Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
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Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
Having authority. If you think you need to hold a high position to have some authority, then you need to think again. The Lord did not live in a mansion. He did not attend an Ivy League school. He was not a millionaire and He definitely did not have any direct role in military or governmental matters. So where did His authority come from? From His morality.
Sure, Jesus is the Son of God, His Father has his back. But you would never know it by the way His Father allowed others to treat Him! From the Gospels, one could easily think that if the Lord’s almighty power came from on high, then it surely got dissipated way before it ever touched the ground. And if His titles came from high above as well, then they either got lost in the translation or they were too lofty for anyone to care.
As Christians we know Christ’s authority came from His Father. But like a good son, he made a name for himself.
Like Father, like son. Kim Jong-un, the atheist dictator of North Korea, leads his country by intimidation and repression. He leads like his father. And like all “good” dictators, he kills his opponents without skipping a beat, even if they happen to be close relatives. But fear does not make for very good followers, nor does it make for very good advisors. Those who follow do so because they have to. And while Jong’s authority might appear to be rock solid, it is as fragile and frail as they get. And things that are fragile and frail don’t last long.
God the Father made sure His Son did not enjoy any special privileges. As we all know, the Lord worked his way down and back up again. Christ lived during humble times, in a humble setting and among humble people. He lived as the servant of servants. Because of this, we honor Him today as the King of kings.
Authority does not come from others. It comes from personhood. “People will follow you because of who you are and what you represent. In other words, they respect you and the reason why they respect you is because you are a man of integrity” (John Maxwell, The 360 Leader).
If a person relies solely on their position to influence others, it won’t be long until they are replaced with someone else. Therefore, you do not have to be the CEO or President of an organization in order to lead effectively. You simply need to learn how to lead up, lead down and lead across.
The Lord’s most effective moment in leadership came when he allowed himself to be nailed to the Cross for his people…for all of us.
We know that true authority always comes from above. But have we forgotten that it leads from behind? The secret to success isn’t to be hungry for more power. It’s to be hungry for more humility! The Lord empowered us to become children of God. Let’s follow His example.
This morning I celebrated Mass at a very prestigious all-girls Catholic high school. I told them our greatest hope for them was to see them land senior leadership positions throughout society, including the media, politics and business. But I also reminded them of our greatest fear: that their success would go to their brain, not their heart. “We have seen what happens to people who let power go to their brain. We have seen this throughout history. Our greatest hope is that you imitate our Lord and lead by His example; that you become a servant of servants.” (0)
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