The ability to break

Oct 5, 2016 by

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Our vision of leadership seems most informed by the common urge to win. A good leader is defined as someone who leads to victory and growth. However, to limit ourselves to this as the only description of good leadership might be to misunderstand our very character as followers of Jesus Christ.

The church is God’s representation of the sacrificial love displayed in Christ. It is correct to declare the redemptive power of Jesus. Lives can be transformed. But could it be that the transforming power of Jesus is best revealed from a place of brokenness?

The biblical account of God’s redemptive strategy seems to suggest this. The incarnation initiated the redemptive strategy from a place of vulnerability rather than strength: an infant. The pronouncement is to the politically weak rather to those of influence: shepherds. The birth is in a stable rather than a palace.

Jesus is raised in Nazareth rather than Jerusalem. His following is secured with common-folk fishermen rather than the religious establishment. The triumphant entry is on the back of a common donkey. And as we know, the defining moment of secured victory is the cross: death and suffering.

There is a lesson here in leadership that we must not ignore. For Jesus, death is the new beginning; failure is the victory.

Yet as followers of Jesus Christ, we resist weakness. We despise failure.

Even in our history, the church is strongest when it is weak. The church seems to grow strongest when driven into hiding by persecution. This has been evidenced in many examples: China and Ethiopia, to name just two.

I don’t think that God rejects strength. But I do think the most effective way to relate to a broken world is from a place of brokenness. It is where we most clearly display the passionate and radical love of God.

Maybe the church is strongest when it is weak because that is when it is easiest for us to break and take on the brokenness of our Savior. As Mennonite Anabaptists, we recognize that the church is the broken body of Christ for the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, we can be comfortable with embracing vulnerability and brokenness. We are most effective when we feel the weakest.

May we never lose the ability to break so that we never fail to portray the transforming love of our sacrificial Lord.

Willard Metzger is executive director of Mennonite Church Canada. He writes here, where this blog post originally appeared.

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