A LEADERSHIP WITH EMPTY BASKETS HAS NOTHING TO OFFER!
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. Mark 6:30-34 (ESV)
I come from a very creative society, with illustrious artists, painters, architects, thinkers, renown poets, elite athletes; regarding culinary, we can say that it is one of the most prestigious cuisines, with the best chefs in the world. They have the people, they have the methods, but they DO NOT transform. They lack authentic leadership. They have failed in communication, in ideals, in the message … and people don’t like it. They are in constant search of someone who has compassion, someone who will put themselves in their place, to dialogue, to listen to them with open ears. They seek to be contemplated with a vision beyond the window of their own eyes and to be seen through a different lens.
The statistics regarding education show worrying figures in the behavior of this new generation of adolescents. The educational establishments and their body of teachers tell me that they are facing a “POWERFUL generation” and they are not prepared for this. They say that the problem is beyond their control. They need help. Meanwhile, the sheep continue to wander without authentic leadership, with baskets without compassion! They tell me … WE NEED YOU!
Of our population of 47 million people, only 0.5% of the Spanish society says to believe in Jesus Christ. And without even analyzing the Catalan ethnicity in which I live with my family and for which we are totally passionate, I can tell you that it’s one of the least evangelized. More than 48% of Spanish youth declare themselves atheists and/or agnostics.
So how does the church look in this type of society? You can see how even the ecclesiastical communities in the Bible had incredible challenges facing the culture that monopolized their morals (often there was no difference with the pagans). For example, the Corinthian brothers had the challenge of not allowing themselves to be “Corinthianized”. The European society at the time was proud of the great temple of Aphrodite with its 1000 prostitutes. The moral condition of Corinth is vividly seen in the fact that the Greek verb Korinthiazomai (to do the Corinthian), came to mean practicing fornication (Dr. Charles Ryrie).
The church blends with culture. As Latin American people, we are a church in the street. We live our agapes or relationships at the doorsteps of our houses. We share a mate (traditional Argentine drink) or a glass of water with strangers, and in many cases, we invite them into our homes to sit at our table and share. We go to a soccer stadium and euphorically embrace perfect strangers in an act of fraternity when our team scores a goal. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. We live passionately. Maybe we are like sheep looking for a Shepherd – a product of NEED.
My family and I have lived approximately 17 years between the beautiful countries of Spain and Portugal. We consider them to be wonderful cultures and people, but without a doubt, we live in a very atheist and agonistic Europe. The concept of God is diminishing little by little and for most people, God does not exist. Morals are made in a concept of plurality, where the idea of the amoral and asexual is woven. It is influencing our children to live as they feel. The idea of absolutes and singular, visible distinctions between men and women are being erased through well-argued curriculums through public education.
Maybe with this description you get discouraged and think that serving in these cultures is difficult and that there is little transformation, but in no way is that my intention. I only want you to know the reality of the society in which we live. It is a society with a political leadership without compassion. They are waiting for people like you and me to offer them something different; something that takes them away from the slavery of a plural thought which destroys their marriages, their children, their friends and which leaves them empty. They are societies that suffer and need Jesus and the Good News of the Gospel that transforms them completely and makes them free.
Let’s begin … What do I offer? … COMPASSION
Jesus contemplated the crowd without political and religious leadership and it produced a feeling of compassion in his very being. It literally moved his bowels and led the Master of our lives to contain them with Eternal Words for long hours.
We can observe in these few verses how the disciples are challenged to change their perspective of the crowd. The Lord begins a work in them which will verify that they’re like the leadership of the world, Leaders with Empty Baskets. They were only concerned with themselves and their plans.
Let’s take a look at what Carlos Morris says about it in his Bible Commentary:
The report (v. 30). For the first and only time, Mark calls them apostles. The “disciples” or “students” had become “apostles” or “commissioned”. They had already spent more than a year in the best Bible school ever created, with none other than the Son of God Himself as instructor. We see that they gave their report to the Lord and told him “everything they had done … and taught.” We assume that this would have included both failures and successes. Christ always rewards faithfulness (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
The intention he had (v. 31). Notice the tenderness of his invitation: “Come away by yourselves… and rest a while.” He wanted them to be alone with him, in the stillness of the desert. They needed to renew their physical and mental strength, alone and in fellowship with the Lord.
Jesus enjoyed every comment from them. He was interested in their great stories of success achieved in the work that He had entrusted to them, as well as every frustration that life gave them. It is interesting to think that in the same way that he contemplated the crowd, He also contemplated the disciples. It was through a deep lens, not seeing them only for who they were, but also for who they could become if only they repented and believed in Him.
The apparently inconvenient interruption (v. 32-33). Jesus could have considered the presence of that crowd that had frustrated the intention of a quiet retreat as an inconvenient interruption. However, he did not consider them an interruption or impediment, but looked at them with compassion. He did not feel irritated or impatient, but took into account their condition and their spiritual need. How much we need to learn from Him about this spirit that should motivate and move us! Martin Luther translates it “he preached a long sermon” to them, and in truth it was, because it lasted until dusk.
Let’s not stop … What do I offer? … DETERMINATION
Friends, it’s time to wake up from our misunderstood leadership that is moving at unprecedented speeds, with busy calendars, with Golden Baskets which are focused on appearance. They lead us to seek credit, titles and positions, making unthinkable efforts to achieve them.
Beloved brothers, the multitude does not need a leadership like that: one that has time for everything urgent and not for the most important thing which are the people that God has placed in his sovereign provision before us. It would be much better to have Poor Baskets, because they do not actually feed anyone anyway, but it is the miracle they carry inside which satisfies the crowd!
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14-15 (ESV)