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Last night I finally watched a DVD copy of the epic movie 2012. Wow! Fantastic. I came away believing the world could end in similar fashion, but I was unconvinced any inexperienced pilot could fly a plane quite like that!
What was most amazing to me about the movie was how the life of one divorced man with two children, Jackson, shaped the story of the end of the world as we know it. His contribution to society was a little book about human behavior when civilization ends. Writing about the City of Atlantis, the backdrop of his book, Jackson’s thesis is that people should care for others even when everything seems lost. His idea was that people should be, well, human. Jackson is a mostly unknown, unread author of a book that didn’t even sell 500 copies. And yet, his story shapes, defines, and becomes a key reference for the survivors of the earth’s almost complete destruction, which includes more than one Ark for survival of another flood of biblical proportions.
This notion of being human has me thinking. What do you suppose God intends for humankind, for eternity? Too many have a kind of non-faith; a belief that nothing has meaning. Personal survival, or escape, is all that matters. The secret survival plan of world leaders in the 2012 movie led to assassinations of those who asked too many questions. Their mission was “the survival of humanity,” but at what cost? The spiritist sees no meaning in the material world. Seeking salvation, they wait for their escape (or rapture), an elevated reality beyond all that which seems so meaningless. Whether you are a materialist or a spiritist, nothing has meaning without the Author who gave it meaning.
Think with me for a moment. If you were to write your five year plan, what would it include? What would be your priorities? Would it be to acquire more things? Accomplish more? Build more? Would it be to experience more? What would you expect of life? What would you expect if Jesus were here now walking with you in your neighborhood? If you could ask Jesus for one thing to make life complete, what would you ask?
Have you already asked? Are you disappointed that your prayers are not answered? God just didn’t respond to you? Have you been disappointed in your leaders, especially your spiritual leaders? Have you found yourself judging them, critical of their lifestyles? Are you seeking a spiritual life, an elevated life, separated from the world? Are you just hanging on for that glorious day that you see Jesus appear in the eastern sky, with hopes that he will take you away from this horrible existence? Could it be that you simply have the wrong expectations?
Jesus, the Author of life, is incarnate eternally; he’s in a risen body. We should stop and think of the implications. We should reread his words when he asks, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling out to each other: “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners”.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” (Luke 7:31-35)
Transformation is not triumphalism. It’s not vindication over all your disappointments, and all those who misunderstood you. It’s not finally being appreciated and thanked for all you did in this life. Transformation is a dependent humility in every moment of this life. It doesn’t matter if the world knows, or sees or understands. The only applause we are meant to seek is from the One with the nail-scarred hands. But to hear that applause requires humility.
Leaders are not called to inflict pain; they bear it. They do not absorb praise; they re-direct it.
Transformation of self requires the right expectations, which emerge from the right hopes, the right values and the right ideas. God is not merely calling us to servanthood, vision-casting, or risk-taking. God is not merely calling us to motivate others or build teams or communicate strategic plans. God has not merely called us to stand before people and speak, however eloquently.
God’s call on the transformational leader is to a surrendered life, to Lordship. He’s called us, like John the Baptist, to “decrease, that Christ may increase.”
God is calling us to “BE”, before we “DO” anything. Yes, he calls us to pray and to expect miracles, but even more his call is to listen with a humble heart to hear the One with the nail scarred hands applauding our life and work. The call to transformational leadership is the call to be radically human.