As Christian leaders, we are guided in our practices and approach by a person who spent the last week of his life being hunted by his opponents, betrayed by a disciple, abandoned by a close friend and, ultimately, publicly humiliated on a cross. The final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry were marked by courage, violence, forgiveness and sacrifice. He was celebrated one day and labeled an outlaw just a few days later. Given the spiritual significance of this liturgical moment, how does Holy Week help us to be better leaders?
When we follow Mark’s narrative through Holy Week, the first thing Jesus does when he arrives in Jerusalem is drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple (Mark 11:15). He overturned the tables of money changers. He disrupted the status quo. This is an uncomfortable move for leaders who would rather avoid conflict. The lesson is that there are times when we need to lean into conflict. The only way around some issues is to have the courage to go directly to the root of the problem.
After Jesus made a scene in the temple, elders approached him (Mark 11:27-28). They wanted to know who had authorized him to introduce change. Whenever you seek to lead change, people will question your authority to do so. Those who prefer the old order may question your authority because you’re a woman, because you’re young, because of the school you attended or because of any number of personal characteristics. Be ready. Do you know who called you? What will you say when people question your authority to lead?
As you lead people through Holy Week this year, let Jesus take you on a learning journey. If you can follow him all the way to the cross, there is so much to learn.
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Before you go…
Holy Week is both exhilarating and exhausting. At the beginning of the week, we celebrate Jesus. By the end of the week, we agonize with Jesus. Leaders are not exempt from the ebb and flow between these two realities. As you celebrate Holy Week this year, take note of Jesus’ wisdom and grace. Learn to see the value of small gifts and notice people on the margins, like he did (Mark 12:43). No matter how challenging the path looks, keep moving forward. There’s a new beginning beyond the cross. We just need to get through Holy Week to see it.
Feel free to reach out to me and the Alban Weekly team at email@example.com. Until next week, keep leading!
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity