Last time we talked about Jesus in Mark 4, napping while the boat goes through a storm. Leaders make people angry by staying calm in the face of anxiety. Even when everyone else's hair is on fire, leaders will be a non-anxious presence, a lighthouse bringing rocky boats back to shore. Today, we'll talk about the second thing leaders do that make people mad.
2. Call for change in the face of complacency.
In the next chapter of Mark, the story is told of a man plagued with demonic possession. He was a social outcast, a danger to himself and to society. The local villagers would attempt to chain him, but he would break the chains, roam around the village graveyard, and howl at all hours of the night.
Jesus promptly heals this man. But in order to restore the man to his people, it comes at the cost of a herd of pigs. The demons that haunt this man's soul leave the man and drive a herd of pigs off a cliff to their watery doom. The man has gained back control of his own body and mind, but some farmers have lost their livelihood, an admittedly high cost.
Apparently, too high of a cost.
The herdsmen go and report what happened to the nearby townsfolk. They show up and discover Jesus sitting with a man who's now clothed, sane, and healed. One of their own is no longer possessed, hurting himself or others, or running around graves shouting. This ought to be great news. But their response?
The eyewitness pig farmers had told the townsfolk what had happened, including the bit about the pigs. And despite the positive outcome - a man is healed and restored! - their response is to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
Leaders not only stay calm in the face of anxiety, but they also act for change in the face of complacency.
Leaders recognize that what's next is better than that what's now. They take the steps to implement what's next and they bring others along with them in that journey. But they will inevitably encounter resistance because of the inertia of complacency.
Complacency tells us the lie that now is as good as it gets. It deceives into thinking that even if there is something better ahead, the pain to get there isn't worth the pain of staying where we are.
When asked to trade between brothers and pigs, we'd rather keep the pigs.
Leaders know, however, that the pain of change is better than the comfort of things staying the same.
Jesus, no doubt, absolutely did the right thing in healing that man. Though the cost of change was high (a herd of pigs) it did not compare to the reward of a human being regaining their dignity and sanity. But the lie of complacency deceived the townsfolk into not even seeing the gain that had happened. All they could see was the loss and it made them afraid.
Leaders have a responsibility, therefore, to do two things. 1) Help people become aware of their own complacency, and coach them along in seeing why the cost of change is better than the cost of stagnancy. And 2) Even when people don't agree with you, don't hesitate to change things to make people's lives better. It may get you kicked out of the town, but you will be confidence in knowing that you did the right thing.
That isn't the end of that story, however. Next time we'll talk about what happened to that healed man and how Jesus was confident enough in his own work to let someone else do the talking.