I have been preaching on the aspects of Servant Leadership, for the past many sessions that I have got an opportunity here. And we are in the lent season. So I was thinking, what is the most appropriate Servant Leadership Characteristic fitting the season of Lent. I think I have the answer, it is ability to heal. I am not talking about miracle healing here. I am talking about a servant leader’s ability to heal oneself and others, emotionally.
Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant-leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and others. In the book “The Servant as Leader”, the author, Greenleaf writes, “There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between the servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something that they have.”
We live in a world full of wounded spirits. I am sure each one of us sitting here, has been wounded in spirit one time or the other. There has been that one time when we wished for that healing touch, bleeding internally. Servant Leaders emerge when they are able to understand the cause of the wounds and are able to lead the wounded towards a healing experience. For this first we got to understand the types of wounds that people can get infected with. Pastor Rick Aitken of True Haven Church lists these five areas as the main causes of wounding.
Wounds caused by what you have done, or got yourself involved in.
Wounds others have caused to you.
Wounds caused by life in this world – accidents, disability, sickness, loss of significant people, natural disasters, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Wounds caused by generational sins. “Sins of the fathers visited on succeeding generations” Exodus 34:7, Psalm 79:8
Attacks of spiritual forces. “War wounds”. Ephesians 6:16 speaks of flaming arrows of the evil one being shot at us.
You could add to this list, I am sure all of us would have gone through one or the other wound in our lives.
Dr Steve Brown, A professor at the Reformed Theological Seminary lists as many as 12 prisons where Christian put them selves into. Healing means, being able to release our fellow beings from the prisons they have put them selves into. The prisons are
1. Prisons of “What we do”
1.1. Prison of Sin : Every one here has a secret, and if you every one else about it, you will either be out of here, or be suicidal. Satan uses the all prevailing sin to keep us believing that we are not good enough to be Christians. “Christians are good. I am not good because I have sinned, and hence I am not a Christian”
1.2. Prison of Guilt: I am not just talking about the guilt that follows sin. There are people who go to the extent of feeling guilty for some thing that they had nothing to do with. You may not believe this, but, I am sure there are Christians who probably believe that the Tsunami in Japan happened because of something that they did, or did not do. They did not pray enough, they did not work on getting the gospel to Japan in time etc.. whatever. Satan uses our feeling of Guilt to keep us bound to him.
1.3. Prison of Failure : The feeling that we do not deserve success because of the sin we have committed. The feeling that we are do not measure up to the high standards of our God.
2. Prisons of what we think
2.1. Prison of the Past: Our child hood memories, the pains that we have suffered in the past, broken relationships etc
2.2. Prison of self abasement: I am not worthy of anything. I am worm
2.3. Prison of Perfection: I serve a perfect God and hence everything I do should be perfect, and if not, I am not good enough for my God
3. Prisons of how we relate to others
3.1. Prison of Fear: I am afraid of what others may think of me.
3.2. Prison of approval: Will my actions be approved by others?
3.3. Prison of obligation: “He/she has been good to me, I got to return the favour.”
4. Prisons of how others control us
4.1. Prison of rules : The do’s and the don’ts that we have always grown up with
4.2. Prison of Religion: The rituals, the symbols
4.3. Prison of Gurus: the heroes and heroines that we look upto.
So how we do really get out of the prisons that we put ourselves into? How do we heal ourselves of the wounds that we have caused ourselves or have been caused by others to us?
In my opinion, there are two major steps that one needs to take.
The First is to be able to really and truly forgive. Forgive yourselves and forgive others. The ability to let go of all the guilt, fear, hatred, etc that one feels. Healing and forgiveness is perhaps the most spoken and written about subject.. but how much of it is really practiced? The well known preacher C H Spurgeon says this “The most outstanding mark of a Christian is his willingness to forgive those who have hurt or injured him.” I could not agree with him more. Research shows that one of the most common reasons for people coming to the faith and then falling out is their unwillingness to forgive. They give up Christianity because they find the concept of forgiving, loving the enemy, caring for the enemy,.. impractical, and they do not want to be hypocritical. The fact is; all of us live our lives, carrying our own baggage. Let us try and see what is in that baggage. It contains some of our prized possessions. Here it is ,. I find a knife here.. ah.. this is the knife I keep for stabbing others who hurt me, there are many people on whom I want to use this knife on. My colleagues at work, may be my spouse, my sibling, my neighbors, my parents, my church members.. the list can go on and on.. So what I do? I keep this knife with me.. you never know when you might need it , right? But you know, there is a problem here… what do we see attached to the knife.. ah.. that is a chain. Let us follow the chain to see what is at the other end of the chain.. well, it is another knife.. the knife some one else is keeping to stab me.. isn’t it interesting? What do we see here? Another chain attached to my knife.. let us see where that one leads.. well.. that leads to the big man Satan himself. He wants to use this chain to control me and make sure that I am connected to him.
So how do we deal with this baggage that we carry? Some of us try to suppress it. This leads to psychological problems, and in many cases it resurfaces. Some of us try to bury it. But then it comes alive again. Some of us choose the other extreme of chewing on it constantly hoping that it will go away. Some of us “Blow our top” to get out of the situation, this might be directed against the person who hurt us, or to some innocent others. Another way we deal with it is by releasing our anger and frustration through some physical activity, like using a punching bag. Some of us run away from the problem, some of us justify being hurt. The most usual justification is that we are “human” and hence we do not want to compete with Jesus or the saints in forgiving or healing.
None of these mechanisms are effective, and they bounce back to us.
Let us get back to our knives.. so how do we get rid of the knives that others are pointing at us? How do we get out of the control of the evil one who holds on to our knife? Simple.. isn’t it. Just let go of your knife. You are no longer connected to the other knife or Satan, isn’t it? You see , this chain that you see here is called the chain of “ungrace”. Some one has to break it.. you can choose to be the one!! You must have heard the story of how monkeys are caught. There is only one way to free ourselves, let go .. and heal ourselves and help heal others. This is such a powerful leadership principle.
Psalm 103:3-5 is a beautiful illustration of how God raises a leader through the process of Pardoning (v3), healing (v3), redeeming (V4), crowning (v4), and satisfying (v5). We have already seen David’s act of forgiving and healing the hurt feelings with Saul (1 Sam Ch 24). Joseph’s act of revealing himself to his brothers (Genesis 45:4-7) is another example of how important, forgiving and healing self and others is. Numerous examples set by Jesus himself confirm this. Paul’s exhortations for us to continue to reconcile with ourselves and our brethren, are many in the Bible.
Jesus tells a story in Matthew 18: 21-35 .There are several important principles concerning biblical forgiveness taught in this story.
So, that is the first thing we should learn to do. To let go!! The second is to just accept the abounding grace that is poured upon us through the blood of Christ. People who do not know Christ, have to depend on pure science or psychology, or group therapy to heal from the wounds. That is where we Christians have a great advantage. We have the right to claim the salvation, the deliverance, the forgiveness, etc etc, that has already been paid for multiple times. All that we need to do is to receive it by faith in Jesus Christ. Many a times, we refrain from claiming it because we believe it is too simple, we believe it is too good to be true, we believe that if there is nothing that we can “do” to gain it, there is a catch. Just the last week, we were reading about a man, who was convicted for hanging. His case was taken to the President and the President pardoned the convict. But surprisingly the convict refused the pardon, and the Supreme Court held that if the convict does not accept the pardon, then the pardon is not valid. Many of us are in that situation. We might not willfully refuse the grace that is available to us, but we live as if it is not there. This lent season, let us remind ourselves that though, grace and salvation is available to us free, it did not come cheap. It came at a very high price.
Few weeks from now, we will celebrate the palm Sunday, and passion week, we will observe the Good Friday. We will remember and probably enact the passion of Christ, while He walked to the cross and was nailed to it. But let us pause for a moment and think about why he had to do it that way, why he had to die the most painful, most gruesome death. Why did He have to die the earthly way?
There was a rich elderly man who was having hearing problems. He was almost deaf. His doctor once told him that there is anew procedure that he has learned which might restore hi hearing. The elderly man agreed and the doctor performed the procedure. After the Procedure, the doctor told the man to go home, and observe for one month. After a month, the man retuned to the doctor and the doctor asked him, how his hearing is. The man said he was very happy and he can hear very clearly. So the doctor said, “oh.. your family must be very happy.” The elderly man hesitated and said, “Oh. No I have not told the family yet. I have quietly been listening to all that they are saying about me. I have changed my will four times already in the last month.” You get the point isn’t it? Let us turn to Hebrews 9:16-17 “In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.” Now imagine this. God had written a will setting aside all His wealth, all of His grace to His creation, the Mankind. And God knew fully well that for Him to fully release that Grace to the occupants of this world, He had to die as per the laws of this world. And that is the cross for us.
So even as we go through this Lenten season, let us be reminded that the salvation available to us free, is a costly one for God, and more importantly, that God has already paid that price, so that you and me need not live in prisons but can claim the freedom that comes through Jesus Christ. Let us look to Jesus, and take His help in getting out of our own prisons, ane be healed and be healers of other’s wounds. Jesus is waiting for us.
Let us Pray