Bamboo basket chairs are all over northern Mozambique. The skill involved in making them still amazes me. These woven bamboo chairs are hand-crafted and they cost about... 30 cents apiece!
If you show up at someone's house you will more often than not be offered one of these to sit on. But, in December and January, you can see people using these basket chairs to carry mangoes either to eat themselves or to share with others.
When I talk about leadership with our Mozambican friends, I like to use the example of bamboo basket chairs. Authority is like one of these bamboo basket chairs - what matters most is how we use it. Most people think that being a leader means having respect and being served - sitting down with arms crossed ordering people around. A former President of Mozambique once said, "The goat eats where it is tethered." This proverb is often used to explain or justify the way so many people take advantage of their authority to benefit themselves.
At one point in the gospels, Jesus' disciples are frustrated as two of them have been jockeying for prime positions of leadership. Jesus calls his followers together and tells them not to lead like those leaders who use their authority to only benefit themselves. He goes on to say - It shouldn't be that way with you. "Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:26-28 NIV)
The Jesus way of modeling authority and leadership is radically different. He shows us through his life and death that leadership should be about service - using the authority we have to serve others. Instead of using the basket chair/authority to sit and order people around, we are called to take up our basket chair/authority and use it to serve and bless others.
Anybody else have a helpful metaphor about leadership and authority?