When you enter into the sanctuary of the church our family attends you are confronted with a potent picture of Kingdom Leadership. On the left stage located beneath a wooden cross is a brown washbasin with a towel draped over it. Every Sunday as worshipers crowd in, lift up praises to Jesus, and hear His Word there is a visible sermon calling them to emulate the actions of the King of the Universe.
The image of King Jesus on His knees washing dirty, stinky, ugly, gross feet the night before His journey to the cross would be forever seared into the minds of His disciples who were still grappling with a man-centered approach of leadership. When Jesus approached Peter to wash his feet, Peter vehemently responded, “No, you shall never wash my feet (John 13:8). I believe Peter was still in the CEO paradigm mode of leadership, meaning the world rotates upon a leader’s wish and command. It would take a betrayal of his Lord, a bloody cross on which His rabbi died, and a restoration on resurrection day to shift Peter’s worldview to the towel and basin approach.
The Kingdom of God would advance by humble servant leaders who followed in the steps of Jesus even if it meant washing the feet of the “Judas’ in their life.” The early church launched an unstoppable movement of Jesus’ love by serving the poor, sick, and the “least of these” which opened wide the door for an introduction to the true King of the Universe Jesus Christ.
Some where along the way we lost our towel and basin approach to Kingdom Leadership. How can I tell? Just observe the emotional reactions to the current election by followers of Christ. Many are distraught, consumed with fear, and even overcome with rage at the direction our country is heading. I know because I have had some of those same emotions. Yet when I walk into church and I see the towel and basin I’m forced to wrestle with Jesus’ approach to a leadership style designed to take over the world with a humble love that serves.
When I reread and mediate on the Kingdom Leadership principles in John 13 I get inspired again in the midst of what appears to be a hopeless situation in our country. The early church faced odds of opposition from the right, left, and everything in between yet in a couple hundred years they turned the cruel Roman Empire upside down with the towel and basin approach and earned the right to share the gospel. Rome was invaded and overthrown by a King who ruled in the hearts of His people because of the towel and basin.
On our refrigerator is a picture of a towel and basin. It reminds our family that there is only one way to lead and that is on our knees washing the feet of others. I pray that November 8, Election Day, will be a day that calls followers of Christ to exhibit the humble act of washing the feet of those in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, work places, those serving in political officials and yes even our enemies. I’m praying another Kingdom movement is about to explode by towel and basin!