It takes a terribly simplistic view of Scripture to think that Philippians 2:5 is simple. In what may superficially appear to be a rather uncomplicated statement—"let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"—lies an incredible challenge, first to truly understand, then to apply.
Furthermore, verse 5 is only the introduction to an even deeper concept that develops in verses 6-8, where we read that two of the great hallmarks of the mind of Jesus were His humility and His "taking the form of a bondservant." Clearly implied is the call for us to learn to walk in those steps as well.
But can anyone truly walk as a godly servant and lead as Christ did without first understanding the mind of Christ?
More Questions Than Answers
Henry Ford reportedly observed, "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is why so few people engage in it!" The point of this article is to initiate some hard mental work, by posing more questions than answers. This is also the first in an on-going series of articles that will explore many different aspects of the heart of a servant, as reflected in the example and teachings of Christ. The intent of this article is to get us thinking about thinking—thinking about the mind of Christ.
This is hard work, truly a lifelong pursuit, but it comes with great pay! The payback is that as we begin to better understand the mind of Christ, we can begin to take on the form of a Christ-like servant.
The "form of a bondservant" was not merely Jesus Christ's outward appearance—it was first and foremost His way of thinking in many aspects of life. Neither did "taking the form of a bondservant" pertain simply to performing certain acts of service.
One-dimensional thinking assumes that servant leadership is only about serving. Oh no! It is a far more complex weave of factors, such as the appropriate actions (depending on the person and circumstance), motivation, having the right purposes, methods and techniques—all of which spring from the way we think.
"Serving" and "being a servant" are not the same. Very simply put, serving is an event, something you do; being a servant is a way of being, something you are, based on the way you think. All true servants serve, but not all serving is necessarily from the pure heart of a Christ-like servant.
Thus, for inquisitive, dedicated followers of Christ, the Spirit of God continually confronts the human spirit with deeply personal, provocative questions: "Are you thinking the way He thought? Are you understanding all the aspects of taking the form of a servant?"
God engages His disciples in a lifelong quest to answer the question, Just what is the mind of Christ, and how can I more effectively let it be in me? This leads to many other questions:
• Do I understand how He thought, and why?
• How did His thinking affect His capacity to lead?
• How did His thinking affect His manner of leading?
• What all went on in the mind of Christ that governed His attitude and actions?
• How did that relate to His servant mindset?
• How does it need to work in my life?
What in the World Was He Thinking?
Let's probe a bit deeper by considering several specific realms of thinking that governed all of Christ's subsequent actions:
• How did He think about, and view, Himself?
• How did He think about, and view, other people?
• How did He think about His position, office or responsibility?
• How did He think about structuring His Church? Why did He set it up the way He did?
• How did He think about using His power, authority and controls?
• How did He think about making decisions?
• How did He think about choosing leaders?
• How did He think about developing His followers into leaders?
• How did He think about developing their opportunities to learn?
• How did He think about other people under His leadership exercising creativity and initiative?
• How did He think about His personal accountability to others, or the accountability of others to Him?
• How did He think about dealing with others when they made mistakes?
• How did He think about dealing with His own temptations?
• How did He think about, and approach, solving problems?
• How did He think about communicating with people in matters such as the flow of information to others, receiving input from others and disclosing information?
• How did He think about His expectations of those following Him?
• How did He think about measuring the results of His endeavors?
Are you mentally exhausted yet? (If you seriously studied the answer to each question before reading on to this point, you must be now living somewhere around the year 2005 or beyond!)
Fully considering these questions requires a lot of mental work—the questions are certainly easier to come up with than answers, demonstrating an important point. That is, an entire lifetime of study would not offer us sufficient opportunity to fully comprehend the way He thought in all these matters!
"Let this mind be in you" may be grammatically a simple sentence, but even the most basic step of practicing that admonition—analyzing what all went on in His mind—requires deep investigation and meditation.
One Path Leads to Another
Furthermore, seriously pondering His thinking processes begins to mentally walk us down another path of meditation, a path we must take if we are to grow. The sign marking the entrance to that path reads: "How much is my thinking aligned with His thinking in all of these areas?"
Let's reconsider all of the questions previously asked from another angle—how do they relate to leadership, the mind of Christ as a servant and our comprehension of servant leadership? Once again, let's pose more questions than answers.
• Which of the preceding questions and concepts do not involve leadership and the way people are served?
•Which of those areas of life do not involve approaches that either serve God and others (Christ-like) or else are carnal and self-serving?
• What are, for each of those questions, typical worldly patterns of thought and action versus godly patterns of thought and action?
• Which of those questions and concepts do not affect our impact on other peoples' lives?
• Which of those questions and concepts do not connect to each of us in our realms of personal leadership?
Quest for the Mind of Christ
One of the strangest and most difficult notions for humans to grasp is that the strongest possible leadership flows from being a servant. In the last couple of years in the Church we have been searching to better understand how Christ can live in us, particularly in the area of emulating His life as a servant.
We have seen more deeply that our approach to leading other people must be centered on the concept of servanthood, which must be centered on the model of Jesus Christ, which must first be centered on thinking as He thought.
The heart of godly servant leadership finds its roots in the mind of Christ, and that mind covered a very broad spectrum of issues (as illustrated in the chain of questions above) in which His thinking was molded according to the Father's. Those same issues touch our everyday lives as well.
Understanding the heart of Christ as a servant and how it pertains to both His leadership and ours is not simplistic or elementary. Nevertheless, every man, woman and child following God should—must—engage in a quest to plumb the depths of the mind of Christ, beginning with the question, "How did He think?" It is in the search and discovery process that we will find ourselves growing.
After all, how can we let the mind of Christ be in us, how can we be like-minded servants, unless we are learning how that mind works? UN