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Have you emptied yourself?

Jesus "though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness." -Phil 2:6-7

My morning devotion on Christmas Eve directed me to Philippians 2:5-11 (NRSV) – a passage we read to understand more about Jesus, but a passage originally written to a group of Christians in need of an ego check. The church in Philippi was apparently bickering over power issues, and issues of right and wrong. These are issues we associate pastors know well.

Paul’s advice to the church was to adopt the “mind of Christ,” a posture of humility. In context, I hear Paul saying something like, “You think you deal with people who don’t get it? Imagine being Jesus – God in the flesh – and having to deal with the likes of you and me. Thankfully Jesus did not wield that like a big stick. Instead, he put it aside and subjected himself to even experiencing crucifixion. That is why he is who he is!”

We associate pastors are leaders who are working under the authority of other leaders, and called to facilitate the members of our congregation to participate in that leadership. That is a lot of leaders in a small area. If we are not careful can become the too many cooks who spoil the broth.

For that reason, we need to adopt the humble mind of Christ who patiently mentored a dozen non-theologically-trained fishermen, tax collectors, and more. We need to be able to set our egos aside so we can develop leadership skills in those who surround us – the Marys, the Marthas, the Lazaruses, the ones washing Jesus’ feet with their tears, the Pharisees inviting him to dinner, the Zacchaeuses, and more.

The church may be losing the art of shepherd-leadership – leading by coming alongside someone, or maybe a better analogy would be leading another in a dance. We associates have a great opportunity to show the church what humble leadership looks like.

Do you have the mind of Christ? Have you emptied yourself of your theological degree, your ordination authority, and your lofty job title? Jesus did far more than that to lead us to God. May we follow his example.

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