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13 April 2018

Royalty and the upside down kingdom

Royalty and the upside down kingdom

Alexandra Davis is project and digital content lead at the Evangelical Alliance.

How do you lead in times of chaos? We're watching a few different styles at the moment: leadership by Twitter from President Trump, leadership by threat from President Putin, leadership by default from Prime Minister Theresa May. As the world seems to totter from one crisis to another, we're watching a selection of leaders go their own way.

But we have another world leader who this week was rumoured to be up for a Nobel peace prize – a leader who's been a staple on the international scene for more than 60 years, who's seen presidents and prime ministers come and go, who's been beloved, dismissed and admired in equal measure. Queen Elizabeth.

We don't always think of the Queen as a 'leader' per se. For a start, when she became queen she was a woman doing a man's job during an era when women in leadership was rare and almost unheard of. She's not got a mandate from the people, she doesn't have a manifesto we can buy in to, and she doesn't set the agenda or the vision for where we as a nation go. And yet, over the years, the Queen has been a quiet, consistent and reliable source of leadership. Her work to draw together and develop the Commonwealth as a centre point for talk and shared values and expectations, as they will again on Monday in London, has enhanced our international dialogue and cooperation in a way that nothing else has, and is the inspiration for the suggested Nobel nomination.

We also saw this week the out-working of some of the Queen's leadership style. The invitation list to Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle next month was announced and it turns out that not a single politician has been invited. Instead charity workers, teachers, community activists and fundraisers have received invitations to join the celebrations in Windsor. 

It seems that the Queen's grandchildren have picked up and run with something quite astonishing in world leadership, an unexpected foreshadowing of the kingdom which Jesus points to in Matthew 19 when He talks about the first being last and the last being first. Interestingly, those invited to the wedding celebrations have been chosen because they have displayed leadership and service to their communities – demonstrating the value the royal family now places on proactive, servant-hearted leadership.  

Under the Queen's leadership, the most famous family in the world has worked out what servant leadership looks like. Or a version of it at least. None of this is to say that it hasn't been a painful and problematic journey for the monarchy at times, with plenty of missteps and upsets over the years. 

The Queen, who speaks freely of her trust in Jesus, has turned monarchy from a grandiose myth into a servant-hearted public institution. Instead of burying her head in the post-empire sand, she took hold of those who had been subjects and empowered them to be leaders, shapers, developers of our world. Instead of collecting the centres of power into one fancy room, her grandson and his future wife have followed her lead and brought together the everyday, the normal, and the apparently unspectacular and invited them to a celebration of love and life. There's something of the upside down kingdom in all of this.

When we look around at a world full of leaders today, how many of them follow the pattern of servant-hearted leadership Jesus modeled and which we're seeing the royal family follow? After all, how many are royals who have chosen to serve? "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" Mark 10:45.


The Evangelical Alliance believes in equipping public leaders to be a voice for good and for God in society. If you or someone you know is in public leadership, find out how you can get involved: thepublicleader.com 

Image: Commonwealth Secretariat 

 

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