If You want to Lead, Learn to Serve

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 17-18; John 13:1-20

Before the Festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them fully.

Jesus and his disciples were sharing the evening meal. The devil had already provoked Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew the Father had given everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand later.”

“No!” Peter said. “You will never wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t have a place with me.”

Simon Peter said, “Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head!”

10 Jesus responded, “Those who have bathed need only to have their feet washed, because they are completely clean. You disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 He knew who would betray him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you is clean.” (John 13:1-11, Common English Bible).

In times past, and even to a degree today on certain ships, taking what I guess we would call a full shower. The Navy term for it was a “Holywood Shower.” You would step into the shower and turn on the water. Of course, the water was cold. You would get wet under the water and then, just as the water was actually getting warm, you turned the water off and soaped up, including getting your hair lathered. Once you finished washing and soaping up all over, you turned the water back on, and of course, it was straight hot and you get a blast of hot water blowing across your body. Anyway, you get under the water and rinse off the soap, turn the water off, step out and you are finished.

Why was doing that such a big deal? The ship’s boilers could only make so much potable water in a day.  Most of that water went to operate the engines. Everything left had to be used for cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene. I never experienced this but it was life at sea when my Dad was in the Navy. From what I understand it remains the case in the submarine fleet.

When I was in the Navy, when I would get off an afternoon watch, I, more often than not wanted a shower and I wanted it ten minutes ago. I was fortunate that water shortages didn’t plague us on the Mt. Whitney.

Peter just got off watch, I say tongue and cheek of course. But Peter doesn’t want Jesus to be a servant for him or anyone else. He doesn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. In the Biblical era, foot washing was common. People wore sandals all the time. Feet got dusty traveling the dirty, unpaved roads of Israel and Judea. Peter swore Jesus would never convince him.

Then Peter changed his mind. You see, Peter’s concern was not running out of fresh water. Peter was worried about the Messiah becoming a Messiah, unlike the one he really wanted. (Peter was still in a “Run the Romans out on a rail way of thinking). He wanted Jesus to assume his rightful place in the world. So, Peter refused.

Jesus responded with words to realign Peter with Jesus’ way of thinking. If you don’t let me wash your feet, you won’t be my disciple. Pack your suitcase and, in the words of the late Ray Charles, “Hit to road Jack and don’t you come back no more.” Peter instantly does an about-face, ready to let Jesus not only wash the feet but all of him.

Jesus did get things back together, dismissed Peter’s request and went about washing feet. That is a leader.

I had two captains on the Mount Whitney. There has never been a doubt in my mind the one captain knew that in order for him to lead, he was going to have to take himself down, down to being a servant.

It all breaks down to, if you want to lead, you better learn to serve.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

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