Jesus said, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty”. (Matthew 23: 11 – 12)
Politicians, civil servants, and business and religious leaders get themselves into trouble when they hold themselves above accepted and expected moral and ethical standards. Not a day goes by where we don’t read in the newspaper or hear on the nightly news the sorry story of someone abusing their authority or taking unfair advantage of their position. A politician accepts a free trip here, a financial officer fudges with a few numbers there, a clergy member closes his or her eyes to the serious problems of others in ministry.
Let’s face it, people in power protect their own mainly for self-preservation. If one bad apple gets exposed, they fear the worst – that the whole bunch gets thrown out. So they cover-up, distract, and evade. Little by little their attention gets so focused on keeping up appearances, that they have no time for real leadership.
These leaders will, of course, deny that they’ve been remiss in their duties. They’ll count off their achievements and good works until we’re persuaded that there really is no need to worry about their frequent moral lapses.
Jesus sees things much differently. Though perfection is not required from those in power, humility is. Humbled servants are who Jesus calls to leadership. Anyone else less is not worthy of the public trust.