A Christmas Leadership Lesson from Jesus: What the Ultimate Sacrifice Actually Involved
One ministry experience from my past has made me think deeply about the ultimate Christmas leadership lesson this year…
Some years ago, I traveled to the Philippines as part of a ministry team sent to teach and preach in Filipino churches. I spent four days in a small mountain town on the island of Mindanao. I stayed in a roughly 12′ by 14′ structure, elevated on posts. There were no windows, just openings in the plywood walls; no electricity and no running water. I showered at the town fountain, standing in my gym shorts pouring water over my head. I ate fish for breakfast. They saved the delicacy for me – the head and eyeballs. I ate fish for dinner. I slept under a mosquito net. I shared space with the rats, the lizards that hung on the walls, and the monkeys that ran through the roof.
In material terms, it was a step down from my middle-class life here in America. I drove into my subdivision, hit the garage door opener, pulled in, parked my car, walked into my air-conditioned home, laid on my sofa, hit the remote, and fell asleep in comfort. A big difference!
Think for a moment about Jesus. Imagine leaving all the comfort and perks of heaven and stepping down into this sin affected world. God the Son took upon Himself humanity. That’s moving down! He was born into our world. He was born to one of our women, in one of our stables, in one of our villages, in one of our countries, right here on Earth.
The early church leader and theologian, Augustine, sought to capture the essence of Jesus’ downward step with these words, “The Word of the Father, by whom all time was created, was made flesh and was born in time for us. He, without whose divine permission no day completes its course, wished to have one day for His human birth. The Maker of man became man that He, Ruler of the stars, might be nourished at the breast; that He, the Bread, might be hungry; that He, the Fountain, might thirst; that He, the Light, might sleep; that He, the Way, might be wearied by the journey; that He, the Truth, might be accused by false witnesses; that He, the Judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal judge; that He, Justice, might be condemned by the unjust; that He, Discipline, might be scourged with whips; that He, the Foundation, might be suspended upon a cross; that Courage might be weakened; that Security might be wounded; that Life might die.”
Why did Jesus go so low? The answer is that He did it to lift us up.
He did it to lift us up from our failure to live as God designed and intended us to live.
He did it to lift us up to the fullness of life we need and only Jesus can give.
He did it to lift us up to eternal life (knowing and enjoying relationship with God now, and the completion, perfection, and total satisfaction of life in His presence forever).
This Christmas let’s remember that Jesus lowered Himself to lift us up. He made the ultimate sacrifice to serve those He loves. We are called to serve in that same way and that’s what makes us leaders like Jesus. This Christmas let’s lead in service as we celebrate our Savior.
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- Adjunct Professor of Theology and Leadership
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