Friday, February 10, 2012
Jesus, I've Got Your Ass
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” (Matthew 21:1-3)
At some point, Jesus slipped away from his followers and found a man with a donkey and a new colt. Jesus told the man that at some point a couple of his followers would be coming around asking to borrow the donkey. Evidently the man had some type of relationship with Jesus (of which we know nothing except by implication) but it was strong enough for Jesus to borrow something of value. And when asked, the man must have said, "Jesus, I've got your ass." Jesus thanked him and returned to his disciples.
Every leader has followers by definition. One of the great problems of leadership is that sometimes its hard to know if people are following you or chasing you. Leaders have lots of arrows thrown at them. Usually those darts are tossed by enemies or people who are not adherents to the leaders' cause. Ocassionally the barbs are by well-meaning followers who help the leader manage his blindside (because every person, including great leaders, have areas of their personal and professional lives that they just can't see). But a few times the leader is shot by followers who react to something he (or she) has done or said.
It into those slings and arrows that a few trusted people must be willing to insert themselves. These are key people that the leader has invested in over the course of months or years. These are people who have had some personal time with the leader and who the leader is grooming for their own positions of leadership. These are people who are present or future leaders - they know that they, too, will suffer attacks from friends and foes. But for now, they are willing to absorb some of the blows thrown at a leader and explain to the dart-throwers why the leader is doing what he is because they understand the bigger picture. These are people who can say to the leader, "I've got your back."
Jesus spent some time with a guy who would play a critical role just a few days before the crucifixion. It may be that the man had waited for months or years for his time; we don't know and it doesn't matter. We do know that he stepped forward when asked. Are you grooming new generation leaders? Are you teaching them the perils of leadership? Are you helping them to explain to others about leadership decisions that come from big visions? Are you helping them to know that at some point, they need to say to you and mean it, "Lead on and don't worry about your back because, I've got your ass."