Hymn-Jesus Loves Me
If you would prefer to listen to today’s sermon, as opposed to reading it, tune into the Quaker Hour on WALH radio at 10 am or 3 pm.
Drum roll please……starting today, Ada Chapel is restarting in-person worship. If anything were to change in the future about in-person worship, we will be sure to keep everyone informed. Here is what you need to know about re-opening:
1.) Friends should not feel pressured to return to meeting if they are not comfortable doing so. Worship will continue to be posted every week on the Ada Chapel blog for Friends who wish to continue worshiping at home.
2.) If you are not feeling well on any given Sunday morning, please stay home. We want to protect those among us who are high-risk.
3.) Masks will not be required, but if you have been wearing one regularly, wearing it to worship is encouraged.
4.) There will be hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes set up throughout the meetinghouse so that Friends can sanitize their hands, and so that we can wipe down common surfaces, such as hand rails, pews, and hymnals.
5.) Friends must spread out in the pews. Sitting in family units is fine, but leave some space between your family and the next family.
6.) Friends must be respectful of other Friends’ space. Congregating after worship, hugging, shaking hands, close talking, etc. is discouraged.
Wilmington Yearly Meeting has decided not to hold this summer’s yearly meeting sessions in person, but to hold them via Zoom. Yearly meeting sessions are July 23-26, 2020. As we receive more information about the schedule, we will announce it.
Our country. All those who are in harm’s way. All of those who are sick, or who have loved ones who are sick. Healthcare workers, first responders, and all those who continue to potentially expose themselves to infection. Our neighborhood and our community. The family and friends of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks. Wilmington Yearly Meeting. Our leaders in all levels of government. People in the recovery community. Parents, children, the elderly, and others who are isolated. Everyone who is feeling discouraged. All of those who have lost jobs, or who are struggling financially during this time. The young people of WYM who won’t get to go to camp this summer. Those who are grieving. Those who are feeling anxious about the spikes in COVID 19 infections.
Hymn- Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go
Meditative Moment (Followed by silent worship)
Wilmington Yearly Meeting Revised Queries #7: Do I treat my employees, colleagues, and supervisors with Christian love?
Matthew 20:20-28: Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
One thing that human beings love to do—no matter how we’re raised, where we’re from, or what time period we live in—is build boxes. This is a universal survival skill that we all possess. Boxes help us to tame the unknown, and they help us to better understand the things that are going on in the world around us. So, we relish in establishing structures for how we want things to work, and in creating systems through which we can effectively solve problems. We enjoy drawing up “how-to’s” and other behavioral guidelines for how we want our societies and the people living in them to function. We love to construct little square houses with perfect corners for us to live and to work in, according to the rules that we have decided work. And then—like clockwork—Jesus shows up every single time, and He kicks it all over like a tower of blocks. He knocks our boxes, our “how-to’s”—everything that we have painstakingly built in the name of our definition of order—right down to the ground, and offers us a better way to do things.
That’s exactly what Jesus does in today’s story. John and James—along with their mother—approach Jesus with a request that anyone who is familiar with the concept of the American dream can identify with. They want to be the best out of all twelve of the disciples. They want to be the successful ones in their chosen field—the top dogs. They want recognition. They want to climb what is the discipleship version of the corporate ladder. They want that corner office on the top floor with the awesome view, and their mother—who might have been the original aggressive PTO mom—wants what is best for her sons. She wants to see them achieve their goals and for good things to come to them. So, she accompanies them on their mission to ask Jesus for some employee of the month type of benefits. She asks Jesus for a guarantee that her sons will sit on the left and right side of Jesus in the Kingdom.
Jesus, bless His heart, tells her that she does not realize what she is asking. And He isn’t saying that in a condescending sort of way. His response is a gentle way of beginning the process of tearing apart some human constructed boxes and toppling over a few towers. Jesus explains to John, James, their mother—and later the other ten disciples—that being the top dog seems glamorous, but in reality, it is not. In God’s world order—the way that He originally designed this world, and the way that He wants it to eventually be—being first does not mean that you get to lead a lifestyle where peons do all the dirty work, all while you enjoy comfort, economic security, and an all-you-can eat buffet. Instead, being first means that you will be thrust into the position of a servant. It means that you will be making sacrifices, putting others first, investing in your neighbors, getting messy, taking risks, and doing all sorts of things that will probably make you very uncomfortable. Jesus, in His metaphorical sort of way, tells his friends that being the top dog is a privilege, just not in the way that John, James, and their mother were initially thinking that it was.
Leadership is labeled as a spiritual gift in that same Romans 12 passage that we’ve been breaking down over the past several weeks. In it, Paul tells the people who possess the gift of leadership to lead diligently. When we talk about leadership—both in church settings, and in secular ones—we tend to fall into the same mindset that John, James, and their mother were stuck in when they asked Jesus for a favor. So often, we think of leaders as those ultra-rich CEOs who spend more time at the golf course than at their own companies. But people like that aren’t really leaders. They may be the boss. They may technically be in charge of something. They might sign the paychecks, make financial decisions, or officially write the rulebooks. They may be listed on a plaque, or mentioned on the year-end financial report. But they aren’t really leaders. They are people with big names, hiding behind power and titles, all the while doing nothing positive for the organization or for the people working for it. There is a huge difference in simply being at the top of the hierarchy and in being a leader.
Leaders, as Jesus explains to the Twelve and to an over-zealous mother, are folks who get in the trenches with the people who they are supposed to be leading. They make contributions towards getting the work done, rather than standing off to the side, bossing everyone around. They don’t take all of the credit for a job well done—they spread the praise around—and they also own up to making mistakes. Leaders don’t pass the blame onto someone else. Good leaders are invested in the people who they are leading. They care about them as human beings, and have an interest in their well-being. They are unselfish. They consider the greatest good, as opposed to what would personally benefit them. Leaders are humble. They can share their power, and they collaborate in order to allow everyone to have full participation in a project. Leaders know when they have reached the end of the rope on their own abilities, and when to defer to someone with more experience or expertise. Basically, good leaders know that it isn’t about them as individuals, but rather—about the collective group and about working together for a common goal.
People who possess the gift of leadership understand the difference in being a boss and in being a leader. They know that it is going to be hard and thankless work, but they do it anyway, with diligence, humility, patience, and strength. They are usually in it for the right reasons, too. Leaders do it because they have been called to lead, and that stirring from God won’t leave them—as opposed to being in it for control, power, money, or fame. People with the gift of leadership model themselves after Jesus in the way that they treat their team and in the way that they view their role on that team, whether they actively realize that they are doing that or not.
The gift of leadership is a versatile spiritual gift. Really, all of the spiritual gifts are versatile, but leadership is so practical and important in so many different spheres that it just seems more versatile than all the rest. Some followers of Jesus with the spiritual gift of leadership are called to be leaders within their individual churches, or within their denominations. From an Ada Chapel or a Wilmington Yearly Meeting perspective, maybe you have the chops to be a clerk, or to serve in an essential way on a committee. Maybe you have what it takes to lead a conversation about finances, to ensure that historical materials are being handled properly, to help new ideas come into fruition, or to provide youth programming out at Quaker Knoll. Perhaps you are skilled at day-to-day church operations—keeping the grass mowed, paying the bills, cleaning the building—planning get-togethers and potlucks. Or maybe, you are more of a spiritual leader. Perhaps you have what it takes to lead a Bible study, a seeker group, or a fellowship hour. Maybe you would be a crackerjack song leader, worship leader, Sunday school teacher, or preacher. In a church setting, there are many, many ways that a person who is a gifted leader can use their talents. Quakers believe that all people are called to be ministers, so we don’t necessarily have a view of church where the pastor is the person in charge, but in some denominations they are. And let me tell you something—there is no pastor alive who is gifted or able to lead a church in every single different way in which a church needs to be led. Multiple leaders within one church who are gifted, called, and who have the time to put into leading are always needed and always appreciated.
Followers of Jesus can also be called to use their gifts of leadership in their secular workplaces. Every organization needs a good leader. Companies who have bosses instead of leaders suffer from high turnover, low productivity, and employee dissatisfaction. A good leader in the workplace has a way of making employees feel valued and heard. And that always translates into creativity, productivity, and a positive work environment. Good leaders have a way of reflecting the love of Christ into their workplaces without preaching a word about Jesus to anyone. They simply let their lives speak, and it makes a major difference at their workplace. People who work 40 hours per week spend roughly 2080 hours per year at work, so if you are called to make your workplace a more loving and positive place with your gift of leadership, then I encourage you to do that.
Or maybe, you are a gifted leader and a follower of Jesus, but you are being called to a different venue. Like I said, leadership is versatile. There are lots of possible venues. Maybe you have what it takes to run for a political office. Perhaps your particular leadership skills are needed at a local charity, or at a local agency. Maybe you are called to be a community organizer. I know I made a slight at the PTO earlier, but maybe you’re called to be the PTO president at your child’s school! Gifted leaders are needed everywhere. And I truly believe that God wants gifted leaders in a variety of places, simply because they spread His love so effectively wherever they are at.
So, this week, as we continue to learn about spiritual gifts and discern which ones we might have, I’d like to encourage you all to give a little thought to the gift of leadership. Is this a spiritual gift that you possess? If so, where might God be asking you to use this spiritual gift? Which venue or venues might be yours? How might you already be using the spiritual gift of leadership? Do you feel that you are serving God and others where you’re at, or is there a role that you feel led to slide into? Are there any roles that you are feeling led to give up? How might you be able to grow as a leader and support the people who you lead better? Pray that God will guide you and help you along the way.
If leadership is not one of your spiritual gifts, then is it helpful for you to be able to tell the difference between a good leader and a boss? Are the leaders in your life truly leaders, or are they lacking? How might you be able to encourage them—in a loving, non-shameful way, of course—to grow? Are you comfortable sharing with the leaders in your life how they can better support you, and also the ways in which they have done a good job? Pray for the leaders in your life that they would spread love of Christ through their actions and treat others—including you—as Jesus would treat them.
And if you are not sure if leadership is a gift that you have or not—if you are on the fence—consider a few times when you were in charge of something, or of a group of people. Did it feel right to you, or did you wish that you were playing a different role? Did you end up enjoying it? Why or why not? What were the reasons why you did or didn’t like it? Could you imagine yourself wanting to do it again? And keep in mind, that like any spiritual gift, nobody is a perfect leader all of the time. If you didn’t exhibit all of the characteristics of a good leader, or if you made a mistake, give yourself some grace, and pray that God will help you to discern where your spiritual gifts might lay.
Stay healthy and be well, Friends. And may you experience some helpful spiritual and personal exploration this week.
Hymn- This Little Light of Mine
Ada Chapel Prayer
Father, we thank thee for the night; and for the blessed morning light. For rest and food, and loving care; and all that makes the world so fair. Help us do the things we should; to be to others kind and good. In all we do, and all we say; to grow more loving every day. Amen