The Most Powerful Person in the Room


All who are blessed with the gift of leadership will at some point discover they are the most powerful person in a group.  It may be when an older sibling realizes the influence they can bear on the youngsters or when an adult is promoted to a position of authority.  How we handle power is key to successful leadership, as a Christian the decision  is absolutely critical.

Popular culture will beg for us to wield the power like a weapon.

Christian example will inspires us to wield power like a servant.

The Gospel of John records that on the Passover Feast before his crucifixion Jesus realized he was the most powerful man in the world with ALL things under his power, a power given by God:

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God

There is no other example of a man realizing more power, any power we may have is minute in comparison.  The real lesson from the most powerful man to ever live is what he did with that power…

…he washed his followers feet.

Imagine a newly appointed Chief Executive Officer walking into a conference room  with his sleeves rolled up and a towel over his shoulder as he kneels to untie the shoes of a subordinate, “Here Charles let me wash these for you.”  Outrageous!  It ‘s far easier to imagine the that same CEO stomping into the room, firing the first employee he sees, then pounding his fist on the desk until people start to move.

The message to the Christian leader is not to literally wash your followers feet (even though it would have a profound and positive impact on them if you did) but to approach your responsibility as a leader with the same humble heart of a servant that Jesus did on that Passover:

…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.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to 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!”

Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 12:4-17 NIV)

Andy Stanley on his leadership podcast explains that leadership reverberation is what happens when you figure out a way to leverage your power for the benefit of others

If we leverage our power for our sake is to declare that Jesus didn’t leverage his power for his sake but I’m greater than Jesus, I deserve more honor, I’m in a more esteemed position than my Savior.  To do anything less than this is to declare consciously or unconsciously that you are greater than your master.

Stanley goes on to quote King George III who allegedly said when he learned that George Washington intended to reject the position of emperor of the United States of America , “If he does that he will be the greatest man in the world.”  The translation, if president Washington refuses to use his own power for his own benefit he will be the greatest man in the world.

Christ’s leadership lesson:

  • Leverage power for the benefit of others
  • Be an example to emulate
  • Leader’s are teachers

“The beauty of empowering others is that your own power is not diminished in the process.” – Barbara Colorose

About the author

Greg Chaney

1 comment

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  • Greg— great job with the visual and the audio! Just listened to some of the class audio again. I’m totally impressed. This needs wider dissemination and access!

By Greg Chaney

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