Scripture: Mark 8:34-9:1
Key verse: (34) “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Reflection: “Leadership is essentially about self.” That’s how the teacher at the first family systems class I ever attended began his opening lecture. I thought, “That’s the most un-Christian thing I’ve ever heard!” At the heart of our faith is Christ’s call in today’s passage to deny ourselves and take up the cross and follow him. How can any Christian leader think leadership is about self?
What my teacher meant is that leadership is essentially about self-understanding, knowing one’s self, being comfortable in your own skin, being clear in your own vision and values. At the time, however, I couldn’t believe what he was saying.
After a back and forth intended to get me to answer that for myself we arrived at a conclusion that self-denial for a Christian was about refusing to impose our will, our wants, our demands on others. Rather we should focus on answering our call — taking up our own cross, and following Jesus. Taking up the cross is about living out our love for one another and for the world, but living out that love does not mean imposing our will on another. When we can “stay in our own skin,” deny imposing ourselves on others, then we live into who we are called to be. In the process we encourage others to do the same.
Who do you say Jesus is? How will you live in response to your answer?
Prayer: Grant me eyes to see myself clearly, O Lord; not only my need for your grace, but the gifts you give me by that grace, and the call you have for me in my life. Then grant me the courage to respond to that calling, to take up my cross and follow you in the way of self-offering love. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].