Have you ever thought of Holy Week as a practice of self-awareness? As human beings, it is our nature to develop our ideas and to mature in our relationships. Acquiring knowledge that changes our perspectives and learning from our mistakes enrich our lives and allow us to move forward.
Holy Week provides the opportunity to reflect upon the places we are broken as well as experience new life, hope, and possibilities. The events of Holy Week give us space to meditate upon how fragile and sacred life is while preparing for healing and rebirth. It is a time we are invited and challenged to walk with Jesus as faith is renewed and hope is restored.
On Thursday, the day of Holy Week we call Maundy Thursday, we celebrate Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. This celebration invites us into the saving and healing work of God in Jesus. As we participate, we are no longer bystanders to the love of God.
We no longer look back with longing at the original events, but we become participants in God’s love for us and for the world. We are affirmed as beloved children of God and sent out to love one another as God in Christ has loved us. Through Holy Communion, the events of God’s love in that time and place are made present to us here and now. Keep that in mind as we continue to walk the path of self-awareness.
On Friday, the day we call Good Friday, is the most dramatic and most challenging day of Holy Week. It is a day of prayer, fasting, and reflection. The focus of the day is upon the suffering, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. On Good Friday, we encounter Jesus as a simple and fragile human being. There are no miracles, no sermons, no parables.
There is no walking on water or turning water into wine. No one is healed and no demons are cast out. The blind, listening to the commotion as Jesus drags his cross through the streets, do not receive sight. On Good Friday, we find Jesus vulnerable and subject to great pain.
Jesus Gives Us a Model of Self-Awareness
Whether you are a Jesus follower or not, Jesus gives us a model of self-awareness. He responded out of who he was in his relationship with God. He responded as a child of God. Regardless of the humiliation and the physical abuse that Jesus endured, he did not retaliate. When Roman soldiers beat him, he did not curse them, cancel them, or fight back. He didn’t stir up his followers to riot on his behalf.
Even after his friends abandoned him, including Peter, one of his closest friends, he didn’t cast blame or shame. He was generous by loving and accepting the people around him. In the midst of great loneliness, he prayed. Standing before his accusers, he remained calm. Bleeding from the brutal assault to his body, he said, “Father forgive them…” As he hung on a cross, he didn’t think about himself, he turned his focus to his mother, brothers, and sisters, as well as one who was crucified with him. In his endurance, courage, compassion and death, Jesus not only offered us an example of grace under pressure, but he showed us what it means to be truly human.
The Uncomfortable Nature of Self-Awareness
It is uncomfortable to be reminded that we bear responsibility for the death of Jesus because of our personal failures and actions. But it is a hopeful reminder that the events of Holy Week bring us to the realization that we are claimed and loved as beloved children of God and are sent out to love one another as God in Christ has loved us.
When I reflect upon the life and response of Jesus, my life changes. I think of this way. As a beloved child of God, I am no longer living on my own power, but God’s power is living within me. What a difference that makes in my self-awareness.
That is what Paul was saying when he wrote to the church in Rome. “When you belong to God, you no longer live in your own power, but God’s power lives in you.” Romans 6:16-22
Live Like Jesus
Here is the clue to self-awareness. When you have offered your life to God in and through Jesus Christ, it is important that you live that way. Your old master no longer has authority over you. So, you don’t have to live like the old master.
Imagine you are living in an apartment and you have a landlord who is making your life miserable. He charges an astronomical rent. When you are unable to pay, he adds on penalties, which gets you deeper in debt. He makes all kinds of outlandish threats, insisting on coming into your apartment at inopportune times. He makes charges that you have not maintained the property to his standards.
Then one day there is a knock at your door. You answer the door and there is a stranger standing there. The stranger introduces himself. “I just bought this building. I am the new owner. I am sorry for all you have experienced with the previous owner. I want to tell you that you can live here for free for as long as you want.”
Change in Management
Now how do you feel? You are elated in this change in management. Finally, you have been freed from the clutches of the previous owner. The heaviness of his demands is gone.
Then one day, there is another knock at your door. When you answer the knock, you see your old landlord. He demands you pay him your overdue rent. So, how do you respond? Should you pay it because he demands it? No, of course not. He is no longer the owner of the building. Should you fight him? No. He no longer has authority over you. So, you tell him, “If you have a complaint, you can take it up with the new owner.” He is trying to call your bluff, but you know that your building is under new ownership.
Under New Ownership
As a child of God, under new ownership, loved and accepted by God, whose power is within you, there are several things you know.
- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20).
- “So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” (II Corinthians 5:17).
- “You are from God…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
So, when you offer your life to God in and through Jesus Christ, it is important that you live that way. The one thing to remember about self-awareness is you are a child of God, under new management. You live and respond out of your relationship to God.
Kneeling Next to You
Maybe you can think of it this way. In London, several years ago, a large prosperous downtown church had three satellite mission churches under its care. On the first Sunday of the New Year, all the members of the mission churches came to the city church for a combined Communion service. In those mission churches, which were in the lower income areas of the city, were some interesting individuals, burglars, drug dealers, etc. Most had given their lives to Christ, in and through the acceptance and compassion of the people in the mission churches. On that first Sunday of the year, they all knelt side by side at the Communion rail.
On one such occasion the pastor saw a former convict kneeling beside a judge of the Supreme Court of England. He was kneeling beside the very judge who had sent him to jail. The man had served several years for his crimes. After his release from jail, he offered his life to Christ and became a faithful worker on one of the mission churches. As Holy Communion was being served, neither the judge nor the convict was aware of the other.
The Rest of the Story
After the service, the judge and the pastor were talking. In the midst of their conversation the judge asked his pastor, “Did you notice who was kneeling beside me at the Communion rail this morning?”
The pastor replied, “Yes, but I didn’t know that you noticed.”
Then the judge said, “Yes. What a miracle of grace.”
The pastor nodded in agreement. “Yes, what a marvelous miracle of grace.”
Then the judge said, “Pastor, to whom do you refer?”
The pastor said, “To the conversion of that convict of course.”
The judge said, “I was not referring to him. I was thinking of myself.”
The pastor, surprised, replied: “You were thinking of yourself? I don’t understand.”
The judge replied, “Yes. It did not cost that burglar much to get converted when he came out of jail. He had nothing but a history of crime behind him, and when he saw Jesus as his Savior, he knew there was salvation and hope and joy for him. He knew how much he needed that help. But look at me. I was taught from early in my life to be polite and nice. My word was to be my bond. I was to say my prayers, go to church, take Communion, and so on. I went through Oxford, earned my degrees, was called to the bar and eventually became a judge.
“Pastor, nothing but the grace of God could have caused me to admit that I was a sinner on a level with that burglar. It took much more grace to forgive me for all my pride and self-deception, to get me to admit that I was no better in the eyes of God than that convict that I had sent to prison.”
Holy Week as a Practice of Self-Awareness
Well, Holy Week can be a practice in self-awareness. It is a time to come face-to-face to who you are and whose you are.
- You are a beloved child of God. Your nature is as a daughter or son of God.
- You belong to God. You are under new management.
- You have been equipped, by God’s presence and power in you, to love others as you have been loved.
Jesus understood who he was, what he came to earth to do, and how he was going to accomplish his mission. He said, “The father and I are one” (John 10:30). “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:48). He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He had a strong and confident self-awareness.
Who Are You Created to Be?
So, this Holy Week, participate in Holy Communion, confront your brokenness, and experience, again, the love and acceptance of God in Jesus. Reflect upon the beautiful child of God you have been created to be.
The one thing to remember about your self-awareness is you are under new management. It is my prayer that the people around you will be freed from their heaviness because of God’s love and care in your life.
When you need and want assistance, remember that Sara Thomas and I are with you in your leadership journey. When we can be of encouragement or help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are ready to assist you with insights and resources in becoming a courageous leader.
Check out LeaderCast. On the podcast this week, we feature 15 of our guests sharing their wisdom regarding self-awareness. Check out Episode 171 of LeaderCast. This is one resource you will want to have as you navigate the challenges of 2021. Remember, who you are is how you lead.