This spring, as I pulled weeds and thinned flowers and runaway plants with bad boundaries, I worried that the gardens at my new house would be too sparse. Things were overgrown; the prior owner’s health had prevented her from keeping things in a Versaille-like order. As I started weeding and thinning, I was heavy-handed in pulling things. When the weeding was over, I carefully top-dressed all the bare spaces with organic compost and popped in nasturtium seeds here and there.
Whatever sins I committed in pruning could easily be flowered over with a delicate shawl of nasturtiums. They wrapped themselves around the bare shoulders of a newly planted Maltese Cross or the showy and naked Globe Thistle. They provided a blaze of color, too. For the last month, they’ve really given their all and done the job I’d planted them to do. They did not disappoint.
I’ve tried to find the right light and the best angle to photograph these workhorses of the garden. My camera disappoints me.
As lovely as they are, nasturtiums haven’t been primary in my mind this past week. I’ve been thinking about an e-mail from a friend. She’s going to give a “talk” to a volunteer organization later this month, a “motivational speech” of sorts and I’m making tentative plans to attend. She tipped me off to her topic in her note:
“I’m thinking about ‘sacrifice’ for my talk.”
It’s not a very sexy topic. From time to time, “servant leadership” waxes and wanes in business schools and a new book or speaker on the topic might trend on social media. Is there a Jeopardy question about it? The theory sometimes props up Jesus as the model of a “servant leader.” I was thinking about these things over the weekend and ironically, the church reading was the very passage I had been thinking about. The apostle Paul wrote this to a group of Christians, as a reminder of sacrifice and humility:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
The passage goes on to discuss the “servant leadership” of Jesus further. It’s the book of Philippians, chapter 2, verses 5 through 8.
In the last week, I’ve had a chance to disconnect from social media more than usual and enjoy some quiet, unwired time. On the occasions when I’ve peeked at the news or social media, I’ve seen many examples of seeming sacrifice.
“Look at me dumping a giant bucket of ice water over my head.”
“Look at me walking with hundreds of others, laughing and eating fundraising-walk-sized energy bars.”
“Look at me giving blood.”
“Look at me pulling weeds.”
I tell myself it’s for a good cause. I’m raising awareness. I’m showing my Moxie. I “like” the pictures I see of others doing good things. Sometimes I wonder to myself “why am I posting this? Who does it benefit?” In spite of the many images I might share and the ones I may remark on, there is a dearth of conversation about humility and sacrifice in the collective vocabulary. It’s like trying to capture the warm ethos of nasturtiums with an old i-phone camera. The picture leaves something out.
I’m glad my friend is going to broach the subject of sacrifice in her “talk.” She’s bright and articulate and no stranger to sacrifice. A snapshot of her life doesn’t immediately reveal these things and she rarely talks about them. When she does, she speaks in a whisper.
She hardly ever posts things on social media.
I’m looking forward to her talk. I’m going to take notes.
I’m thinking of the sacrifice you’re making keeping your old ithing, and how it’s a tragedy you don’t already have a new ithing6 in your hands. Perhaps we should try to crowdsource one for you …
Funny thing is, we might debate just what Jesus was here for, but I think we can all roundly agree that he wasn’t here to provide a model for corporate leadership, or for that matter, corporate submission.
Indeed, the idea of “servant leadership” is an oxymoron, isn’t it?
Corporate (Corpus) Jesus (Christi) ie. The body of Christ. If He is/was and always will be who he said He is/was and always will be. Then He is the ideal for the model of Corporate leadership and Corporate submission. Submitting in all things to the One who sent Him even unto death.
While watching “Band of Brothers” with my brother, he points out a good many things to me but among those, when we are watching a scene with Winters (“see that’s someone who has what it takes to lead others” he’ll say) and when we are watching Dike (ie. the jerk) “see, even though he had the rank he didn’t have the stuff a true leader is made of.” There’s a ton more about who designed what gun and tank, rounds and so far, I won’t go into.
Back to corporate: The story of the Prodigal son is a really good example of how those who are really blessed with abundance can be so self-centered and selfish and use everything they’ve been given for their own selfish pleasures, that they don’t even realize they’re lacking some very important ingredients until they have an empty belly and they are into some really deep S H I T.
The Turning point arrives.
That moment, the window, the spot in time where the self- has failed utterly and a sincere cry for help goes out from the heart, mind and soul. “Something please help me. I don’t even know who you are, or if you are really there or you can hear, but I can’t do this on my own, I need your help.”
There are millions of stories around the globe of how the Power of God, through grace has transformed people and lives and history. I don’t know if the word servant comes from the word service or the other way around- I don’t really care. Christ was the example of servant to his Father in Heaven, through Him, he did us a great service and those who by His grace are called to serve others and (do so imperfectly) lead others to Him by their example. We also can see that just because someone serves; their heart isn’t always where it ought to be, such as the brother who stayed behind. It matters not, in each one’s story at some point…if the heart isn’t where it ought to be it is something each individual has to address.
House Elf @ your service 🙂
Well, Slipper, who can say if Jesus could run Bank of America better than CEO Ken Lewis. I do think there is a quality to service, however, that requires emptying oneself and seeing the material world for what it is. A vapor…
It’s always interesting when you stop by. Thank you!