My son Ronnie rushed into the kitchen one day after kindergarten in Hungary, flung his backpack on the counter and made a beeline to the freezer. This was a daily routine during the warm months since at school drinks were served at room temperature and Ronnie liked his drinks cold.
He would usually give us the play by play of the day and today’s highlight was about an injustice wherein he was the hero of the story. Ronnie and his friend were the last to be served their 10am snack and though Ronnie was the last to be served, his teacher looked between he and his buddy and decided to give Ronnie the last slice of bread with lard, tomatoes and cucumbers. Ronnie looked at the teacher as she shrugged at his friend as if to say, “Oh well,” and walked away.
Ordinarily, I would have thought my son really sacrificed giving the last snack to his friend, but he was no hero in this story (even though he is usually very generous). One of the first phrases Ronnie learned in Hungarian was “empty bread, please.” He was no hero, he hated cucumbers, tomatoes, and especially lard. It wasn’t much of a sacrifice.
But Ronnie went on to ask why this seemed to happen to this friend quite regularly. Often, this boy was mistreated by the teachers as well as the other kids. Knowing this little boy and his family, we had to have a hard life lesson talk about injustice and prejudice. Not growing up in that culture, he wouldn’t have known that this little boy was treated poorly, regularly, because he was born a Gypsy.
Ronnie didn’t know any different, he was just a normal friend to Ronnie, but his heart went out to him. Knowing this, Ronnie knew his “celebrity status” as an American actually made him popular and thus an influencer, and he used this influence to get people to treat him better and make him feel more included. Even from a young age, Ronnie used his superhero powers of justice and equality for good. That mindset is what makes good leaders great. Treating those we have influence over justly and equally.
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Colossians 4:1 King James Version
This idea of “master” seems to always lead our minds to slaves. But it’s far more generic than that, in fact, most parts of the world translate master as “Lord,” and it is just a polite distinction for an adult male. But whether it was meant for those who had servants, or it meant those entrusted to lead, the point of the verse is the same.
Regardless of status, job, responsibility or title, we ought to treat others, particularly those who have been entrusted to us, with the mind that we too have one who is over us. He demonstrates how to love and serve by the way He treats each of us. It’s a model which should carry over to our care for others. We ought to treat others equitably, not thinking more of ourselves than we ought.
Usually when I travel, one of the first conversations I have with our missionaries is that while I’m there, in their country, they are still the boss. I have a responsibility with the title of President, but that is just me doing my job, and they too have a job and I’m not there to get in the way of it. I’m not there to tell them how to do it.
Next Paul says “exhibit” (“give” in the KJV) fair treatment. If I said to my missionaries, they are the boss, and then start making plans and orders, what I say and what I exhibit don’t match. The two go hand in hand.
What Ronnie learned that day over a piece of toast in kindergarten was that the world at times isn’t fair. But instead of accepting the culture of a fallen generation, he aimed to use his power and influence to make a difference in the world he could influence. No one could see his cape, but to a little Gypsy boy who had never been cared for more… Ronnie was a superhero.
The world is crying out… for more superheroes for Christ!
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
May 10, 2022