By Vidalis Lopez
New Covenant UMC, The Villages, FL
First, read Luke 20:1-8
“You are not the boss of me!” These are the words often heard around family dining tables, at work and school settings. If not expressed publicly, these words lurk people’s mind more often than not. I admit, I have thought this countless times.
Luke 20:1-8 presents a confrontation between the community leaders and Jesus. Jesus’ authority is under scrutiny. The scribes and chief priests want to trick Jesus and destroy his credibility, identity, and ultimately his authority. The leadership tries to catch Jesus in error testing him in his personal, political and theological positions. Despite the evidence at hand, those leaders do not want to believe that Jesus had the right to do what he was doing. And when Jesus responds with another question, these leaders refuse to take a position on the issue that required a decision.
How dare those leaders question the authority of Jesus? It is easy to blame those leaders who wanted to ridicule Jesus. But what about when we find ourselves deciding on issues of authority today? Often, change may trigger our resistance. Often, the authority of others “over” our ways irritate our individuality. This is part of our everyday life, and it calls us to discern, to surrender, and to engage in the process.
For a few years in the late 90s, I worked as a social worker; my main task was to investigate alleged reports of abuse of children and all individuals unable to protect themselves. Typically, I dealt with children, victims of abuse and/or negligence. After completing a thorough assessment, I determined whether immediate physical removal of a victim was necessary, or if an intervention plan without a removal best suited the victim and the family in crisis.
Negligence - the hardest form of abuse to prove is the most common hardship many children face in our communities. Sadly, I faced too many parents or caregivers reluctant to comply. And over and over again, I heard the shouts, “you are not the boss of me!”
Many times I remember wanting to quit because I did not want to take a stand and face the battle. There were times when fear overwhelmed me because I doubted my capability. How could I, a stranger, snatch kids away from what they know and who they love, what if I got it wrong? Other times, my heart hardened towards the alleged offenders, the only change I hoped for was punishment rather than redemption.
Jesus practices exemplary leadership as he faces confrontation: he grants an opportunity for the leaders to practice honesty over hypocrisy. Jesus asks a question that promotes self-examination. Jesus invites the leaders to consider options. Jesus allows for a teaching moment attesting to John the Baptist as “evidence”. Jesus finished that conversation without force but faithful to the authority bestowed upon him.
Prayer: Lord, you unveil hidden things. You make clear misunderstood things. You revive forgotten things. You, O Lord, are the Great Revealer. Help us persevere. Equip us with courage, that we might confess that we are lost with you, that we have no truth without abiding in you, that we have no way without following you. We thank you for your expectations and your relentless offers, for loving us too deeply and too dearly to leave us alone. You seek to enlighten us with your understanding, your insights, your words, and your wisdom, but sometimes we are seeing, yet we don’t see. Lord, create in us a clean heart and a right mind. Let our deeds speak so loudly that the hearers of our words will become the doers of your word. In Christ name, Amen.
- When you exercise a role of authority and decisions depend on you, how (and if) do you incorporate the practice of discerning, surrendering, and engaging?
- Are our finite decisions ever final?
- How can you grow your leadership practices to be more like Jesus?