The Fat Duck is this fantastic restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, England that is one of the most innovative restaurants in the world. The Fat Duck is on the forefront of culinary science and is headed by chef Heston Blumenthal, a modernist chef who began focussing on using scientific principles to solve problems in the gastronomic kitchen. Think the art of cooking meets the science of food and human perception.
They serve a Hot and Iced Mulled Cider which divides exactly down the middle in a juxtaposition of liquid of two temperatures. One-half of this drink is hot, and the other half is icy cold. When you drink it, one-half of your palate tastes the hot tea and the other half iced tea. You experience an unexpected and astonishing taste sensation.
The juxtaposition of seeming opposites creates something entirely unique. The inspiration behind this drink was the ideas and research of a man named Charles Spence.
Charles Spence is an experimental psychologist at the University of Oxford. Professor Spence conducts research that looks at the role of attention in multisensory perception. He constructed an hand-held object, a radiator of sorts, that is cold on a side and hot on the other side.
Most people would assume that when you hold an object that is both cold and hot, you will get a sensation that is somewhere in the middle of hot and cold. We expect that it would feel warm.
The sensation is something entirely different and hard to explain.
The brain is not equipped to handle a contrast in temperatures placed so closely together. When two seemingly opposite things like hot and cold are juxtaposed the result is something entirely different.
Jesus’ leadership is a similar juxtaposition.
Jesus is a leader. He has set the mission, vision, and direction that we follow. He goes before us.
Jesus is a servant. Jesus sacrifices. Jesus submits. Jesus serves.
When you think of a leader and a servant, we often get the idea of servant leadership. If I am honest, though, I struggle with this idea. It’s as if my brain cannot process the two ideas juxtaposed at once.
Jesus is not just a leader.
Jesus is not just a servant.
Jesus is not just a servant leader.
He is something else.
The juxtaposition of a leader with a servant creates something different. Something we can hardly explain.
The juxtaposition inherent in Jesus is confounding, surprising, unique,
Jesus’ leadership style is a juxtaposition of two seemingly opposing messages. One style is true leadership, influence, vision. But the other style is service, meeting needs, helping hurt people.
People followed Jesus. He was their leader.
People followed Jesus. He was their healer.
People followed Jesus. He was a man on a mission.
People followed Jesus. He was a man in humble submission.
When we think about leadership and Jesus, there is this confusing juxtaposition that causes mental frustration for many aspiring leaders. Jesus was a leader who we would want to follow, but they way he led ways through love, service, sacrifice, and suffering, which doesn’t appear to be leadership at all in the minds of most people.
People followed Jesus. He led them to place the where he died for them.
Leadership like Jesus is a juxtaposition of the most extreme kind because it creates something beyond the mix of leadership and servant.
It creates cross-shaped leadership.
Something one has to experience to understand.