Currently I am studying the book of James in the New Testament. It is a book that rivals Proverbs for its wisdom and application to everyday life. It also points us to real commitment to Christ-in the midst of regular, daily persecutions.
A couple of things have caught my attention for leaders in the early verses. In verse one James identifies himself as a “slave (better translation than “servant”) of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”. Yet most scholars agree that the author in question is the half brother of Jesus and the one who becomes the early leader of the Jerusalem church. My point is that he could have claimed some serious status. He could have traveled about letting everyone know his pedigree-but instead he claims the high road by being subservient. He recognizes that his half brother is the Master of the universe-very God. And he rightfully sees himself as a slave to this King of kings. James valued submission over status. My problem most days is that I value status over submission. I want to be king-not submit to one. But doing so has everything to do with being a Christ-centered leader and to living out 1:2-4.
In James 1:2-4 the author tells us to “count” and to “let”. When (note “when” not “if”) we encounter trials of every kind we are to count them as joy and we are to let these faith tests lead to endurance and the end result of Christ-like character. I see another problem within me-I value comfort over Christ-like character. Usually when I encounter trials I respond with anger and cry out that there is injustice. I don’t receive trials as faith tests-I stiff arm them and block their intended result.
So I often value status over submission and comfort over Christ-like character. They seem intertwined to me-to rightly see trials I have to rightly relate to Jesus. As I choose to be a “slave leader” I will be in a far better position to rightly estimate leadership trials and difficulties and let them point me to the one who wants to redeem me fully.