Leaders and Potatoes

Last night we had the potato bar fundraiser for Kansas Youth Chorus. No, we weren’t serving, um . . . potato drinks to get people having a good time so they would give more money. They paid first to help us go on a choir tour and we let them eat loaded baked potatoes in exchange.

We do it this way because if the people would eat the potatoes and afterward decide they weren’t that great, at least they’ve already paid their money even if they didn’t like the potatoes. It would just be awkward for them to walk back to the cash box and take some of their money out. (hence the order of operations) Dislike for the potatoes has never been a problem. They’re delicious, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure. (Don’t tell anyone but I think the real reason is because we’ve just always done it this way.)

It was, as usual a good time of working and interaction with friends. Most of what I did, involved serving ice cream and saying strange things to Matt, who was helping me. I am not an ice cream eater but had an unusual craving for ice cream last night. I think it was partially because I was really hungry, but I ate more ice cream last evening than I have in quite a while. I ate very huge bowl of the stuff and didn’t even finish it because it was just too much.

People were being industrious and everyone seemed to be enjoying the social interaction of working together. Among those working was my good friend John, our choir director. John is younger than me, but I admire him a lot. He is a good leader and I always kind of wondered why. He doesn’t have an in your face personality, but he knows how to take responsibility and is willing to do what it takes to get things done.

I thought of this last night. I think if I would be the choir director, I would feel like I could just chill at the potato bar and let everyone else work because I spend a lot more time on choir stuff than anyone else. I would probably feel I was important enough that I could just hang out with the patrons and tell them about our tour and ask them if they were enjoying their meal, sort of like a restaurant owner or something.

John was cheerfully working at mixing ice cream for the desert and when it came time to do the clean-up after the whole thing was over, he helped until things were pretty much wrapped up. I think people like that are so cool, because that doesn’t come naturally for me. I really have to focus when work is being done because I’m prone to doing goofy and strange things, instead of concentrating on making sure the work gets done.

I think Jesus really knew what He was talking about when He told his disciples that if they want to be leaders, they have to be servants. Leaders show the ones under them what they are supposed to not just by telling them that they should do stuff. The best ones show by example. They help those under them accomplish tasks by involving themselves in the tasks directly, not just pushing people around and acting authoritative.

Not very many of us like working for someone, who isn’t interested in doing any work himself, but just likes sitting in his throne waving his scepter about and telling his loyal subjects what to do. I like it when someone who is in charge of something, takes enough interest in the work to do some of the actual work himself. He doesn’t look at himself as being above certain types of work, just because he’s in authority.

Obviously, we need people in management positions. We need people to be in charge of things; people who walk around and make sure the right things are happening.

The best leaders, however, are willing to show by example. People learn most effectively when their teachers come down to their level. Jesus did this when He washed His disciples feet. We all know with the way the disciples were, that if He would have simply said, “Wash each other’s feet,” the first thing they would have done, is argue who should do it first. I think  Jesus knew this.

He simply washed their feet, then told them they should do the same for each other. This probably made a big impression on them, because most of them believed that Jesus was God’s Son. The idea of having God’s Son wash your feet sounds pretty far out, not to mention backward. But they probably thought about this and thought, “Well if Jesus did it for us, He’s probably serious about this.” It was obviously much more effective this way.

Leaders have to be willing to serve. If you want to be a visionary, a person who drives things forward, be sure you are willing to give of yourself. People will soon discover if you’re self centered and just want to order people around. They won’t want to help. They’ll find something else to do. They’ll find another battle to fight.

If you want to be a good leader, first, figure out how to be the best servant you can be.


2 comments on “Leaders and Potatoes

  1. Andrew says:

    Amen, bro.

  2. People follow a leader willingly when he shows he cares about them. Being a servant like Jesus and being willing to “wash the feet” of his followers captures the heart of followers. Very well written article! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts.

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