STATELESSNESS, THE DEFAULT STATE & STATUS OF CHRISTIANS?

A couple of days ago my daughter, who is a professor of law, had shared with us her recent lecture topic: Reduction of Statelessness in South Asia. It set me thinking about the issue of statelessness and its implications.

The international legal definition of a stateless person is “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law”. In simple terms, this means that a stateless person does not have a nationality of any country.

A stateless person is someone who, under national laws, does not enjoy citizenship – the legal bond between a government and an individual – in any country. In simple terms, a stateless person doesn’t have a belonginess or a sense of being part of a people. They do not belong anywhere and nobody has a care over or for them, by legal right or otherwise.

Being part of a community bestows identity as well as a sense of well-being because of the awareness of being part of a bigger whole. When some event happens, let’s say a disaster, then there is solace in knowing that we are not alone. There is comfort in knowing that we are all sailing in the same boat and others are working to help us.

This is why refugees so desperately seek to have citizenship status, so that they can become part and parcel of a country. They look for the care and concern that comes from being part of a nation. They seek the covering that comes from being part of a people. They yearn for the fellowship and friendship that comes from belonging to a community. They want a life that is solid and established instead of living on the margin of it.

Citizenship confers identity and recognition as people who have rights and legal standing. They are no longer nameless or lumped together as refugees, but exist in a sovereign state where they can carve out a life for themselves. Citizenship gives them security and settlement so that they are no longer aliens or wanderers.

In the Bible, Israel was birthed as a nation when they were delivered from bondage out of Eygpt and received God’s laws at Sinai. They became an acknowledged and accepted sovereign state only when they settled down and were established in a land. They were constituted as a nation and acquired an identity as a people only when they were rooted in a place and belonged to it.

Ancient India was made up of a number of disjointed states and kingdoms, becoming a united nation only after independence. A common flag, a code of conduct and a declaration provided statehood. Being a nation or state brings unity and imparts a sense of belonging and identity as a community.

Being part of a community and to savor the privileges of belonging is an essential need of the human psyche. Human beings need companionship, to belong and be together with others. One of the tenets and traits of the postmodern era is the need to be part of a group. That’s why, more than ever before, people are willing to adopt all sorts of behaviour or habits just to be ‘part of the crowd.’

In Eph 2:19-20 we read that: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In I Cor we read that we have all been baptized to become one body, one people and one community.

The scriptures is clear that all who believe and call on the name of Jesus have been amalgamated into one new humanity, beyond the trappings and confining of caste, creed, color etc. As believers, we have an identity as the people of God living on this earth as the representatives and witnesses of heaven, bonding to live life together as His family and His household. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened so as to grasp the riches of His glorious inheritance in His people.

However, many who are born again and baptized in Christ live as aliens, full of an orphan spirit. They move around without no sense of identity since they lack community comprehension. They have no consciousness of the fellowship that comes with being a disciple of Christ. They wander around as refugees, feeling alienated and left out in this world.

The reason for this is two-fold: Either they are ignorant of the fact because they have not been taught of what they inherited in Christ; or they have rejected the fellowship of the saints since it involves responsibility and accountability . The former can be realigned and restored by proper teaching, but the latter are to be pitied since they have no understanding of the riches that identification with a community of faith brings.

Every one who is born of God must live as the beloved Sons and Daughters of the Most High. They need to have an understanding of the family they are part of and the entitlement that comes with bearing His Name.

Unfortunately, many are yet to grasp that they are citizens of the Kingdom of God, the apple of His eye and the people of His love. They are yet to recognise and realize their rights in Christ, the freedom that is their birthright and the authority that is theirs in Christ. They live as orphans, outcasts and ostracized, not as those who are the hope of the whole world.

Statelessness is real in His Church and among His people. Many a person in His Body walks around with the wounds of being aliens and castaways. Being aware of the need for a community of faith is core to living a purposeful life on earth. Being identified with a local family of God will purge the sense of lostness and abandonment in these times. Being committed and dedicated to the Body of Christ, the church of the Living God is of utmost importance in all seasons and turns of life.

Many people of God die, as Sir Walter Scott says (in his poem Breathes there a Man with soul so dead), Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung, because they are stateless ie, not part of a local community of faith or the church of the Lord, sometimes by ignorance but often by choice!

*Pics courtesy google images

PARENT LEADER OR SERVANT LEADER OR PROFESSIONAL LEADER

The often rehearsed concept and statement that we hear today, not just in Christian circles, but also in corporate sectors, is the term servant leadership. This has gained acceptance as contrast and as opposed to professional leadership.

A professional leader is there to extract work and treat his team or those who work under him as not deserving attention beyond what their work entitles. This means that his focus is on what they do and the results they produce. To him, they are just people who have been appointed to do a job and his work is to extract the desired outcome from them. His relationship is limited to the work sphere and his care of or over them is always in relation to that circle. To him or, they are slightly better than slaves, but hstill there to provide the service.

In contrast, servant leadership is ‘a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader’s main focus is the thriving of their company or organizations.’ Here the leader goes beyond the work sphere and comes into an understanding that his people are his to care for. He or she does not consider them as being there to serve him, but that he is there to serve them. The servant-leader steps into the personal space of his subordinate, not invading it, but seeking to build a relationship. Due to this, he or she is able to empathize not just criticise, working to produce results, not by a rod, but motivation and seeks to gain their trust.

For the professional leader, his management is a position and a vocation. To the servant leader, his administration is not a post, a vocation or even a style. It is a calling, stewardship and an influence!

There is a third higher and more noble leadership strain or trait that exists, especially in the Bible – that of parent leadership. 

The mark of a true parent is to desire the best for their child and they are most happy when the child grows beyond them. A parent is most happy when they see their child superseding them in achievement and overtaking their position. So also, a parent leader is one who is thrilled when his team member or subordinate or disciple outgrows him or her, to take on higher position and post. He or she is thrilled to have groomed them to that level and used the time given them to lay avoid foundation.

A parent thinks nothing of laying down his or her life for the sake of their child and will never crib one bit of sacrifice they make for their child. A parent is the one person in the whole wide world who never minds the cost involved and the price they pay for their child to rise to heights they weren’t or haven’t reached. So also, a parent leader welcomes the role he or she has played in the life of a trainee or apprentice that enables them to go beyond their level. In fact, they consider them the crown of their achievement.

A real parent is intuitively aware of their child’s strengths and weaknesses to at and then work on and with them in a way that fits that unique makeup. A parent then sets goals and milestones that challenge yet motivate their child, boosting their child in the right places and prodding them beyond their pain barrier until they inherit their destiny. A parent leader, likewise, is so able to assess their team members personality quirks and traits that they know what task to entrust to whom. They also know whom to push and prod, and whom to cajole and encourage in the process of getting the desired output.

A parent may feel and deal with their child in anger or with sorrow, but never will they give up on them. They will always accept and have a soft corner for their child irrespective of how many times they fail. Till the end, they will never give up on their child but always expect he or she will one day turn around. A parent leader, likewise, is ready to give their subordinate a second chance and in case they fail, they do not mind handing over their protégé to other leaders for his or her betterment.

A parent may expect returns or remuneration from their child, not as a right or as a payment for their work in reading them, but more as a token and an acknowledgement of their input in their child’s life. Their child’s growth and progress are all the thanks they need to know that they have been honoured. A parent leader does not feel neglected or sidelined when he is acknowledged for the role he played in his disciple’s achievement but will rest on the fact that his laurels are from the one who sees all and rewards openly.

Finally, a parent is never jealous of or in competition with his or her child, for he knows who he is and what role he has played, even when his child does not accept it. So also, a parent leader is never insecure that he has to fight to gain or hold his own. He rests in the satisfaction of a job well done and trust well completed.

Can there be such parent leaders and will we find them in this world?

Certainly and for sure, because there have been such people of old!

To be a parent leader needs guts, humility and compassion.

Which type of leader are you? What type of leader do you desire to be?

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com