Today in Shropshire in the UK a remarkable item was auctioned. A pair of well-worn flip-flops went up for sale. They used to belong to the much respected Mahatma Gandhi a well known leader in Indian history, and he famously walked everywhere in them. Loincloth, wooden staff and flip-flops. . they made up the image of a simple man who shunned material things, so he would be amazed to hear that his worn-out old sandals actually fetched £19,000 today!
But Gandhi did not invent humble leadership. Centuries before him Jesus Christ set an example of servant leadership that has inspired millions and still does. If there was such a thing as a museum of leadership artefacts we might find quite an amazing array of items preserved there. Probably a swagger stick from some military leader or a handbag from Mrs Thatcher. Perhaps the 21st Century section would feature a laptop computer, a tablet device or a mobile phone. But somewhere in that collection would be a towel and a wash-bowl, because the greatest leader of all time used them to wash His disciples' feet. In John 13 Jesus stooped to do the most menial task of all at that time - to wash the feet of his dinner guests. This was normally the task of the lowest slave and so none of the disciples would perform it. The Lord Jesus Christ, the maker of heaven and earth, did it for them, draped in a towel and carrying a bowl.
Servant leadership does not have to shout and rant. People follow servant leaders because they know they care. Sandals or laptops - I wonder what artefacts would symbolise your leadership style today?