“When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” Matthew 25:38-39 NIV.
As I continue my read through the scriptures, curiosity seemed to hold my attention around the two questions above; noteworthy, the similarity in the questions asked of the Christ, by these two distinctly different groups referred to by Jesus as the sheep and the goats.
The first group, the righteous, seemed caught off guard that they were being commended by the Lord for their work with strangers, the needy, the sick and incarcerated. My guess is they were doing nothing special in their eyes, simply serving, doing what regular people should do.
The second group, almost in a “how dare you moment,” are also totally oblivious to his inquiry. In their case, clueless as to the needy around them, even missing the point of the conversation, as they inquire about when they had ever seen Jesus, in particular hungry, or needy, let alone in prison? They were “righteous” and they knew it, self-righteous, while the first group, the truly righteous, was fully unaware of “self.”
In moments like this, the eternal value and truth captured within scripture becomes evident, probing our motives for service. Righteousness seems a gift imparted, not a task to be achieved. That impartation may come both in life’s sudden “wake-up” moments, as well as being seasoned over time, like the affection that grows between a child and soft toy, cuddled for years. My daughter, now an adult, still keeps that pink puppy nearby, given to her as a birthday gift in third grade. By the way, she is now an assistant principal! Pardon the pride!
It’s difficult to process the spiritual side of leadership, as we are broken and easily deluded; in fact, humans hardly know when true righteousness is manifest through them, but others readily recognize it, especially the needy and small children. Servant Leadership is not necessarily righteousness in itself, and for some, simply another self-improvement technique to be mastered. Yet, as one grows older, the spiritual measure necessary to qualify one’s leadership as servant-like becomes more readily apparent and sought after, its distinguishing characteristics setting apart the “do-gooders” from the true change agents.
God help us lead in love, not only among those who can help achieve our life goals, but also the least among us, those who always have the eye of the Father.