Welcome back to Vibrant Leadership devotionals. We anticipate an excellent year of learning from multiple leadership voices.
When you think of leading voices, what are some of the greatest leadership voices?
We often think in terms of the greatest. The greatest basketball player. The greatest roller coaster. The greatest vacation. We even have a way we speak of the greatest- G.O.A.T.-the greatest of all time.
Jesus had a pretty intelligent guy come up to him one day, and they had the following conversation:
“…an expert in the law, tested [Jesus] with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35–40 NIV11)
What’s the greatest commandment, or what is the central life-giving way of doing life? It is this: Love God, Love your neighbor –all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. Or putting it another way: Love God, Love your neighbor, and the rest of the Bible is a commentary on how you are to do that.
Leadership is grounded in and flows out of loving God and loving your neighbor. Leaders live this love day by day. Leaders see teaching people this way of love as the core of discipleship. In Matthew 28, when Jesus tells the disciples to make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey everything he commanded them, we return to the G.O.A.T. commandment.
And perhaps surprisingly, we are connected to one of the central pictures of what it means to love God and your neighbor. Jesus tells his disciples to make disciples of all the nations (panta ta ethne in Greek). There is only one other occurrence of this Greek phrase in Matthew. In Matthew 25.32, Jesus says, “all the nations” (panta ta ethne) are gathered at the judgment. The nations/peoples who have done life well are marked by living out the greatest commandment in a very practical way,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger, and you invited me in, I needed clothes, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:34–40 NIV11)
As an African American pastor pointed out, one of the lovely things in this passage is that Jesus identifies the least and the last as his brothers and sisters. Not only so, but he also says our love of the least and the last connects to a faithful life of discipleship (doing all that he commanded).
As a leader stepping into the fall, you have many tasks. These tasks will call on you to do many things and expend your energy in multiple areas. In the whirlwind of this leadership, remember G.O.A.T. Remember that the first thing leaders do is to love God and love their neighbor and disciple their people to do the same: to focus on the least and the last.