We don’t typically respect, much less, care for the weak. We exalt the strong and the winner. But that is not the way God wants us to be. He wants us to consider the weak and lend our hands to them. John C. Maxwell, one of the leadership gurus in America, tells the story of Lou Whittaker, who led the first all-American team to the summit of Mt. Everest in 1984. Five members of his team managed to reach the final campsite at twenty-seven thousand feet; another two thousand feet they would reach the top.
It was, then, that Lou had to make a difficult decision as to whom he would assign to go to the summit—a dream that everyone shared. In the end Lou decided to send his two strongest climbers down the mountain to get the supplies. This was a tough job because they’d have to carry these supplies back up. And after loading and carrying these supplies, they would be in no condition to climb up to the top.
Subsequently Lou sent his two weaker members to climb up to the summit while he himself stayed at the camp. These two received the glory of standing on the highest point on earth while the rest of the team rejoiced in their glory. When asked why he didn’t assign himself to go to the top, he humbly answered, “My job was to put other people on top.” What a servant, what a leader!
Many aspire to become leaders because they want recognition and respect, along with power and influence to command people. In other words, they want to be on top, to be the ones who receive the glory. But that’s not the kind of leader that God wants us to be. During the crisis, despite his status as a prisoner, Paul became a de facto leader, not the centurion or the captain of the ship. He led by God-given wisdom, by the Spirit’s blessed presence, and by Christ-indwelt love. By example he put others first and himself last.