*Note: I write to myself as the first reader. Not directed at one specific person, rather, all people, including myself, in general.*
Many people have gone on mission trips. They’ve become a tradition for people in the Bible-Belt. I’ve been on a lot of missions: several domestic trips, Canada, Nicaragua, and most recently, Honduras. I spent a week in Honduras with just a couple other guys. The trip was more of a relational mission for the purpose of bringing my own team on future trips. We were stationed in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras-- commonly known as the “Murder Capital of the World.” I expected the week to be intense, heavy, and full of excitement. My mind was racing in wonder of all the things I might see and experience. I was excited about the prospect of being a leader of a missionary team to such a place. So naturally, God chose to start the week off by reminding me what his style of leadership entails.
Day 1, we swept and mopped floors.
Just like my first job working at Dairy Queen, all of my gritty, laborious skills at mopping floors came rushing back. Mopping pattern, rinse technique, and even bucket placement. For about 1 second, I was bummed that our first assignment was cleaning. After that 1 second, I was happy and thankful.
I grew up in the shadow of numerous “leaders.” Sometimes, it was a job with a boss. Sometimes it was a job at a church with a pastor/boss. Sometimes, it was on mission trips. I’ve been mistreated by many of the leaders God has placed over me in my life. During those times, I would get angry and wonder why someone, whom I had thought was good and pure, was put in a position of authority over me.
The reason there are bad leaders is because of pride. We often mistake good leadership for qualities like charisma, personality, communication skills, intelligence, experience, etc. Watch the Presidential debates and you can see all of these things highlighted and emphasized. But biblically, none of these things are necessary ingredients for true leadership. Jesus was the epitome of true leadership. Jesus’ greatest quality was humility. He met his own standards.
So, as I arrived in Honduras, set to prepare myself for being a leader, I was thankful that my first task was mopping floors. Traveling and performing full-time, being the guy on stage speaking to the audience sets one up to feel important and powerful. Mopping floors is not glamourous. Tyrants don’t do their own laundry and dictators don’t wait tables.
The leader is first in line, and all other behind follow. Just like when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, he was walking all the way back to the person last in line, and serving them, making them first. The next people in line follow Jesus, and soon, the line transforms into a circle, and a circle has no beginning or end.
The best leader is the first to serve.