The Bible’s New Testament: The Gospel of John IV: Jesus Rolls up His Sleeves and Leads by Example

When I was a server, I dreaded when a good server moved into management.  Sure, there was always a learning curve for the new position, but I was bracing for the cardinal mistake I’d seen countless managers make: they forgot what it was like to be a server. For whatever reason, they lost touch with knowing how to work the floor, how and when to step in if a server was in the weeds, and how to make sure the flow of the restaurant made sense to the people that were charged with working it: the servers.  They made sure the host or hostess didn’t slam a particular station, which—when it happened—lead to other sections being slammed later as well as backing up the kitchen.  Slammed servers tend to take a bunch of orders at once, which slams the kitchen.

The worst managers offered a lot of textbook phrases about staying motivated throughout service and then hid in the office once they unlocked the front door.

I’ve felt this same issue translate to teaching, as I’ve seen a number of young teachers (and even some veterans) overload their students with assignments, neglect to provide prompt feedback on essays, and delay grading exams. You need to recall what it was like to be a student, I want to tell them. Sadly, I don’t know that they would listen.

A student’s job is to conform to the teacher’s standards, not the other way around. That’s why he or she is in charge, right? Just like servers are to fall in line with the manager, not the other way around, right?

Each Gospel has a few unique stories about Jesus, and most of these are pretty interesting, adding a different dimension to my impression of him.  One of the ones I appreciate the most is the example Jesus sets on the night of the Last Supper. As the meal was being served, he removes most of his clothes, fills a basin with water, and washed his disciples’ feet, even drying them with the towel around his waist when he was finished (13:4-5). When he was done with everyone, he explained himself – you are not better than those you serve (13:16).  He wanted them to follow his example and eliminate the master/slave paradigm.

This seems like a crucial part of that last night for Jesus. Yet it only appears in John.  All the other Gospels contain the Last Supper scene.  Aside from all of the miracles Jesus is purported to have performed, this seems one of THE moments that demonstrates just how strong and important of a leader Jesus was. One could perhaps roll their eyes at the miracle—yeah, prove they happened.  Here, though, is an action that demonstrates a point in a way that anyone could relate to—and learn from.  Why not include it in ALL of the Gospels?

So often you hear about and see leaders who are content to let their words do the talking. Few appear willing (or even capable) of rolling up their sleeves and setting an example through their actions. Jesus was apparently not opposed—and even embraced—leading by example. Given this, is easy to see why so many people lined up to listen to what he had to say.


About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: Follow his work at:
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