God has a voice for every generation and through years of warfare Christian leadership responded to the call to servant-hood. In this generation the call has changed, from sacrificial love to friendship.
For many older Christians, their earliest memories from Sunday School include the prayer of St Ignatius:
Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will.
How many men and women went into ministry with that prayer in their hearts. No one taught them how to lead; the words of Jesus in Mark 10:42-45 simply re-enforced the dedication to sacrificial love that was already part of their Christian identity.
…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Soon they were all things to all people. An expectation developed that they would entertain, have charismatic personalities and display more spiritual gifts than any one Biblical character ever had! No wonder burnout and stress induced moral failure is rampant and has destroyed many lives. It is almost beyond their understanding that there are other forms of Christian leadership.
Enter the present post-modern generation, where friendship and not sacrifice is the most important thing required in a relationship. In a world of rapid change what is there to hold on to, if it is not friendship? It is a need reflected in the growth and success of social media, and friendship has Biblical precedence. Towards the end of his ministry, Jesus told his disciples:
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.’ John 15:15
Friendship is a direct implication of the grace and the love of God which influences every aspect of our relationship with others. Modern day disciples, called to leadership in the community of followers, are called to Friendship.
As the apostle John said:
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another
(1 John 4:11).