The Naked and Broken Leader 1.0

15a26b101 Facing a Naked Preface

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power…
so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing,
and wrapped a towel around his waist. 
After that, he poured water into a basin
and began to wash his disciples’ feet,
drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."
-John 13:3-5

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
-Psalm 51:17


          Prior to these last 12 months or so, I tended to believe, or at least wanted to believe, that the closer I walked with Jesus the more smoothly my life would unfold.  Yes, I knew that hardship was a true part of life, but I was afraid to admit it.  I knew that followers of Jesus suffered pain and persecution and unfair treatment and health problems and material loss, but I had never embraced that as a plan for my life.  My plan, my goal, was to coast happily through in a close walk with God.  My ideal life was a shower of blessing from the God who was near and full of love for me.  Until the last many months, I hadn’t honestly realized how real and raw the pain of following Jesus could be.
          As a “Christian” leader, I have found myself exposed and broken.  That un-covery (a true dis-covering!) has presented me with a vital choice of leadership.  I could pretend and perform to perfection with power… or… I could drop the persona and be vulnerable before God and transparent with others.  Sadly, I’ve witnessed (as we all have!) other “leaders” who opted to hide behind a projected image.  Dynamic and inspirational for a while, the persona eventually is surpassed by the inner actions of the person. 
          I am afraid that God has been stripping me of my robes so that I could see what was underneath.  I am also painfully aware that I’m still clinging to some shreds of camouflage.  For those who struggle with subtraction like me… or who struggle with what Henri Nouwen {1} termed the “downward-moving way of Jesus”  and what Kevin Mannoia {2} has recently called the “downward path” of a spiritual leadership … I must admit that I still have a lot of my broken self to lay bare before God.
          Through the turmoil and chaos, I have learned to be more transparent and vulnerable over the last year.  When serious health crises hit our family, I cried with others… and sometimes yelled at God.  When the sale of my house failed four times over a six month period, I prayed with demanding endurance.  When everything pressed down on me, I learned to sit, breathe and to continue on with Jesus.  For even in the bitterness, I have found the sweetness of following Christ. 
          I loved Jesus when I thought life would be smooth for me.  And I am keenly surprised to discover that I seem to love him more now that I know life won’t be.  Despite the uncertainty and pain, or maybe rather because of it all, I can declare that Jesus is my dearest friend.  He is also my beloved King.  I long to be for him what Jonathon was for David… a following friend who suffered and endured alongside his true King.  As Paul once wrote from prison, so I claim today: Counting everything else a loss for the sake of knowing Jesus, I press on towards the day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.
          So this series of posts, which stems from a major paper for my most recent class, {3} has become a summary of the principles of leadership that I was afraid to embrace.   Foundationally, they are principles that begin in obedient follower-ship stemming out of the ever-deepening love found in Jesus Christ.  From the posture of a servant-follower, true spiritual leadership is born.
          Using Genesis chapter three and John chapter twenty-one as foundational texts, I suggest that brokenness and nakedness are foundational principles to the nature of spiritual leadership. Such principles are not easily believed, let alone practiced.  I’ll present a three fold process whereby the follower of Jesus will be encouraged to integrate the formative spiritual leadership principles of nakedness and brokenness through a deepening love for Jesus and heed to his command to shepherd others.  This equipping process will first involve the disrobing of contemporary leadership models in the face of the unveiling of spiritual leadership.   Secondly, the humble leadership archetype of Jesus necessitates that a leader bare his heart to the Lord.  Thirdly, spiritual leadership implies that one must first learn how to be led by Jesus.  As well, spiritual leadership involves the courageous overcoming of resistance to the antagonistic responses caused by the principles of nakedness and brokenness.  A truly courageous leader willingly embraces the downward principles of nakedness and brokenness so that God may shape him/her for his glory and for the sake of others.

{1} Nouwen, Henri.  In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1989), 81-82.
{2} Mannoia, Kevin W.
Integrity Factor: A Journey in Leadership Formation (Vancouver, BC: Regent Publishing, 1996), 50.
DMN 921: Understanding 21st Century Ministry Leadership- Associated Canadian Theological Schools (ACTS@Trinity Western University) with Dr. Kevin Mannoia.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.