Greatness Through Service

It’s always interesting to understand the perspective of other groups and organizations, especially how such groups identify the people considered to be most influential in our world. When I noticed Fortune had released “Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders: 50 intrepid guides for a messy world,” I clicked over, curious to know how Fortune’s choices might coincide with my own.Fortune Leaders

Fortune’s list is striking. Populated by CEOs, presidents of corporations and countries, university officials, founders and leaders of non-government organizations, financial gurus, retail and sports leaders and celebrities, it’s an impressive collection. The Pope, the Director of the FBI and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States rank high on the list, as well as two non-violent protesters from the August 2014 Ferguson MO civil unrest.

According to the article, Fortune looked for men and women of vision, effectiveness, commitment and the courage to be pioneers. (Read the article for the full explanation.) Given the article’s subtitle, Fortune chose guides, individuals who – in the magazine’s estimation – “lead the way to a better future.” The article asserts that “people still want to be led” and “especially in crises, people inevitably rally around a leader.

As I read through the list, I paused to consider numerous names. I suppose almost every thoughtful person could compile his or her own list … without repeating any names from Fortune‘s list. The inclusion of celebrities and sports figures seemed most problematic for me. That’s not to minimize the pleasure and entertainment these cultural icons provide, but how, pray tell, are they demonstrating “great leadership” that accrues significant benefits in this “messy world“?!

The names one chose would depend on one’s choice of standards. I considered how my list would differ from Fortune‘s and realized my definition of “great leadership” might include similar qualities as Fortune listed, but I would weigh them differently. For this post, I’m choosing to focus on one.

The young man (near my older son’s age) grew up here in northwest Arkansas. Our families attended the same church as well as social connections. In early adulthood, the young man dedicated himself to God, choosing to live in Turkey among the Muslim population, eager to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Kurds. The video below is one of four parts in which he relates his experiences.

I’ll let you watch the videos to gain his perspective, being a missionary in this anti-Christian culture. What amazes me is the selflessness he reflects. Back in 2007, three missionaries were tortured and killed by young Muslim men in Turkey who had attended a Bible-teaching meeting earlier in the day. This kind of danger should give any young man cause for concern … and maybe even convince him to rethink his career plans, right?

But the message of Christ is more compelling and that’s what drives this young man. No, he doesn’t run a Fortune 500 corporation nor serve as mayor of a teeming metropolis. Nor does he conduct non-violent protests in an American city. He’s not a prime minister or president of a country.Kurd1

Instead, he humbly and lovingly presents the Good News of the Gospel to needy people, some of whom would like to see him dead – and might even participate in his killing. But he does not falter in loving them and telling them that Christ died for them.

Matthew 23:11-12 quotes the words of Jesus who said:  “Whoever serves you like a servant is the greatest among you. People who think they are better than others will be made humble. But people who humble themselves will be made great.

My young friend (along with his wife and their two small children) have never sought after greatness. I think they (as well as their US-based parents) exhibit amazing courage in the face of constant risk. Living in Turkey, they are leaders of another kind than what Fortune might value, but leaders nonetheless.

Borrowing from the article’s theme, “people still want to be led.” Yes, what better mission than leading them to Christ and forgiveness of sins? Further, “especially in crises, people inevitably rally around a leader.” Indeed, in the most messy crises of life, people inevitably look for a leader who can guide them through crisis and into “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” The greatest leaders are the ones who serve … Jesus Christ led by example.

Renée