A Case for the "Leader as Joke"

There are many ways to be a leader in the Church. Scripture points out that some are called to be Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Evangelist, Pastor (Ephesians 4). The body of Christ needs all the parts in order to dance. One of the ways of being leader that seemed to be ideal in the early church was that as the leader as joke. Here are some example stories of a joke of a leader.'

ONCE when Friar Juniper was going to Rome, where the fame of his sanctity was already noised abroad, many Romans, for their great devotion, went forth to meet him? and, seeing so many folk coming, Friar Juniper bethought him to turn their devotion to scorn and derision. There were there two little boys who were playing at see-saw, that is to say they had laid one log across another log, and each of them sat at his end, and thus they went up and down. Friar Juniper went and lifted one of those boys off the log and got up there himself, and began to see-saw. Meanwhile the people came up and marvelled (sic) to see Friar Juniper playing at see-saw; nevertheless, they saluted him with great devotion and waited until he should have finished his game of see-saw, to the end that they might thereafter attend him honourably (sic) to the convent. And Friar Juniper cared but little either for their salutation and reverence or for their waiting, but took great pains with his see-sawing. And, after they had thus waited a long time, some of them began to grow weary and to say: "What fool is this?" Some, knowing the ways of the man, increased in devotion toward him; nevertheless, in the end, they all went away and left Friar Juniper on the see-saw, and, when they were all gone, Friar Juniper remained full of consolation because he had seen some who made a mock of him. So he gat (sic) him up and entered Rome with all meekness and humility, and came to the convent of the minor friars. - The Little Flowers of the Glorious Messer St. Francis and of His Friars: Done Into English
THEOPHILUS of holy memory, Bishop of Alexandria, journeyed to Scete, and the brethren coming together said to Abbot Pambo: Say a word or two to the Bishop, that his soul may be edified in this place. The elder replied: If he is not edified by my silence, there is no hope that he will be edified by my words. - The Wisdom of the Desert (New Directions) by Thomas Merton
On one occasion a certain judge wished to pay a visit to the abbot Sisois. Some of the clergy went beforehand, and said to him, "Father, prepare yourself, for the judge has heard of your works and your piety, and is coming to visit you. He desires also to receive your benediction." Sisois said, "I shall do as you desire. I shall prepare myself for his visit." Then he clad himself in his best garments, took bread and cheese in his hands, and seating himself with outstretched feet at the door of his cell, began to eat. When the judge with his retinue arrived and saw him, he said, "Is this the famous anchorite of whom I heard so much?" So, despising Sisois, he departed. - The Wisdom of The Desert by James O. Hannay

These are just a few stories of church leaders who were seen as jokes. They see-sawed all day long. They refused to speak to people of power or if they did speak to these potential powerful allies, they looked a fool by eating with legs spread all over the floor! These leaders knew that if people were drawn to them, then they would be the center of the movement and not Christ. These "joke leaders" often put themselves into positions that diminished(!) their standing in order to elevate Christ. 

There is a need for all kinds of leaders in the Church, but perhaps in the age of the celebrity pastor and measuring success by the number of twitter followers or pew sitters, we need to reclaim the pastor leader as joke.