consider who you trust to lead and guide you through life. And if you find that leader has been found wanting, open up one of the gospels and meet the leader who will never let you down.