Love in Action

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, . . .

John 13:1 (NIV)

Clear vision, love, authority, and submission combine to form the servant leader. Understanding the vision takes constant vigilance. Jesus sets the stage for servant leadership clearly and definitively throughout John 13. He washes the disciples’ feet, claims his leadership, tells them to do likewise, sees what is out ahead, and confronts Peter.

The first directive of leadership here is love. Jesus loved those closest to him—those he was given to lead. He reiterates that sentiment through His prayer to the Father in John 17. The inference is clear. You can change the world, but to do so you start with loving the people closest to you—those given to you to lead.

Jesus expresses his love and demonstrates how leaders must lead. They lead by serving the needs—not the wants—of those given them. This directive is a difficult task in many ways. Humbling ourselves is an ego exercise that leads to a healthy understanding of submission. A far more subtle and therefore more difficult task is to recognize the needs of others so that they may reach their potential rather than just serving desires. It is hard to sort wants, desires, and needs. That’s where clear vision is imperative.

How does Peter respond to Jesus’ leadership? Initially, Peter refuses to let Jesus serve him.

"Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."

Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" John 13:6-9 NIV

Then Peter realizes that to fully participate with Jesus he needs to be served by Jesus. Peter then jumps in and wants a full-service treatment. Jesus assures Peter about what he needs—forget the foolish desires.

Jesus reiterates his call to love. Leadership is love in action. Love gives and love receives in perfect balance.