It is notable how few conversations among the disciples are recorded in the Gospels. Even more notable is the amount of recorded conversations between the disciples where they are comparing themselves to one another and seeking to climb the ladder of leadership. In stark contrast to their desire to be made much of, Jesus embraces being made less of. At the moment when it would appear He needed to be ministered to by them, Jesus strips to his waist takes a towel and water, bends down and washes each of the 24 feet of His disciples. Even though within hours some would abandon Him, some would deny Him and one would plot His death. His message is clear. You want to be great in the kingdom? Grab a towel, bend down and joyfully do the lowest of service, even to those who fail you or seek to harm you.
In the over abundance of church leadership stuff I have encountered I haven’t seen humble service often spoken of as a pathway to leadership. You want to lead? Grab towel. You want to make a difference? Serve those who are sure to fail you even those who plot your downfall. It is not enough to hang out in the hip local coffee shop and deeply converse about serving (or missional living), it is not enough to buy every book about serving (or missional living), it is not enough to blog about serving (or missional living), it is not enough to attend events about serving (or missional living).
It is about grabbing a towel and leading by doing. I encourage the planters with whom I serve to spend a little less time in the coffee shop, little less time reading blogs (even this one), less time going to events and a lot more time in the hallways of the local high school, homeless shelter, assisted living home, boys and girls club, with foster kids or homeless teen shelters, just to name a few.
When we are talking missional, reading missional, writing missional and attending missional we can sometimes feel we ARE missional. We are not missional and we are not leaders till we grab a towel.