There’s this woman that I’ve read about 2 or 3 times now and I find her story so completely moving that it nearly brings me to tears every time.
I love and respect this woman (who, as you’ll see in a moment, is not my wife).
I find myself moved and convicted by her story.
I learn a very many leadership lessons from this woman.
She is, in fact, the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with fine perfume in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 7. You can find the story of this woman-who is simply referred to as “a certain immoral woman” (NLT version of the Bible)-in verse 36.
The story goes something like this: Jesus is invited to dinner with some religious folks. You see while these are the type that Jesus quarrels with the most, I do believe that it is because they are actually some of the ones who are closest to Jesus in terms of their belief and yet somehow furthest from Jesus because of how they practice their belief.
Anyway, the point is: Jesus will break bread with pretty much anybody. They are having their meal when in walks this woman.
Just for the sake of capturing a real picture, imagine a modern day woman in her late 30s or early 40s in garb that looks a little tattered from living on the street, hair disheveled, generally dirty and perhaps a little “off”-in personality or general mental state.
She walks in. Makes a B-line for Jesus. She doesn’t go for this big embrace. She doesn’t try and sit next to him. She doesn’t even ask him a hundred questions.
On this day she has one objective and one target… Jesus’ feet.
She, a certain immoral woman, proceeds to lavish Jesus’ feet with 3 things:
Tears. Kisses. And fine perfume.
Now this, for many reasons, leaves the religious elite around the room and table pretty incredulous-for lots of reasons, but mainly because the woman is thought to be “unclean” and the religious elite of Jesus’ time were pretty “anti-unclean” to say the least. But that’s a different story.
There are two things that strike me every time I read this story.
There are two things that move me nearly to tears every time I read this story.
And these are the two reasons why I simply love this woman, want to be like this woman.
- She has a remarkably keen sense of self-awareness.
What I love about this woman is that she is so hopelessly and completely self-aware!
She knows her weaknesses, her shortcomings and here history of unwise decisions, you don’t have to tell her… you don’t even have to judge her… her inner judge is doing a fine job. In fact, its probably in overdrive at the moment because she feels that the only place that she is welcome and worthy is at the feet of Jesus. (His feet were probably disgusting by the way-wearing sandals in the desert-they could have been caked with mud or even animal feces).
She’s self aware and as leaders we must seek to emulate her tenacity. With laser like focus, we must attack our own shortcomings and our weaknesses and carry an incredible humility in owning those and growing in those. We can only do that, by the way, if we have help from others in pointing them out! (hint, hint.)
Bottom line is this: a highly acute sense of self-awareness is key for leaders because our growth (and hence our influence/impact) lies at the intersection of intimate familiarity with our shortcomings and the passion to do something about it.
2. She is filled with overflowing passion (literally overflowing into the whole room).
For as dirty and emotionally messed up and “sin-filled” as this woman might have been-you must give her credit for being quite smart.
Because not only has she found the secret to new life (in being brutally self-aware), she’s discovered the physical embodiment of new life-in the true identity of the man Jesus.
And when you discover the source of growth and new life, you had better believe that smart people chase after it with insane levels of passion and intentionality.
And that’s what gets me every time I read her story. She acts with such awe-inspiring passion and humility that always (literally always-1st in the margin of my print Bible years ago and then again I inadvertently wrote the same note in the notes section of my digital Bible years later) makes me ask one question:
Do I have she same levels of passion and honesty about myself to do what she did? Do you?