Awareness

I am happy to be back here talking about my favourite subject. Servant Leadership.

In the past sermons on the topic, we have established that all of us have a claim to leadership since we all have been called to influence others as Christians. If we do not remember that let us remind ourselves of some of the most common definitions of leadership.

Process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.

Martin Chemers,a thought leader and author of An Integrative Theory Of Leadership

Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

John C Maxwell : Leadership Guru and author of books like, 21 irrefutable Laws of Leadership, 360 degree leadership, Leadership Gold etc. Also compiled the Leadership Bible

Leadership happens any time you are trying to influence the thoughts and actions of another individual to accomplish specific tasks or goals.

Ken Blanchard, Leadership Guru and Author, The One minute Manager, Lead Like Jesus etc 

And let us remind ourselves of the call that we have as Christians

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:13-14

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. John 15:16

So we have established that we have to influence others, so that they might have the same hope that we have as Christians.

Through Jesus’ own words we know that this call to influence, this call for leadership is not through the power and authority model of leadership but through the Servant Leadership Model demonstrated by him. For, He clearly tells us so, in Matthew 20:25-28. 

Over some of my past sermons we have also seen the key characteristics of Servant Leadership. There are 10 Characteristics and 7 behavioral patterns of Servant Leadership. We have seen some of them in the past. I plan to help us examine the characteristic called “Self Awareness” today.

In the secular world, Self awareness is always touted as a first step to leadership. Emotional Intelligence, which has become a rage now days, puts this as one of the basic things to have, for growing in Leadership. When it comes to Church and Christian circles, some times, the idea of self awareness is frowned upon. There are some Christian views which consider self awareness as “sin”. After all, it was after the “fall”, that Adam and Eve became “aware”of their nakedness. (Gen 3:7). The proponents of this view also misrepresent the verse John 3:20 where John the Baptist says “He must become greater; I must become less”, and explain this to mean that we must be focused on God alone and not on ourselves. They also claim that the term self awareness is not mentioned in the bible. Well we need to tell them that the term “trinity” is also not there in the bible, but that does not mean it is not a fact.

The fact is that the Bible does not explicitly command us to be self-aware, but the need for us to face the truth about ourselves in relation to God, our relationships with one another and the implications of our behaviour is a constant theme:

In Genesis 32:22-31, Jacob’s wrestling with a shadowy adversary is all about his need to face the truth about who he is so that God may transform him.

1 Corinthians13:12 looks forward to the time when our knowledge of ourselves in relation to God is as clear as God’s knowledge of us. (then I shall know him fully even as I am known fully)

Romans 12:3 calls us to think realistically of ourselves from the perspective of what God thinks is important.

Many of Jesus’ stories are about inviting people to face the truth about themselves:

Mark 10:17-23: the rich young man

John 4: 1-42: the Samaritan woman at the well

Luke 7: 36-50: Jesus’ dinner with Simon the Pharisee

The letters to the churches in Revelation hold a mirror to the churches so that they can see their truth in relationship with God.

James 1:22-25 tells us that obeying the word of God is like looking in the mirror, taking note of the picture it shows us and then living in the light of what we have seen.

So this is my studied view, based on these biblical guidelines, “You really cannot begin to know God unless you know yourselves”. Let me put it another way. As Christians all of us believe that we are called to surrender to God. We are called to surrender “ourselves” to God. My question to us is this. If we do not know what we are surrendering, what are we really surrendering? Isn’t surrender without self awareness superficial? Is it not equivalent to saying, “Lord, here I surrender to you what is evident, what is outside, but deep within me are a number of things that I don’t care about and hence please don’t bother about them. There are places inside myself that are locked and out of bounds for you”. Is that our idea of surrendering ourselves to God?

If my views are not enough to convince you, let me tell you that there are some prominent Christian leaders who agree with me on this.

There is no deep knowing of God without the deep knowing of self, and no deep knowing of self without the deep knowing of God: John Calvin (In his book: The Institutes of Christian Religion)

Grant, Lord, that I may know myself as I know thee : A prayer composed by Augustine (Fifth Century Church leader)

There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend; to discover myself in discovering God: Thomas Merton, a modern day writer – I would go as far as to say that the teaching that we should focus on God and Christ alone and not seek to understand ourselves and our identity as new creatures in Christ is not Christian but anti-Christian. Selwyn Hughes, writer of EDWJ

Some of us might be thinking, we are all mature Christians, we are adults, we know about self awareness etc. Let us take a look at two very pious, godly people in the bible, and the concept of Self awareness. Let us take David first. A man God called as a man of “His own heart”. A man who brought great fame to Israel. All of us know about the Bathsheba incident. After restoring the nation to peace and great military power, David falls into sin. He sees this beautiful woman and instead of trying to resist or flee from the temptation, he follows it up with one action after another which leads to a sequel of adultery, lying, cheating, deception and murder. A sequel, which might put some of the current soap operas like “Bold and the Beautiful” to shame. And we see the then growing like a sin into his own household, with the rape of his own daughter by his own son, murder of one of his sons by another, snatching of power by the son Absolam, driving out David himself into the desert etc. But the sin did not end with David’s family, it spread to the nation too. Solomon killed his own brother for scheming against him. After Solomon’s death we see the nation splitting into south and North again. If only David was fully aware of his weaknesses, if only he was aware of the dark desires lurking in his heart. Could history have been different?

Let us take another faithful servant of God. This time from the New Testament. Let us take Peter. After the last supper, Jesus is teaching the disciples about Servanthood, and the greatest love. Peter proudly proclaims.. “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37) . Jesus’ response is interesting. He says, “Do you think so Peter? I know better, I know that you are going to deny me not once but three times soon.” Now, if I was Peter, I would have felt very hurt and shocked. “I just finished making the grandest statement that I am going to lay down my life for you and is this the way you react Lord? Are you joking? Did you not hear what I said?” What Peter did not realise is the deepest fears that he carried, the fact that he would choose to protect himself rather than admit acquaintance to an accused one. Peter was thinking of himself more than what he really was (Romans 12:3). Peter was not self aware of his deepest fears and apprehensions.

So brothers and sisters!! If it could happen to David, and if it could happen to Peter, it can definitely happen to us. We might not be self aware and it might lead us to sin. So let us be careful, let us continue to seek the truth about ourselves, in relation to God.

Before I end, I would like to raise the question of how do we become self aware? By continuing to self introspect? By being self centered? I am sure you know the answer to those questions. Christians become self aware by seeking feedback and comments from others around them. Some of you might be aware of the concept called Johari Window. This is exactly what Johari Window recommends too. I have the privilege of being involved in a “Transition Network” along with Dr Chrispal, for fighting the disease of corruption at high places in Churches and Christian organisations. One of the main reasons why the top leaders become corrupt is because they stop receiving constructive feedback, from people who are courageous enough to give them the right feedback. Some leaders surround themselves with people who only praise them or agree with whatever they say, and thus become isolated from the society. But that is not Christianity. You see, Christians are social beings. Christianity is to be practiced in society, and not by ourselves. 1Peter 2:12 does not tell us to live by ourselves, it asks us to live among the pagans and live such good lives that they may see what we do and glorify the father in heaven. If we continue to encourage others to speak to us about our lives, we will know the true extent of Christianity in our lives.

And the purpose of such self awareness is not to boast about it, or not to be come proud about it. On the contrary, we need to become more humble with the self awareness. This self awareness is to be used for further transformation in our lives. Let us take a look at John 13:3. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up…  Do you see the power of self awareness here? You become aware of who you are, and with that full knowledge you choose to serve, rather than be served.

Let us end by looking at Jesus’ command immediately after this demonstration of Servant Leadership. “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.” John 13: 13-17

Let us Pray

Benediction: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

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