Activist, Pastor, and Global Leader Evan Mawarire reflects on the role of Christian faith in democratic leadership, specifically looking at three significant Gospel passages that reveal not just Jesus’s approach to leadership, but how he teaches his disciples to lead with peace, humility, compassion, and faith. In Mark 4, we find Jesus leading from peace, rest, control, and trust, peacefully sleeping in the midst of a storm, while the disciples prematurely conclude: “Don’t you care that we are going to die?” In Mark 10, when two of the disciples play political games for their own glory, Jesus responds with a teaching of humility and a subversive glory—that the greatest will in fact be the servant of all. And in John 13, Jesus displays this humility and compassion by washing the gross and grungy feet of his friends, and teaching Peter that a leader is first a student, and the student isn’t greater than their teacher. This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.
- Featured Artwork: “Study, Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples 1898”, Henry Ossawa Tanner and “Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet”, Jan Lievens, 1630/35
- Urgency, peace, and the exit door of fear
- The shallow sleep of anxiety
- Jesus calm’s the storm:
- Mark 4:35-41 — 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’
- See also: Luke 8:22-25, Matthew 8:23-27
- “Don’t you care that we are going to die?”
- Jesus’s goal of leadership development
- Mark 10:35-45 ****
- 35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ 36 And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ 37 And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ 38 But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ 39 They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’ 41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’
- Pastor Evan’s work in Zimbabwe’s Citizen’s movement
- “Lord, give us a seat at the table that decides the future of this nation.”
- Prayer: We ask for harvest, God plants a seed.
- How do we prepare our leaders?
- Luke 6: “The student is not above the teacher.”
- Reversing the roles: being served versus serving
- Leadership is not designed to be comfortable
- People are at their worst when we are in crisis, but this is when we’re supposed to see leaders at their best when we’re in crisis.
- Sheep without a shepherd
- Loss of trust and the Global Trust Barometer
- Leadership is not just about the right skill set, it’s importantly about the right heart set.
- Washing the feet of the disciples
- John 13:1-17
- 1 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
- It’s not easy to lead
- Starfish Story: “To that one it made a difference.”
- “Someone who knows how to lead, knows how they have been served themselves.”
- “Where can plant seeds of impact?”
- “How do we faithfully look after these sprouting of servant leadership, of people that understand that leadership is about serving are more than it is about being served.”
- Back to urgency and patience—the only way to plant seeds is to plant now and wait.
- “Where purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.”
- “There are two most important days in your life—the day you were born and the day you discover why.”
- Patience and the crafting of leadership
About Evan Mawarire
Evan Mawarire is a Zimbabwean clergyman who founded #ThisFlag Citizen’s Movement to challenge corruption, injustice, and poverty in Zimbabwe. The movement empowers citizens to hold government to account. Through viral videos, the movement has organized multiple successful non-violent protests in response to unjust government policy. Evan was imprisoned in 2016, 2017, and 2019 for charges of treason, facing 80 years in prison. His message of inspiring positive social change and national pride has resonated with diverse groups of citizens and attracted international attention.
Evan has addressed audiences around the world, and Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the 100 global thinkers of 2016. The Daily Maverick Newspaper of South Africa named him 2016 African person of the year. Evan is a 2018 Stanford University Fellow of the Centre for Democracy Development and the Rule of Law. He is a nominee of the 2017 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression awards and the 2018 Swedish government’s Per Anger Prize for democracy actors. He was a 2023 World Fellow at Yale University’s Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program.
- This podcast featured Evan Mawarire
- Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
- Hosted by Evan Rosa
- Production Assistance by Macie Bridge & Kaylen Yun
- A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
- Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give
- This episode was made possible in part by the generous support of the Tyndale House Foundation. For more information, visit tyndale.foundation.