Last week one of our ministers posed a question to his Facebook friends to help him prepare for a class he was teaching at our church for ministers in training. He said "What characteristics do you desire in a boss?" Instead of dwelling on that question like I would normally do and pop out with some elaborate answer after allowing it to swirl around in my head, I responded immediately with the first thing that came to my mind. My response was "Someone who uses their position to not only lead, but mentor, and develop their employees to follow in their footsteps one day."
I'm blessed to have a great boss at my current job and throughout my career have had many a wonderful boss. Of course, with the good comes the bad and the ugly, and I've had my share of ruthless bosses who would fill a blog with stories of their unethical and horrible management style. And, working in leadership roles through my church, I've learned to look at those leaders in my life I long to emulate and apply those good qualities and characteristics to my own style. Anyone that knows me can attest that mentoring others is my passion. My main milieu for that activity is within my church family, but any chance I have to walk life alongside someone and watch them grow and develop thrills my soul. Referring to mentoring in my response to his question wasn't surprising, but after posting it, a visual came to me about the second half of my answer..."following in their footsteps."
Many leaders are intimidated to groom an underling to take over their role. If we were all honest, all of us that are in leadership, we still have a twinge occur when we think there is someone out there that can do our job, and maybe even do it better. But, a true leader sees that our role is for a season and if we don't prime someone to follow in our footsteps, the vision of our work could vanish. This caused me to think of the Ultimate Role Model in leadership....Jesus....and those that would follow in His Footsteps and a specific time when He modeled that in a humbling way.
It was right before the Passover feast and Jesus knew the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. At an evening meal with His disciples...those that would carry His Work on past the resurrection...He displayed His leadership and humility. Jesus donned a towel around His waist, filled a basin with water, knelt down and began washing His disciples feet. Peter, the ever outspoken one, questioned Jesus' actions. (Oh how bold Peter was, but, hmm, I can sometimes be that bold with my Master too). He did not want Jesus to stoop to that level (literally and figuratively), to which Jesus responded "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." And then He spoke this life lesson....
"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
Modeling and mentoring. Service from the Master. Charge from their Leader. Securing the vision will continue after He has ascended from this earth. I'm sure the lesson caused many a quizzical look on the faces of the disciples. But I'm confident that many footsteps down their road, this lesson had taken root and grown and they put it into action themselves. The Ultimate Leader taught us how we should follow in His Footsteps....by starting with humbling Himself at our feet.