Following my hypertension revelation, Jennifer asked if perhaps I was being called to write a series of blog posts on how Jesus dealt with stress. Being a Lectionary preacher, I’m not prone to do a series on anything, but as I thought about the whole arc of the Transfiguration story, optional text included, I began to realize an underlying theme of delegation and teamwork.
Back when I was in college, one of my two part-time jobs was as co-youth ministry director at the Episcopal Church in which I grew up. It was a great gig, made better by an amazing co-leader who made a college student prone to bad decisions look very good. One of the best parts of the job was the mentorship I gained from the Rector. Father Bill was a student of leadership guru, John Maxwell. Somewhere along the line, Father Bill gave me a copy of a small handbook by Maxwell called “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work,” of which until this morning I hadn’t so much as cracked the spine. (Like I said, prone to bad decisions)
The crux of the text, from what I perused this morning, is summed up nicely in the closing paragraph of the introduction, “Teams are incredible things. No task is too great, no accomplishment too grand, no dream too far-fetched for a team. It takes teamwork to make the dream work.” (9)
Look again at the story from Luke 9. Jesus pulls aside his key players: Peter, John, and James, and takes them up the mountain for a time of prayer and team building. It is in the midst of that time together that another team appears: Moses and Elijah, who with Jesus make up something of a the Big Three of God’s earthbound team of leaders. They talk big picture stuff, about mission and vision and strategic planning. They focus their attention, and ours, on the second half of the project, Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, his Passion and death, and, as Jesus has just recently proclaimed, his resurrection.
Strengthened by that time, the group descends the mountain to find the rest of the group in a bit of bind, having failed to heal a boy with a demon. To the untrained eye, it would seem that Jesus gets outrageously upset by this situation, but in light of what has already happened, and what we know is going to follow: arguing over who is the greatest, the disciples rebuking a man healing in Jesus’ name, the disciples eagerness to call down fire on the Samaritan city, and all the rest; it seems perfectly normal that Jesus, intent on growing the team that will follow his work, upon which the future of the kingdom rests, would get frustrated when that inner group fails so colossally.
Jesus invites us to join his team and build his Kingdom, but when we try to do it on our own or when we fail to remember the fundamentals of his teaching, he gets frustrated, just as any leader would. Would that we might remember to take our place in the organization rather than trying to make ourselves higher than the rest.