Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Prejudice”

Discrimination and the Kingdom

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.           Acts 2:42-46     NIV 1984

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.   Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”  This proposal pleased the whole group.        Acts 6:1-5a   NIV 1984

Bias is simply personal preference.  Prejudice is a prejudgment of a person or group.  Today it is often negative or critical, and is usually based upon stereotypes.  Prejudice is a strong bias or an opinion formed before encountering the facts.  If ones prejudice manifests itself in actions, it becomes discrimination.

You’ll note that the apostles encountered a situation among their community of regular discrimination.  The Greek speaking Jewish widows (now converts to Christ) were not being given their daily portion of food.  They were ‘overlooked’ by the Hebrew speaking Jewish believers who were responsible for the daily food distribution from the common ‘pot.’  This was not an oversight – ‘were being’ implies a continual action – day after day – intentional neglect.  This was pure discrimination!

Note that this happened in a community of believers who were sitting under the teaching of the apostles and experiencing many wonders and miraculous signs.  But even this amazing environment was not enough to overcome their long-held prejudice and enmity between Jew and Gentile.  Something else was needed to bring about the Kingdom change where all would be treated equitably.

Leadership (the Twelve) got involved in bringing about a needed correction.  They instructed the community to select seven men ‘full of the Spirit and wisdom’ to manage this daily distribution of food.  And note that the seven who were nominated and then finally approved by the Twelve, were all Greeks (at least they all had Greek names).  With these seven in charge the problem was solved.

Discrimination due to race, class, or culture is not of the Kingdom.  When Kingdom leaders encounter it, they must act to correct it.

As you think about your leadership, is there any sign of discrimination that needs your engagement?

Prejudice and the Kingdom

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”  Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”                            John 1:43-49   (NIV 1984)

You’ll note from the above passage Nathanael’s response when Phillip says, “We have found the one..”  Nathanael’s prejudice is verbalized in his reply, “Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?”  In other words, those Nazarenes are not worth much in my opinion – especially considering that you are asking me, Phillip, to believe that the Messiah is from Nazareth!

Prejudice is a prejudgment of a person or group, usually based upon stereotypes.  It is a strong bias or an opinion formed before encountering the facts.  If ones prejudice manifests itself in actions it becomes discrimination.

Nathanael expresses his prejudice against the Nazarenes and is then confronted by a choice.  Phillip simply says to him, “Come and see.”  Fortunately, Nathanael does not allow his prejudice to overcome him.  He’s willing to investigate this one whom Phillip is so excited about.

When meeting Jesus face to face, Nathanael is told by Jesus that He saw him under the fig tree when Phillip invited him.  Immediately Nathanael’s prejudice is changed as he responds, ” Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

All of us have our own prejudices, some being more obvious than others.  If these prejudices are negative or critical towards others what hope is there for lasting change?  For Kingdom citizens we have the hope of a personal encounter with Jesus.

Just as Nathanael had his prejudice removed when he personally met Jesus, we too can have our own prejudices removed and permanently transformed.  There is hope for those of the Kingdom and that hope is found in meeting the Messiah.  He will reveal to us our true selves and with that will come the power, through the Holy Spirit, to put off our old self and put on the new.

Perhaps it may prove helpful to ask the Lord to show you any prejudices that you may be harboring.  And once revealed, ask Him to change you-removing the old and putting on the new Christlike one that He desires for you to be.

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