Monday, September 19, 2016

Leadership lessons from blind Bartimaeus

If you have never read the story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), you have missed an awesome chunk of scripture. Or maybe you have read it and it didn't jump off the page for you. I was very familiar with this story and will often use it as an illustration in speaking - it contains one of my favorite questions in scripture. And while the "obvious" question makes me laugh a little every time I read it, the complexity of this simple question could be the source of many chapters of a book! I should write that book.

As Jesus was walking out of Jericho, He was surrounded by a large crowd. Bartimaeus who was sitting on the side of the road begging, heard Him and knew it was Jesus. Bartimaeus began to call out, "Jesus, son of David! Have mercy on me!". The people scoffed at him, reminding him of his status and that Jesus won't have time for him. As the crowd tried to get him to be quiet - he shouted more and more, getting louder. Jesus, hearing him called for him and the crowd began to shout for him to get up and go to Jesus. As he ran to Jesus he threw his cloak aside, when he approached - Jesus said "What do you want me to do for you?". Wait, what? I LOVE this question!

Bartimaeus replied "I want to see", and Jesus said to him "Go, your faith has healed you."

Every time I read this passage I laugh a little. It's such an obvious answer to that question. The dude is blind! Why would Jesus ask? Why wouldn't he just heal him straight away? Here are a few lessons I find to be epicly (not sure that's a word) true!

1. As Bartimaeus called out - He called Jesus, not just by name, but "Son of David". He was exclaiming his faith in Jesus as the Messiah. 
2. As the crowd told him to hush it, he got louder. While they may not be questioning his faith, they are making it clear that Jesus is only for some - and he wasn't that status. Today you see that in rockstar Christianity. People who claim to be compassionate followers of Jesus - but only when He is looking or giving attention to the poor. (which is always, but that's a different blog) In this time, Bartimaeus' condition would be assumed as a consequence for God's judgement. As soon as Jesus called him they quickly joined in. Jesus once again reminded the crowd of His compassion through His actions. He showed them that healing was for all. 
3. Jesus asked him what he wanted. Here we see a very obvious need. But Jesus had him state that need. It is in this posture that we see Bartimaeus show his faith, as Jesus is humbly standing in front of him in His Holiness. How many times a day do we just stop and recognize who Jesus is?
4. The question wasn't if Bartimaeus had faith, the question became "Was Bartimaeus willing to seek Jesus and lay his needs before him - even amongst ridicule." He did.

I use this passage often with discouraged leaders. As leaders, sometimes I think we have the tendency to think that if we haven't been able to fix something or succeed - we are just stuck. We have possessed faith, but still failed! Now what? We fail to see that something that may be an obvious need in our lives, even though Jesus can see it, we haven't given it to Him. 

If you are stuck, or broken as a leader (coming from someone who has been those things) have you sat there in your discouragement and called out to Jesus? As you are being ridiculed or feeling insignificant, have you called Him by name - showing your faith and His greatness? And lastly have you specifically asked Him to see? Or named the specific need? I have been so amazed to learn that it was my vision (or perspective) that simply needed healing. While other times there was a major change or healing.  

For those of us in leadership, we often need to step back and simply ask for help. Maybe to your pastor, maybe to your supervisor - but always to your heavenly father who waits for you to ask. 

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